By: Ashley Nyiko Mabasa
The African National Congress [ANC] as a liberation movement has attempted to ideologically re-position since the democratic breakthrough in 1950s and 1960s. The clearest advancement of the National Democratic Society appeared to be the foundation of the ANC-envisaged society based on non-sexism, non-racialism and democracy. The battle for ideological influence over the ANC will not cease to exist as long as the ANC is viewed as the “leader of the society” and “liberation movement.” The phenomenon of the ANC attempting to ideologically position itself is not a new one – it resonates with the 1960s and 1970s debate of the national question, national democracy and class struggle. There is an urgent need for a critical assessment of the National Democratic Revolution in the 21stCentury, with different contending debates within the primacy of the National Democratic Revolution itself on the issue of democracy and the existence of the state.
Most of the discourse on the National Democratic Revolution is derived on the historicisation of South African oppressed people and their institutions of ethnicity. In assessing the National Democratic Revolution in the post-apartheid struggle, it is critical to discuss the failures of Leninist politics in the Global South countries but Leninist politics have not entirely failed the struggle of the working class and that needs to be acknowledged. It is important for Leninists to incorporate the ecological question as a means to negating the capitalist means of production. Economical Marxists argue that capitalism is dependent on the extracting of production – what Rose Luxemburg in his 1913 seminal work “Accumulation of the Capital” referred to as “the extra-economy”.
Assessing the National Democratic Revolutions a necessary resurgence
“The immediate interests of the overwhelming majority of the South African people lie in the carrying out of fundamental change: a National Democratic Revolution which will overthrow the colonial state and establish a united, democratic and non-racial South Africa. The main content of this revolution is the national liberation of African people in particular, and the black people general” (SACP, 1989).
The quote above by the South African Communist Party (SACP) shows the SACP’s fundamental conceptualisation and assessment of the National Democratic Revolution in 1989, at the eve of our democratic breakthrough. The National Democratic Revolution as a political programme needs to be assessed in order to fit into the new discussions on the current ecological crisis and dealing with the legacy of apartheid. The debates regarding the class struggle and racial oppression were intertwined in the idea of national liberation that was proposed by the national democratic revolution.
The important exposition of the theory of National Democratic Revolution in the SACP can be attributed to their influence to the experiences of the Soviet Union and revolutionary theories prevailing from Marxism-Leninism. Therefore, in assessing the National Democratic Revolution in the 21st century it is also vital to draw the genealogy of the National Democratic Revolution since 1920s Comintern in Soviet Union.
In addition, 1920s Comintern debate about the inter- and intra-class struggle was centred on the formation of alliance between the anti-fascists national movement and socialist movement in fulfilment of the national democracy. Put differently, the 1920s debate has been about the struggle for national liberation and socialism. In the same vein, National Democratic Revolution genealogy ascended as a strategy of the Comintern to deal with colonial and social formation in which productive forces and the racial and gendered proletariat were very small. This strategy was sustained in formation of the government of national unity in South Africa and in Italy during the post-war struggle against fascists’ government.
However, in 1960 Moscow meeting of 81 communist and worker parties – declaration included the National Democratic Revolution for the first time was category of ex-colonial countries which could be identified as engaged in a non-capitalist path of development in opposition to imperialism towards national autonomy “doctrinal basis and justification” for growing links between Soviet Union and ex-colonial world – national bourgeoisie aligned to national working class in struggle for national democracy against imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism.
Essentially, the national democratic revolution, encompasses the two-stage theory which argue for the struggle of democratic national state as a transitory stage towards socialism and communism [short-term=National Democracy; long-term=socialist republic – 1984 constitution of SACP]. The struggle national democracy as embraced by National Democratic Revolution an immediate goal and socialism was the longer term objective in which different classes unit behind the Freedom Charter for the struggle for socialism. In a Marxists and Lenin lenses, socialism as a transitional phase between capitalism and communism – the relations of production are progressively develop or transform for instance more socialized forms of production where the means of production are appropriated for the social good over the private individual interest, after which their ownership passes into the hands of the direct producers themselves. The National Democracy is an additional phase imposed on this structure.
