Why the DA’s offering is not critical to resolving South Africa challenges: A Response to Mmusi Maimane


South Africa is currently confronted with complex questions to resolve – the questions of race, class, xenophobia and ethnic resurgence.  With political nuance at the heart of these questions, Democratic Alliance is not a solution either the Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF). These issues need to be treated with ideological and organisational diligence due to their complexity; they are not for the provocateurs and populists such as Julius Malema and Mmusi Maimane.

The former President of Ghana Kwame Nkrumha in his seminal book titled Class Struggle in Africa 1970, invoked the debate on race and class. The dual analysis of class and race was not new at the time as the Bandung Conference of 1955, in which 29 countries from Asia and Africa convened, attempted to resolve the same issue. Nkrumah succinctly pointed out that the problem with most African countries is racist-capitalist economic structure.

In his article published at Daily Maverick on 28 August 2018, Mmusi Maimane argues that DA is a solution for South Africa’s problems of inequality. However, Mmusi neglected to annunciate the terms class and racism in his article, not to mention that he believes that in South Africa peace can be ushered without resolving the issue of economic property ownership. It is disillusioned to propose that in a country where much of the wealth is packaged within land, mineral resources  and agricultural produce it is possible to rectify inequality without fair redistribution of these resources to the deprived majority.

One has to commend the ANC for attempting to unite South Africans and hold different ethnicities together under a national identity since the democratic dispensation. Meanwhile, white conservatives like Helen Zille continue to obliviously defend the crime of colonisation whilst Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu attempt to tear our envisaged national democratic society with their race reductionist and narrow nativism comments – such as the recent claim that majority of Indians are racists. Here, DA and EFF are in the same category – trying to divide South Africans to a gain votes in 2019 national elections.  Both the political parties fail to articulate a clear strategic and tactical vision on how we build a better South Africa packaged in non-racism, non-sexist and equitable democratic society.

The repeated cases of DA Western Premier Helen Zille praising colonisation as a vehicle which helped South Africa to civilise is repugnant. It is fundamentally false to claim that all South Africans continue to benefit from colonialism, because colonialism as a system was not created for the benefit of the colonised Africans – it was resource extraction project. The minimal infrastructure developed in colonised nations such as South Africa was either needed for the extraction of resources or created for the benefit of the settler colonial capitalists who oversaw the plundering. For instance, Cecil John Rhodes did not donate the land that the University of Cape Town was built on with the intention that black students would one day attend that institution, in fact the imperialist would roll in his grave at the knowledge that such a thing was happening.

Helen Zille is continuing the tradition of European modernity and renaissance theology of trying to justify colonisation and stealing of African mineral resources by metropolitan states such as British, Belgium, and Portugal coloniser as civilisation process. Mmusi Maimane could not decisively address the question of colonisation raised by his predecessor in DA and the legacy of apartheid racism today.

It is undeniable, that racism continues to exist side by side with inequality in South Africa and has imbedded itself within structures of South Africa’s economy. Conversely, Mmusi Maimane simply argued that he desires to do what has never been done in South Africa – to unite South Africans along their race. It is troubling that he does not mention the racialised class system’s roll in South African racial conflict. As he contends:

“I have a different vision, one I am willing to fight for no matter how unpopular, and no matter how much resistance I face. For me, South Africas road to unity and prosperity lies in bringing together people of all races to right the wrongs of the past while simultaneously building a thriving, growing, diverse country for all. I am not oblivious to the enormity of the task; indeed, we are trying to do what has never been done in South Africa’s history. That is, bring together a fractured, divided society on the basis of shared values.”

It is troubling that Mmusi Maimane believes that he can unite South Africans of all races to rally behind the objectives of building united society based on neo-liberalism. This is a fallacy; his vision completely fails to recognise that the biggest divider in our society is the economic inequality between the black and the white population.

At this point the ANC has attempted to radically deal with inequality adversities since the democratic transition establishment of the social transfers, providing free health care, free primary and elementary school with feeding scheme and recently introduced the free high education in the university. I can attest as the beneficiary of the aforementioned state social intervention. But still South Africa is still divided along class and race.

The DA should admit that does not have a vision to confront the issue of race and its bedrock of class in our society and they are incapable of solving such race and class. South Africa racism has found itself entrench behind ownership patterns, in the case of land, it was only 2% of the white families owning about 80% of the land in South Africa. This further displays itself in the inequality patterns, black South Africans earn on the average of about R2600 a month contrary to their white counterparts who earn an average income of about R11 700 a month (According 2016 statistic South Africa figures). This further goes to the inappropriate numbers of high institution graduates, in this case between 2002 to 2017, black Africans who graduated in 2002 were 2,9% of the total graduates and 2017 they were a mere 3,4%  whilst white graduates in 2002 were 15,5% and 2017 18,0% of the total graduates. Surely, these numbers are hiding complexity behind them and the complexity is that race and class continue to be the real problem in South Africa.

Mmusi Maimane does not have a vision to deal with the racialised inequalities because liberal democrats who take neo-liberal economic positions always think dialogue can be panacea for our complex problems of poverty, unemployment and inequality. The reality is that in a society such as South Africa racism will never end without dismantling the capitalism and replacing it with democratic socialism. As under apartheid, black people continue experience double-exploitation on the basis of class and colour of their skin.  This was not only condition existing in South Africa it exists in Caribbean, USA, Latin America, and Brazil etc.