Assessing the National Democratic Revolution within sub-imperialists: BRICS
Another task of the National Democratic Revolution is the struggle against the imperialist regime. The formation of imperialism appears as the result of concentration and centralisation of the capital or the in Marxists abstract called the organic composition in the interest of the foreign capital to form monopoly capitalism. In assessing the National Democratic Revolution discussion, the NDR seeks to undermine the imperialism, because imperialism is dependent on the workers and instruments of labour with machines for the realisation of profit. Therefore, the national oppression was intended for global accumulation with the cheap labour, and the envisaged struggle of National Democratic Revolution is anti-capitalists in a nature that undermines the conducive conditions of the global accumulations.
The recent emergence of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) can be considered an intrinsic rejection of the global capital accumulation by United State, Europe and Japan. Does the emergence of BRICS place the National Democratic Revolution into question? Because the NDR undermine the imperialism which Lenin argues is the highest form of capitalism, but BRICS gave birth to forging the alliance between imperialists and sub-imperialists countries. According to Marxist Dependency Theory school of thought, defined the sub-imperialist country like South Africa, India and Brazil as:
“hierarchical level of the world system and at the same time as a stage of dependent capitalism (its highest stage) out of which some socio-economic formations are transformed into links in the imperialists chain without leaving the condition of economic dependency.”
In assessing the National Democratic Revolution in the 21st century, the relative autonomy of the South African as sub-imperialists state must be guarded. For example is plausible that South African Communists Party with different civic organisation and Congress of South Africa Trade Union protested against allegedly Nuclear Deal which was between imperialists Russia and sub-imperialists South Africa government. As a consequence, the relationship between the imperialists’ countries and sub-imperialists within BRICS seek to promote the international division of labour dependence. Because sub-imperialists countries such as South Africa depend on the productive capital of imperialists countries in terms of manufacturing whilst imperialists countries extract sub-imperialists natural resources for the purposes of raw material.
In relation to BRICS and the National Democratic Revolution, the NDR argues for socialisation of the means and relations of production. In other words, using Freedom Charter to which is not socialist itself but provides a basis for “an uninterrupted advance to socialism” this will result in socialization of means and relations of production. The purpose of socialization of relations and means of production it is to develop the productive forces. However, the National Democratic Revolution seeks to root-out the global capital accumulation which was on the basis of racial oppression. In this case, BRICS insists on the internationalization of the capital and internationalization as its aim to place BRICS nations at the centre of global politics and economics and because of financialisation, ecological and globalization.
In an attempt to deal with the Colonization of Special Type (CST), the CST thesis was supported by materialistic interpretation of the two-stage theory. This was inspired by Lenin’s work on the essential need to advancing a multi-class national democratic struggle—commonly referred to as the national democratic revolution. This first stage was necessary for developing capitalism, which created ‘class demarcation’ perfect for advancing political contestation required for the ultimate transition to socialism. Conversely, in the transitional stage to socialism from the national democracy in 1994, BRICS emerged. BRICS does not have a strategy to break with the global capitalist dynamics and creation of a new economic and political organization. Surely, BRICS undermines the local subject of the revolution as ought to internationalize capital ownership with assistance of local bourgeoisie.
The radical left discourse is that BRICS is an alternative to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and World Trade Organization. In this case, BRICS have interests in Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe. The National Democratic Revolution commitment for the transition to the socialism and eventually communism mode of production it is deferred by emergence of BRICS with sub-imperialists countries. Brazil interest in African minerals are growing, Patronas one of the Brazil biggest companies is present in 28 countries, investing USS$1.9 billion in coal, oil and natural gas in Nigeria in 2005. Another case involving Brazil is that currently Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) is planning to finance Eletrobras in Mozambique with US$6 billion for the construction of hydroelectric. Another take over African country is that Vele second largest mine in the world which is owned by Brazil recently signed a US$1 billion deal to build railway in Malawi to transport coal to Mozambique. The reality is that Mozambique is exploited by the sub-imperialists BRICS countries not the Western Countries.