Therefore, DA’s visions of building united South Africa at the centre of neo-liberal economy cannot close the gap of racialised inequality and eradicate poverty. The only strategic framework that can end racism is by building a socialist economy. In this case, DA has to face reality and concur with Ghana revolutionary struggle icon Kwame Nkrumah when he succinctly contends:

“A non-racial society can only be achieved by socialists’ revolutionary action of the masses. It will never come as a gift from the minority ruling class. For it is impossible to separate race relations from the capitalist class relationships in which they have roots

He further argue that: “It is only the ending of capitalism, colonialism, imperialism and neo-colonialism and the attainment of world communism that can provide the conditions under which the race question can finally be abolished and eliminated.”

This is not irrelevant to contemporary South Africa, a society which the former President Thabo Mbeki characterised as having two nations, one nation rich and white and the other nation black and poor. So it is wrong of Mmusi Maimane to say that the ideology of the National Democratic Revolution is not an answer to South Africa’s challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment. It is clear that race and class are intertwined in our society – one can not address the former without addressing the latter. This is the duality which most democratic liberals such as Mmusi Maimane fail to understand – they want to address the social racism without addressing racialised inequality and poverty. Under a post-colonial capitalist society such as South Africa and the Brazil, the working class will remain overwhelmingly black because the overwhelming majority of South Africans are black.

The DA fails to acknowledge that, even though, the political white supremacy has  been ended in 1994, the large portion of the structures  of racial capitalism continue to be in place, with it, the concentration of the large economic power and privilege is still in the hands of very few white people. Indeed, Mmusi Maimane hesitantly agrees that race from apartheid to today remains the biggest network to access opportunities in South Africa, especially in private sector like Banks. It is clear that if the DA ever ascends to power, the transformation process will remain stagnant as long as the economic power and wealth that is accumulated through the racial structure remain unchanged. Today white people still control 90% of South African wealth. For example, Rupert’s Remgro, with different companies under Remgro group they have shares in more than seven of the top 25 JSE-listed companies.

In attempt to problamatise state capture, Mmusi Maimane’s critique considers the phenomenon at face-value and shows a lack of understanding regarding the nature of the capitalist society and the state. The capitalist society is one where the state depends on the collection of tax revenue to function and to provide services such as social grants, paying public servants and executing service delivery. At this point, the state must make the environment conducive for businesses to invest in South Africa to create jobs. Acquiring investment comes with conditions from private sector and conditions on policies of the state this can happen through World Economic Forum meeting or BRICS summits. It is clear that if the state fails to acquire investment to create jobs the unemployment will increase and that could lead to electoral loss for the governing party.

Mmusi Maimane failed to critically engage with the ANC’s strategic and tactic framework and its emancipation vision. In this case, the ANC 54th National Congress last year December 2017 has resolved in building the Developmental State, for industrialisation through active industrial policy such as Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) by Department of Trade and Industry while at the same time implementing policies to redistribute social income to promote education and achieve other social goals, like South Korea and Singapore. The ANC objectives of developmental state are as follows:

  • Enhance and Speed up economic growth, National Development Plan (NDP).
  • Build capacity for growth and development, advance local products and revive local manufacturing.
  • Advance state policy such as IPAP.
  • Build the state capacity to be able to authoritatively, credible and legitimately discipline the capital through building state institution to monitor clear coordination of state policies and extend powers of Competition Commission Act 89 of 1998 powers.

The party that Mmusi Maimane is leading even opposed to the expropriation of land without compensation, including the currently tabled motion in parliament of amending the Bank Act of 1990 to create a state bank and allow it to compete with main stream commercial banks. The state bank that can assist poor people, predominately black people from rural areas and township because will not be driven by narrow motive of profit interest. Still, DA member of the Finance Committee Gwen Ngwenya opposed this motion arguing that:

We think this is incredibly reckless especially when you mentioning things like extending vehicle finance to really what we are talking about as the poorest of the poor because when you are talking about the unbanked, you are talking about those people which private sector banks clearly with their risk profile, have seen that they would not be able to extend credit services to…”

It is clear that the DA does not have a clear vision to help poor people – its mandate is to maintain the status quo of inequality. Surely, if Mmusi Maimane believes the DA is the future he would be concerned with the monopoly of the main stream financial institutions that are untransformed. For instance, it is not right that about 80% of the deposit, credits, and loans for businesses, cars and houses are still concentrated into only the “big-four” banks, FNB, Abasa, Standard Bank and Nedbank. Clearly, there is need for state bank to dismantle this white monopoly capital in the financial sector.

The DA is not the future for many South Africans and Mmusi Maimane is wrong to think that DA can solve South Africa’s complex challenges. The ANC government has tried and continues to try to resolve South Africa’s burning challenges such as unemployment, poverty and inequality. Since the democratic dispensation, the black middle class numerical is slowly surpassing the white middle class and with the social welfare initiatives from government such as social grant and free education our society is progressing – and that is the only paragon that can unite South Africans. I have to attest that I am the huge beneficiary of the ANC government social transfers including free primary and second school education with feeding schemes, social grants and NSFAS funding. Mmusi Maimane must face the reality that the neo-liberal DA is not critical to the future of South Africa.