Furthermore, Russian companies are also scattered around Africa; in fact, Baruti Amisi contended that BRICS resemble the 1885 Barlin conference which decided on “Scramble for Africa” and this is repeated by state owned companies and bourgeoisie of BRICS countries. Russia’s Multi-National Corporations (MNCs) such as Renova Campany has recently concluded a deal with South African government. South African Lonmin Campany, which is the third largest platinum producer in the world, may also have interest to Revona. Another speculated moved is that Russian Campanies such as RusAl, Norilsk Nickel, Alrosa and Renova plan to invest about US$5 billion in Sub-Saharan Africa over the next five years.
The African National Congress driven by the National Democratic Revolution in 1985 at Kabwe Conference at their Nature of the Ruling Class discussion document classified the ruling class as enemy of the revolution. The ruling class composed as the white monopoly capital in South Africa with the ownership of mines such as De Beers, South African Breweries (SAB), Anglo-America, Old Mutual, Sanlam, etc. Today they ruling might not be entirely the Western and Local Afrikaneers but ascend from the South of BRICS countries. In assessing the National Democratic Revolution, how do we move to socialism state while sustaining the interest of BRICS countries? Because we know that South Africa is just a gateway into Africa through energy or financial corporations.
Assessing the National Democratic Revolution and Just transition
“An overwhelming majority of our people are working class and poor. They do not have the capital that private companies command to become Independent Power Producers (IPPs). The development of public and social ownership in renewable energy production, in addition to ensuring that procurement is above board, remains strategically necessary and central to a just transition. If public ownership in renewable energy is not advanced and deepened directly under Eskom, it surely has to be taken forward equally decisively under a new public entity dedicated to renewable energy production. Proper management of the renewable energy transition in the context of an appropriate transitional energy mix, and having regard to the imperative of employment creation and the necessity of avoiding job losses is absolutely important as part and parcel of a just transition” 
The above quote signifies South African Communist Party’s position in the South Africa’s energy policy. The eco-socialism has given us the alternative route on how the capitalism will be negated by socialism. It is plausible that the SACP has developed the ecological approach towards South Africa’s energy production. In the Central Committee (CC), the SACP resolved for social ownership of the renewable energy. South Africa’s government in 2010 drafted the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) arguing that was to shift South Africa’s dependence on coal energy to mix-energy by 2030. The Integrated Resource Plan intended that South Africa must shift from 85% to 65% of coal energy dependence.
In addition, National Democratic Revolution it is absence of ecologically or environment issue. The global economic accumulation it is dependent on the coal energy defined by Mineral Energy Complex (MEC). Historically, the Mineral Energy Complex has been dominated by the primary sector in the premise of mining industry. Put differently, mines require a massive amount of energy. The energy requirement of the mines is power-driven by electricity. By the same vein, the functionality of the mining industry in South Africa it is determinant to the electrical produced, which at the same time requires the mining of coal to fuel power station.
Basically, the MEC perpetuates extractivism – extractivism is the exploitation of the natural resources and turns them to the mineral resources such as production of electricity. In that sense, Eskom produces high volume of electricity through burning of coal, which at the end is concentrated in the mining sector. For example deploying, Vaal Triangle as major centre of MEC. It is central because is one of the largest mega-project that generates electricity through coal for the Eskom and at the same time uses large quantity of electricity for their production.
Extractivism is caused largely by Mineral Energy Complex that is linked to the production of electricity via coal-energy in South Africa. In her seminal paper “Its Deadly Impacts and Struggles Towards A Post-Extractivist Future” Samantha Hargreaves argues that MEC or generating of electricity is linked with extractivism in numerous ways. And this extractivism is facilitated by the state in a sense that all energy mega-projects are joint owned between the state and private sector. For example the Secunda (successor of the Vaal Triangle) focused on energy and chemicals, Richard Bay focused aluminium smelting and coal exports, Seldanha (Steel) etc. In these sites private sector and state they extract and refine coal. Eskom which is the state-own enterprise purchase coal from the earlier mentioned energy plants.
Using Ecological Marxist approach, multinational corporations can attributed to the degradation of the environment. Classical Marxists have been arguing that capitalism gravediggers are the development of the productive forces and relations of production that will lead to the consciousness of the proletariat dictatorship that will overthrow the capitalists system. In other words, at the certain stage of the development of material productive forces will converge into conflict existing social relations of production this will led to socialism. However, the Ecological Marxists approach is to argue that capitalist mode of production also created nature as its gravedigger contending that depletion of fossil fuels that drives industrialization, climate change and destruction of eco-systems, desertification etc.
Assessing the National Democratic Revolution, in fighting for national sovereignty South Africa, government must build socially owned renewable energy. The socially owned renewable will give the working class, cooperatives, municipality and community ownership of the energy. Socially owned renewable energy enhances the democratic ownership in the energy sector. The socially owned renewable energy as advanced by SACP will boost the National Democratic Revolution that it is striving to advance its own (South Africa’s) democratic project with being bullied by powerful external forces such as World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Trade Organization.
Toward Re-configuration of the alliance: ANC and SACP
“The cynical have always suggested that the communists are using us. But who is to say we are not using them”
The ANC as the contested terrain at the centre of the alliance, which had at many different periods attempted to ideologically re-position itself. The ANC Youth League and Communists Party of South Africa (CPSA) conflict in the 1940s and 1950s significantly shows that there is internal and external ideological in the ANC. It was Joe Matthews in 1951 that emerged to successfully re-position the ideology in the premise of the ANCYL. Joe Matthews explicitly linked the South African struggle to a broader international struggle against the United States the ‘indirect enemy.’ Surely, the ANCYL conceived that Africans were exploited under the mode of production articulated as capitalism in the form of fascism. Therefore, the support for communist countries would culminate the support against racism and can be translated into a support for decolonisation which differentiates the ANC from the Western Countries.
In contrast, the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) in the 1940s emphasised the primacy of class struggle and the danger of nationalism obliterating the class oppression. In other words, the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) ideology with the ANC are not contradictory, however, one can argue that the contradictions are within the working class and the peasants. This happened, merely because the peasants were not in the category of the class formation. In this case, the ANC in alliance with the SACP enforced to represent the class and national oppression, as Africans suffered dual oppression, economic exploitation as workers and labourers and oppression and humiliation as the nation. But currently, there is polarisation of the working class itself based on ethnicity, gender and nationality. For example the ethnic resurgence between Vatsonga and Vavenda people at Malamulele for the municipality.
Scholars and activists have at different times conceptualised an alliance of the ANC and the SACP, some have reached a conclusion that the ANC is a capitalist organisation whereas the SACP is a socialist/left party and to confluent the two is impossible. Thus, the former represents the overwhelming majority of the working class, unemployed, rural based masses and the poor masses and the latter represents the category of the working class. Indeed, the foundation of this alliance was built on the Freedom Charter. The Freedom Charter aimed at building a broad alliance across classes and races at a national level. However, the Freedom Charter continues to be contested and interpreted differently within the Congress alliance; against the wishes of a group of Africanists (claiming that the document was foreign to African nationalism as it was socialist such as Pan-Africanist Congress).
Let’s pause and explain the role of the SACP, the Party seeks to address the immediate needs and enforce the momentary interest of the working class and equally mobilise for the revolution to overthrow the capitalist system and its replacement by socialist mode of production guided by the national democratic revolution. In the same circle, the SACP in alliance with the ANC engaged in the political programme called the NDR which is the revolution with various phases—one of the significant phases was the struggle to overthrow the colonialism and the apartheid system.