Ashley Nyiko Mabasa

YCLSA Wits Branch Secretary






Assessing the NDR in the 21st Century: In case of BRICS, Environment and Re-Configuration of the Alliance

Image result for Reconfiguration of the alliance

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.[1]

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.”[2]

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[3] 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.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6] 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[7] 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.[8] 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.[9]

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” [10]              


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.[11] 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[12]. 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”[13]

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”[14]

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!

[1] Lenin – Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism1, 1968 in Connor, JE (ed) – hzn&n. on Eblibics and Involution (New York: Pegasus)p. 47

[2] Luce Mathia “Sub-imperialism, the highest stage of dependent capitalism”

[3] Lenin, 1917: The State and Revolution.

[4] Neocosmos 1993: 17-18

[5] Amisi, Bond, Kamidza, Maguwu and Peek 2015: “BRICS, Anti-Capitalists Critique”

[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid

[8] ANC, 1985 “Nature of the Ruling Class” Page

[9] Amnsi Bond, Kamidza, Maguwu and Peek 2015: “BRICS, Anti-Capitalists Critique.”

[10] SACP, 2018 Central Committee Statement.

[12] Fine and Rustomjee 1996

[13] Nelson Mandela , ‘Long Walk to Freedom’  1995; 139

[14] The SACP “14th National Congress, declarations and resolutions” 2017, Page 51

Toward Building Local Economy, Rhetoric aside

Image result for mec lebogang maile township economy


By Ashley Nyiko Mabasa

The ANC government has been turning a blind eye to the revitalisation of the township economy for the longest time. Our township economy continues to reflect the legacy of the apartheid, where cheap black labour is reserved for the industrial sector in the cities – initially in the mining sector and in now also in the rector.
Globalised capitalism and local monopoly capitalism is entrenched in the townships. This is best represented by shopping malls. It is ironic that with our high inequality, poverty and unemployment our country also has a higher number of shopping centres than the United Kingdom, our country has about 1 750 shopping centre while the much wealthier United Kingdom has about 1000.

Our country has no control over how global capitalism impacts the lives of our citizens. Capitalism has been entrenched in South Africa since 1980s when apartheid government introduced its neo-liberal policies. In 1996 the ANC government, through a class project by former Trade and Industry Minister Trevor Munuel, reached agreement with World Trade Organisation (WTO) that the WTO must regulate our tariffs imports from Europe and the US.  Unlike other global South countries South Africa voluntarily adopted this structural adjustment policy of trade liberation and financialisation of our market. Former president Thabo Mbeki justified this decision by arguing that he adopted a neo-liberalism economic framework to settle the country’s international debt.

The government, in an unholy trinity with the WTO and World Bank, reached an agreement which resulted in the deindustrialisation of South Africa’s local economy and the cementing of the global market’s hegemonic power to determine South Africa’s maize and breads prices. Noting that the apartheid government used to have Maize Boards whereby they regulated maize prices without global forces. Today the South African maize price is determined global forces in Chicago.

Our government’s agreement with the WTO subsequently led to key sectors deindustrialising such as textiles, clothing and electronics. This can also be attributed to delay of the economic transformation of townships since the 1994 democratic breakthrough. Our dilapidated townships continue reflect the reality of life for the black working class and the poor. They exist in the permanent vacation of consuming without producing anything due to lack of employment and industrialisation.

However, the Gauteng government led by young and vibrant ANC leaders came to the fore with a progressive plan to revitalise the township economy. It is plausible that the Gauteng government through the MEC for Economic Development, Lebogang Maile, initiated the revitalization of the township economies project. The township economy emerged as the direct response to poverty, inequality and unemployment. Let’s acknowledge the fact that Gauteng’s provincial government interventions into township economy came as an attempt to address consequences of capitalism entrenched by the Thabo Mbeki administration.

The Gauteng township economy project seeks to build inclusive economy and alleviate poverty and inequality in Gauteng.  Since the inception of this project, Gauteng government has been playing significant role in building township economy. Today, Gauteng has 14 registered co-operative banking institutions serving over 16,000 member-owners, with over R100 million in savings and R150 million in assets. This is a commendable intervention to deal with the negative impacts of neo-liberalism economy.

Revival of Township Economy Stokvels

Stokvels have long existed in South Africa. Their origin can be traced to the colonial and apartheid regimes which marginalised black South Africans and excluded them from the mainstream economy. The fact of the matter is that stokvels appeared in the black communities so that black people could survive the economic and social oppression imposed on them by the apartheid system and buttressed by racial, class and gender exploitation.

Conversely, the first component of Stokvel was the Bantu Burial Society formed in 1932. Our ANC government must unbundle the economy, by bringing Stokvels and burial societies into the mainstream economy. This will automatically revitalise the township economy. The township economy must be revived by boosting the stokvels, and then those participating in stokvels must also purchase the locally produced products.

In the post-apartheid, stokvels are considered informal organisations by the banking sector, although they are governed by a set of rules and principles through their members. These capitalist driven stereotypes behind stokvels continue to exist in our townships and rural areas in order to downplay township economy.

The stokvels have and continue to keep the finances of black people, especially the striving working class, afloat because they create social economy where black people can collectively save their money and buy each other groceries at the certain time of the year or pay out money invested to members instead. Stokvels contribute to the economy of our country. Our government must begin to assess the ways in which they can penetrate the Stokvel industry and grow it to eventually be incorporated into the mainstream economy. Over the years Stokvels in our country have been growing phenomenally.

Stokvels also seriously contribute to community development and local economic growth in several ways: such as the creation of employment and micro businesses. In other words, stokvels strongly contribute to the promotion of financial capital, social capital and social cohesion. On the other hand, they also significantly serve the market—they are reported contribute about R45 billion to the economy. Our government must fully capitalise on and invest in township economies to eradicate poverty.

A Black Economy that benefits white monopoly capitalism

It is estimated that there are 800 000 stokvel groups with 11 million individual members. Gauteng standing at 24% of the people engaging in stokvels . Gauteng has the largest townships in South Africa the combination of Soweto, Tembisa and Katlehong has almost 2 million people.

The Old Mutual Savings and Investment Monitor Annual Survey embarked on the task of contacting black Africa households about their investments. In 2016 they reveal the fact that the Stokvel sector’s economic estimated economic share has increased to R49 billion in savings and 8% of them, which is about R8.8 billion, were formed for buying groceries.

Again, the Old Mutual Annual Survey Report in 2016 further showed that usage of Stokvels in South Africa by black households has increased from 50% in 2010 to 59% in 2016. As a consequence, there are different types of Stokvels. Topping the list of types of stokvels that black household members belonged to in 2016 were the Burial Stokvel at 34%, followed by the Grocery Stokvels at 18%. At the same time, these stokvels and burial societies consume global products such as groceries produced by multinational companies.

The ANC government, in line with their 54th National Elective Conference, adopted the Radical-Socio Economic Transformation. The revitalization of the township economy is very important and Stokvels and burial societies are central to boosting this development. The ANC must also revitalise the township economy in order to solidify transformation of the economy for black people.

Dismantling the apartheid-capitalists legal framework

Consequently, our government must revisit the Friendly Society Act of 1956 and Bank Act of 1990. This was the strategic framework put together by the apartheid and capitalism relations government because they wanted burial societies to work in a way which would benefit the apartheid financial institutions such as banks. Burial societies are supposed to open an account with a bank and they were not allowed to accumulate money without banking it. As well, the Bank Act recognises stokvels within a legal entity, and place limits to the maximum level of deposits for a Stokvel to R9.99 million.

The ANC government must adopt the bottom-up approach in dealing with economic transformation. If it is serious about the call for radical economic transformation they must start by amending Friendly Society Act of 1956 and Bank Act of 1990. This will allow small scale burial societies to open accounts with banks. Currently, many burial societies open bank accounts as cooperatives and some keep their money under mattresses – a seemingly comical idea but a real consequence of structural economic exclusion.

Still today these financial Acts benefit only big banks such as FNB, Standard Bank, Absa etc. The state must attempt to eradicate these laws which work in favour of monopoly capitalism through forcing burial societies to work with banks and giving banks the ability to put a restriction of amount of money stokvels accounts can hold. Our government must continue to buffer the Cooperative Act of 2005 and amend the National Credit Act of 2006 because this Act puts limits on the interest rates for loans, which currently stand at 32% per annum. As it currently stands, the phenomena of Stokvels are considered informal financial structures (the majority of them) and impossible to apply the National Credit Act to these stokvels. Our government must clearly scrutinise these laws in order to make them work in favour of the stokvels directly and the broader township economies as a consequence.

There is no clear Act which governs the stokvels but they are regulated by National of Skovel Association of South Africa and the apartheid Bank Act of 1990. This is troubling because, post the-apartheid regime, our government has not paid enough attention in the development of stokvels. National Stokvel Association of South Africa is the mobilising group of stokvels and it is only authorised by the Reserve Bank. I have argued several times that stokvels must have a direct legislation outside of National Stokvel Association of South Africa that will allow them to have a strong legal basis to function.


In 2004 the South African Communist Party (SACP) made a critical call to the Financial Sector Campaign Coalition (FSCC) and SAFOBS. These are entities created to enhance the regulation of burial societies mostly in the townships. The General Secretary of the SACP Blade Nzimande, in his address on 16 October 2004 at Johannesburg City Hall, called upon SAFOBS and FSCC to ensure that burial societies can deal with banks on the basis of the needs and interests of members of burial societies and not based on profits for banks.

The SACP since its launch of the  FSCC in 2000 has been placing pressure on the South Africa’s financial institutions to be in considerate of the poor and the working class. The SACP campaigned against the banks exploiting the poor and called for our government to transform the financial sector. In a call for transformation of the South Africa financial sector SACP called for the following:

“Creation of a co-operative banking sector, in which the savings of the working class are decided by the working class itself and be used to address the developmental needs of our people. For example, in a country like Cyprus, co-operative banks, which are legislated in law, provide for housing, infrastructure and loans to ordinary people at rates below the lending rates of commercial banks. There is no reason why we should not be saying the time has come now for the workers’ to reclaim their stokvel money , insurance investments and their provident funds to be used for the benefit of the people themselves” [1]

The SACP must revive and intensify the FSCC and the call for our government to establish the state bank that will only focus on township economy. This bank must solely focus on stokvels and burial societies. It must push our government to assess the cooperative, because 85% of cooperatives funded by state failed while our government has already spent around R1billion on cooperatives.