At the centre of reconfiguring the alliance, the role of the SACP is not to turn the ANC into a socialist party, but to engage in the struggle for socialism at the same time enforcing the immediate aims of the people. The struggle to overthrow capitalism cannot be separated from the struggle of the NDR. This is to say that, the SACP engaged in the class struggle without divorcing the immediate aims and enforcing the momentary interest of the working class. The ANC and SACP alliance seeks to address the national question and the people’s suffering from gender domination, poverty, unemployment and the inequality. In other words, the SACP as the revolutionary leftist cannot ignore people’s sufferings merely because it is pursuing a distant struggle for the socialist reality.
The internal configuration of the alliance must start internal within the tripartite alliance in a fight for realisation of the National Democratic Society. The national democratic society envisaged in the National Democratic Society characterised with non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa. The South African Communist in resolving to contest the state and popular power in its 14th National Congress has eluded that:
“That the 2007 12th National Congress of the SACP resolved that, while “the SACP is not, nor will it become, a narrowly electoralist formation”, “the SACP must contest elections within the context of a re-configured Alliance.” The resolution left open different modalities under which the SACP might contest elections – either on an ANC ticket but within a reconfigured Alliance, or, in the context of a re-configured Alliance, under the banner of the SACP but with a view to post-election coalitions with the ANC”
This entails that the SACP is prepared to contest 2019, however, in “context of a re-configured Alliance.” In other words, depending on re-configuration of the alliance, given that the alliance is re-configured. Surely, the re-configuration of the alliance means that the post-elections the deployment to government must reflect the power relations of the alliance. It worth repeating this notion of reconfiguration of the alliance, it entails that the decisions of deployment to state must mirror the alliance, because the SACP, COSATU and SANCO campaign for the ANC to win the elections with the aim of governing the state and advancing the National Democratic Revolution.
However, it is important that the alliance to be re-configured. The alliance must be the highest taking decision body of the Mass Democratic Movement in order to advance the National Democratic Revolution. Ideally, the alliance must decide from the municipality deployment to the ministerial deployment in order to assure that there is accountability within the state and best capable cadres are deployed across the Mass Democratic Movement. This will ensure that the ANC does not lose the site of the political programmes, the National Democratic Revolution and Freedom Charter. Moreover, the policy of the government must also be re-configured, the alliance must be the centre of government therefore policies must ascend from alliance discussions.
Finally, the role of the SACP is not to change the ANC into a socialist movement, but to cater the class consciousness and for the overarching of the neo-liberal and realism ideology with the radical left perspective. The SACP and the ANC tasked themselves to mobilise the motive forces in order to overthrow the capitalist system and install socialism for the development of the productive forces.
However, the SACP had contended that the motive force must be led by the working class of the national democratic revolution – acknowledging the fact that the working class cannot be categorised as the motive forces by virtue of working class classification. The motive force is defined by class conscious and the responsibilities. The tasks and the responsibilities of being the motive force must be won on the ground and through engaging solid struggles. The SACP developed Medium Term Vision [MTV] in order to build the working class as the motive force and remoulding the working class as a result of deepening the national democratic revolution.
Ashley Nyiko Mabasa is Wits YCLSA Shimi Matlala Branch Secretary
LET ENGAGE COMRADES!
 Lenin – Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism1, 1968 in Connor, JE (ed) – hzn&n. on Eblibics and Involution (New York: Pegasus)p. 47
 Luce Mathia “Sub-imperialism, the highest stage of dependent capitalism”
 Lenin, 1917: The State and Revolution.
 Neocosmos 1993: 17-18
 Amisi, Bond, Kamidza, Maguwu and Peek 2015: “BRICS, Anti-Capitalists Critique”
 ANC, 1985 “Nature of the Ruling Class” Page
 Amnsi Bond, Kamidza, Maguwu and Peek 2015: “BRICS, Anti-Capitalists Critique.”
 SACP, 2018 Central Committee Statement.
 Fine and Rustomjee 1996
 Nelson Mandela , ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ 1995; 139
 The SACP “14th National Congress, declarations and resolutions” 2017, Page 51