Build a state bank to boost the local economy

Our government must strategically boost the township economy by boosting stokvels. This can happen in a variety of ways, the first leading back to the perpetual debate that our government must establish a state bank. Studying the economic development of Britain, one will see that British government was controlling their banks. This is not dissimilar to the National Party 1989 resolution to nationalise the reserve bank and the ANC elective conference 2017 resolutions that the party must further take a steps to nationalise South Africa’s reserve bank.

Clearly, with a state bank and the nationalisation of the reserve bank, our people can afford to make their banking transactions cheaper contrary to the status quo where in 2004 Standard Bank alone was taking, through bank charges, about 6 cents for every deposit made by each member of more than 50 000 members. This comes to close R300 000 per month. It is troubling that in post-apartheid black South people continue to be financial enslaved by banks.

The Post Office through the Postbank, a state financial institution, holds a higher ratio of stokvel accounts than any other bank except Nedbank. The government must revive the Post Office and boost township economy by encouraging the stokvels and burial societies to bank with them. However, the Post-Office must be treated as the workers and community bank. The Post-Office must not be involved in the mainstream speculative markets of the financial sector. A good example of this is the Northern Province of Italy, which did not engage in financial markets, hence the 2008 bubble burst did not affect Northern Province of Italy.

Practical fight capitalism system

Surely there is a need for a combat strategy to replace the capitalist model, especially in the financial sector and agricultural sector. And it is fundamentally essential for the land issue to be resolved in line with rebuilding the South African manufacturing sector. So that most of the food purchased by South Africans can be manufactured or processed in our country. The ANC, during its watershed 2017 elective conference, resolved for the expropriation of land without compensation. As former Chinese President Mao Zedong pointed that “a revolution is not the same as inviting people to dinner.” If the ANC is serious about Radical Socio-Economic Transformation, then they must use the Industrial Development and Corporation (IDC) and Land Bank to strongly fund black farms. Local food production must be supported to boost our food security and reclaim our food sovereignty from global North countries. Legislature needs to be developed create strong cooperatives.

Let’s pause and check the facts, grocery stokvels contributes a lot to our economy. For example, Shoprite (69.9%), Pick ‘n Pay (49.2%) and Spar (32.9%) are the three main retail outlets used by individuals for their grocery purchases. When it comes to shopping for the stokvel, this varies slightly with the top 3 outlets being independent wholesalers (23.3%), Shoprite (20.7%) and Spar (10.6%).  If these groceries are purchased locally the township economy, for instance in retail consumer cooperatives, these can rapidly revitalise our township economic. Therefore, the consumer cooperative appears more significant to the sale and supply of the local food to the Stokvel members. Given that the primary challenge faced by stokvels is the lack of transport; our government must supplement the members of Stokvels buying at local cooperatives with transport to deliver.

Our society is confronted with enormous social and economic challenges which can partially be resolved by revitalise the township economy through boosting stokvels and burial societies. Our nation needs an urgent solution to address three oppressions; poverty, unemployment and inequality. Again, boosting stokvels and burial societies can help to deal with some of these challenges. Stokvels will then start prioritising the township based shops and consumer cooperatives retails as their primary supplier for groceries.

Finally, the ANC government must critically attempt to assist black people to revitalise their local economies by helping them to integrate the local economy into the mainstream economy. This might also improve their living conditions and create job opportunities. Ultimately, our government will be minimizing social and economic problems such as inequality, unemployment and poverty among black people.

Ashley Nyiko Mabasa

YCLSA Shimi Matlala Wits Secretary

Does Marxism have a place in radical student politics today?


Image result for karl marx 200




                                        By: Ashley NyikoMabasa[1]


Marxism remains prominent body of ideas in the revolutionary students’ politics, youth politics and in a broader scope of our politics in South Africa.  It is usually referred to as the “Left politics.” The left it is associated with the Communist Parties in the world and can also be founded in the student politics. Indeed, Marxists ideas has penetrated the students’ politics and has managed to pose an impact in the nature of students’ politics, strategy and tactics framework, mobilisation, theory and ideology and organising themselves.

Many students’ organisations, historically and contemporary had embraced the ideas of Marxism with “declaring” themselves as Marxists-Leninist, the Left or Socialists. Historically, Africa’s student politics[2] were scattered in the liberation movements particularly the nationalist movement and Communist Party. As student politics and students’ activism remain outstanding matter for large number of world universities, globally, university students continue to be politically active and engaged, and from time to time, they contribute to the ideas of society.[3]

The contestation and incorporation Marxists ideas is evident in two events historic in South African Universities namely the campaign of #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall. These two-distinct series of historic events articulated the intersectionality politics of gender, class and race. In these campaigns, Marxists ideas were evidently contesting the space dominated by racial politics. Here, I will show the importance of Marxist these two historic struggles organised and led by students.

This input, will also show the undying debate between Archie Majefe and Ruth First about the 1976 students uprising. In which I believe it was reflection of students from the working-class background resisting the coercive nature of the apartheid state.  I find both of them ascending from the left politics, though Mafeje happen to make mockery of the South Africa left thinkers. This can be premised to ever continuing students’ politics debate; whether Marxism is European conceptualisation, or it is applicable to South Africa. I will clearly show how students’ embrace and dismiss Marxist ideas under the emergent “fallist”. In this way, I will be showing how the Marxists ideas used and understood in these youth and student politics.

Marxism for students: Conceptual foundation

The student movement, continues to use politically and ideologically approaches to guide their actions and channel their movement towards these beliefs. In this case, Marxism appears to be a strong ideologically tool for student movements and for students in generally. Not to dismiss the Pan-Africanism and other aspect of black radical thought ideas. Marxism is the comprehensive scientific worldview for understanding the complexity of the social world. This ideology provides us with theoretical weapons necessary to attack the mystifications of capitalism and offer us the vision needed to mobilise masses for struggle.

Marxists ideas continue to be persistent under our current social formation.[4]The undying body of ideas encompassed as Marxists ideas within student politics and youth organisations in South Africa will continue to exist as long we are still defined by the system of capitalism—that functions under the profit logic and exploitation of the workers. The fundamentally, motive behind Marxism for students is to destruct the raise the class consciousness to transform our superstructure such as university, education system, the state, culture and redefine the religion to reflect the interest of the working class.

Marxism ideas guide students to understand their location within class formation in the society. It further shows the students inability to carry the revolution without working class, as the students are not located within production system. I feel as, the students understand that Marxist ideas are not static. Hence, students ’activism defies dogmatic/classical Marxism which argues that capitalism has inherited limited to its sustainability. Put this differently, Marx argue that since ‘the composition of capital’ tends to increase with the development of capitalism, and thus the costs of capital relative to labour will increase over time, the profit-generating capacity of capitalism declines as a proportion of total costs and thus the rate of profit tends to decline.

As I have argued that classical Marxists ideas of predicting the fall of capitalism through the overproduction do not find expression with student politics. Since that overproduction it is eventually consumed/absorbed by the state and other innovative institutions. For example, when the capitalism system hit a crisis like in 2008 the state intervenes in the interest of the bourgeoisie. In the same vein, students are practically convinced with the idea of revolution and engaging in the class struggle. This is not dissimilar to Russian revolution, China, and Cuba.

The relevance of Marxism to student

The relevance of Marxists tradition can be located within student politics. Though other student movements some are critical of Marxism literature or theory because of its nature of being universal or speaking the universal language or founded in the premise of European. However, this is not new debates, one would think of the 1970s at University of Des Salaam about the Marxist Leninist ideas and its relevance to South Africa.

It is interesting to find that Pan-Africanists who have experienced the colonialism and apartheid. The colonialism was aimed concentrating the capital and eventually centralising capital to formulate monopoly capitalism. At same time, global there was a Cold War accompanied by the ideological positioning between Marxism ideas and Western liberalists ideas who were attempting to maintain the status quo. The cold war was also about sub-imperialism. Hence, Rosa Luxemburg contended that the post-world war two created sub-imperialism which was (continue) to be focused on extra-economy. This is accumulation based on dispossession, and exploitation between capitalism and non-capitalism relations.

Surely, coming to South Africa around 1970s it was a year black workers organised and mobilized themselves in the industrials sites, we have seen with Durban strikes. In other words, the Tendency of the Workerists Marxists argued that the 1960s to 1980s wave-democratization of the most global South countries can be attributed to the radical workers struggle. One have reached the logically conclusion that that workers strike was influenced by Workers Marxists Tendency (WMT). Subsequently, the University of Stellenbosch here in Cape Town had established the Marxist centre funded by South Africa Defense Force to demonize Marxism theory to students.[5]

South Africa’s social formation continue to reflect European social formation as the results of colonization and apartheid project.  Therefore, it is not irrelevant to use the Marxist theory because it is founded in a European language as an attempt to address South Africa social change. As the students one would anticipate that we must aspire to entertain different ideas at the same time we must cognisant of the production of ideas. And Marxism ideas are the ideas representing the working class base because seek to defy and aspire to overthrow the capitalism mode of production. Which one can attribute poverty, inequality and unemployment of our people to capitalism?

Using Marxists lenses, I am aware of how our complex society functions. Marxism-Leninism can act as our material guidelines in transforming the society, but given that it is read and interpreted correctly. One cannot not say he or she is a Marxism-Leninims but void of Marxism-Leninism in addressing the students’ issues like SASCO. Because Marxism theory helps us to, answer, draw, and analysis complexity questions arising from the society.

Marxism as European Epistemology and idea of the revolution

Some point pointed out that Marxism is a European ideology, because Karl Marx himself he was born in Trier at Germany and he write about European society. They even go far to quoting from Manifesto of the Communist Party that, “A spectre is hunting Europe—the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a hold alliance to exercise this Spectre.”[6]  Indeed, it is correct that the revolutionary spirit of communism in the 19th Century influenced the European countries to challenge their social formation.

In addition, around 1848 at the time Marx and Engels made a submission of the Manifesto of the Communist Party the revolution happened in Europe. The European masses were uniting and rising against the European Monarchies in Germany, Austrian Empire, Italy, and the France. However, due to the limitations of time to dwell into the essence of the revolution to assess whether it was a failure or success. But Marx at the Eighteenth Brumaire predicted that the French revolution would be “concentrated all its forces of destruction” against the executive power, and smash the bureaucratic and military apparatus[7] Marx’s prediction prevailed in 1871 when the industrialised worker seized the Paris state and turned it to a Paris Commune, where the workers take charge of the state and dictated/overthrew the bourgeoisie state of Paris. Conversely, within seven months, the bourgeoisie organised themselves and seizure back the state from the workers. At the time, Marx in his analysis to Paris Commune warned the proletariats that after overthrowing the existing government, they must not lay down their arms.

In the history of the Manifesto of the Communist Party, as the Marxists we cannot ignore the European Revolution at the time. Subsequently, in the 20th century the Russian revolution happened in 1917. The Russian revolution signified the struggle for revolutionary change from the ground. The Communist Party in Russia overthrew the monarchy tribal rule of Tsar Government in replacement with communist party. This is the second account of Marx’s literature influence of Eastern Europe emancipation vision.

The question remain that; we can see that Marx work influence European Countries so how is relevant to Africa? Marx is important to the struggle of Africa and the rest of the world. It is also ignorant to paint Marx theory as European theory. This debate is not new in Africa, different activists and scholars have attempted to answer it. Of course, Marx was white man and was writing about the European classical capitalism at his time. Importantly, is that Marxism as body of ideas always evolves, in that way there is no one Marxism, there are Marxisms stemming from with common roots with different branches.

In evolving of Marxists ideas, the Global South has transcended some of the Marxist ideas and develop some those ideas to be applicable to their social formation. The Global South liberation struggle was fought with the body of Marx ideas at hand. The struggle to defeat ruling class and colonialist fascists Portuguese at Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Somalia and Burkina Faso was driven by Marxists ideas. Hence, Walter Rodney in his seminal piece “Marxism in Africa.[8] He pointed out that those who premised Marxists idea in a Eurocentric domicile do not understand the foundation of Marxism theory and he charecterised them as follow:

“They[9] seem not to take into account that already that methodology[10] and that ideology have been utilized, internalized, domesticated in large parts of the world that are not European. That it is already the ideology of eight hundred million Chinise people; that is already the ideology which guided the Vietnamese people to successful struggle and defeat of imperialism. That it is ideology which allows North Korea to transform itself from a backward quasi-feudal, quasi-colonial terrain into independent power. That it is already ideology which has been adopted on the Latin American continent and that serves as the basis for development in Republic of Cuba. That is already the ideology used by Samora Machel,  which is in use in the Africa continent itself to underline and underscore struggle and the construction of a new society”[11]

It is troubling that in 2018, there are still activists, students and academics who categorise and dismiss Marxism ideas as Eurocentric ideas. Marxism ideas cannot be termed Eurocentric because Marx  did not write about African countries or because he was born in Germany. Marxism is applicable in South Africa’s social formation of racial capitalists’ state. The challenge that has portrayed by South African left thinkers is that they extract Marxism of 19th century exactly the way it is as an attempt to answer South African problems.

The South African Communist Party (SACP) is guided by the resolutions of the third International from its inception of its predecessor CPSA. The left thinkers in South Africa are the consequent of the “twenty-one points laid down by the Third International or Comintern” [12] Hence Archie Mafeje (1988) argued that Vladimir Lenin then the leader of Soviet Community Party designed the twenty-one points especially for the leadership of the socialist party in capitalist Europe where there are industrialised working class and engaged Marxists. By imposing a Russian Marxism on the SACP whites/Europeans intended to control and guide SACP. This had largely contributed to South African left thinkers misrepresenting Marxism ideas in attempt to forges solutions for South Africa’s capitalism mode of production.

At the heart of this debate, it is in consideration that capitalism in South Africa did not organically develop but it was imposed by the colonial regime. As Walter Rodney in his seminal work “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” in 1972 contended that European colonizers installed capitalism using the mode of colonization, as they incorporated their European administration to the local Africa administration this reflected the European organizational structure of governance or the modern state. This is to say that South Africa’s social formation it is reflection of European social formation as the results of colonization.  Therefore, it is not irrelevant to use the Marxist theory as an attempt to address South Africa social change.

Marxism as a Revolution Theory

Clearly, the strength of the ideological position Marxism-Leninism as the unifying force and have ability to withstand the test of factionalism and ideological opposition. Marxism-Leninism can be a unifying force of race, nationals, different ethnic groupings, and gender to fight against the reactionary forces of capitalism. For example Marxists understand that the issue of race is functionality within capitalist accumulation. Marxist has argued that racism divides the working class and needs to be challenged through a politics of solidarity amount the working class. Marxism views the universality in working class identity trumping the particularity of racism.

In addition, drawing from historical debate and the articulations[13] between pre-capitalism and capitalist modes of production. In our country, the connection between race and class took a particular urgency with the apartheid state’s systemic race based political oppression that can be converged with capitalist exploitation. Since post-1994, the patterns of apartheid racial oppression are continuing through capitalism that both eroded and reproduced forms of racial oppression. Therefore, to understand the continuation of racial oppression there and in many other places of the world within global capitalism requires a new Marxist analysis, which has thus far not emerged in our country.

Indeed, without a revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.[14]In defence of YCLSA ideological approach of Marxism, which to the best of our knowledge we consider to be revolutionary, against unfounded attacks and an enemy of all criticism. We are using theory of revolution which has been historically proven around the world.

Marxism Leninism as form of practice: Ruth First-YCLSA and Archie Mafeje

I want to draw from Ruth First and Archie Mafeje debate in the aftermath of the 1976 students uprising. Archie Mafeje was a great intellectual who, in 1968 was unfairly denied a senior lectureship position at University of Cape Town because of the discriminative laws. Whereas Ruth First was an accomplished organic intellectual, journalists by profession and truly committed activist in the struggle against the apartheid—she also serve as the Young Communist League of South Africa (YCLSA). There are number of issues emanated from the debate. Ranging from issues around students and workers’ alliance; Black consciousness; two stage revolution theory to the question around the strategy and tactics. I find this debate even more relevant in the current phase of our students’ politics.

Nevertheless, I will stir my focus on the aspects of strategy and tactics as more relevant in expanding my relevance of using Marxism-Leninism in the students’ politics. At the same time I will show the practical approach to political tactics as vindicated by Ruth First in the debate. Mafeje’s argument sound simple: any revolutionary practice requires a guiding theory, coherent political programme and a clear strategy. He anticipated students’students activists to have a perfect theory and plan of action. At the same time he dismissed the Black Consciousness as “diffuse nationalist ideology” that was “ideologically and analytically insufficient.”

Clearly engaging in this debate without dismissing a need for a theory to guide political action, Ruth First contended that it is not necessary to always have a tight and clearly outlined political action. In other words, there is no perfect revolution with predetermined destiny. Ruth First argued that “every revolution begins by asserting often fairly minimalist, immediate demand” and as the full confrontation with state power gradually expand to full-scale,” then the revolutionary theory will be need and that theory is Marxism Leninism.

However, at the same time students avoid what Ruth First called it “abstract theoreticist reservation” as advanced by armed chair revolutionary intellectuals like Archie Mafeje. Students must understand when Ruth First asserts that “revolutionary programmes have to be won not only in the head, but in the streets, towns, factories and countryside, and by engaging in the struggle, not abstaining from it because it does not start with perfected long-term program.” As Marxists contended must start by organising the working class and consciously give them Marxists theory to understand the society. As the biggest anti-global capitalism social movement in Chapias, Mexico the Zapatista with their slogan that “Walking we ask questions.”

Finally, Marxism it will forever be relevant in our students’ politics. Understanding that Marxism is the not a mimicry of the European theory it is important. Marxism is the revolutionary theory that can stand the test of time; however, some Marxists ideas need to transcended to fit-in our social formation. In case, our culture at period of history was used as a form of resistance, however, some Marxists ideas regards culture as the reflective institution of economic base the capitalism and it is there to maintain the capitalism status quo. At the same time it is important to use Marxism as an ideological diagnosis at the same time takes Marxism solutions.

As Lenin said “Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.”

Ashley Nyiko Mabasa


[1] This paper was presentated at Tshisimani Centre for Activists and Education.

[2] Student politics means the mechanism students use to be politically involved, and from time to time, in order to contribute to the expression of political discontent in their respective environments (Altbach, 1984: 636)

[3]Altbach, 1984

[4] Mean concrete capitalism mode of production.

[5]Masondo, David. Presentation at University of Johannesburg on the review of; Radical Critique of Apartheid, Harold Walpe biography book.

[6] Marx and Engels, 1848 “Manifesto of Communist Party”

[7] Fernbach David, 1973 “First International and After Karl Marx” (Citing Marx original draft of The Civil War in France)

[8] He was addressing the question of Relevance of Marxism in Africa.

[9] Those who refer Marxists ideas as Eurocentric.

[10] By methodology he refers to Marxism as independent of time and space. As we all know that one can use methodology as any time and given space.

[11] Walter Rodney, “Marxism in Africa.”

[12] Mafeje, 1988, page 97

[13]Connection of mode of production

[14]Mza Nxumalo “The relevance of Freedom Charter.”

South Africa’s energy policies will fail due to lack of coordination

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The ANC government must start taking its policies seriously and implement those policies for the service of the people. The common dictum is that South African government has good policies but the problem is the implementation of those policies.

Indeed, our government has some of the best policies in the world, which ideally seek to deal with poverty, unemployment and inequality. But our bureaucratic system in the government and our public servants render well-drafted policies useless.

The energy sector in South Africa is essential, because it is in the centre of South Africa’s economy. Particularly the mining industry focused on steel and coal. These are drivers of our country’s economy, characterised as the Mineral Energy Complex. Our economic structure is invested in this Mineral Energy Complex, which negatively affects both our environment and our economy.

Our government is perpetually signing energy deals and spin to public that they need to build more coal power stations due to an electricity shortage in the country. Whilst this coal-fired energy that is being built does not go to the society but goes to the energy-hungry mining industry, steel sector and petrochemicals plants.

The Department of Environment Affairs in 2004 drafted the National Climate Change Response Strategy White Paper (NCCRP) focused on adaptation to Climate Change. This policy advances for an eco-friendly economy but does not addresses the issues of Climate Change at hand.

It is troubling that the NCCRP recommends a green economy founded the minimisation of carbon emissions but simultaneously recognises the importance of coal-fuelled sectors as a hub of job creation and central to our economic growth. More importantly, NCCRP does not detail alternatives to coal which will either be renewable energy sources or fuels that do produce high carbon emissions.

In 2010 our government resolved to embark on the mixed energy system underpinned in their 2030 plan the so-called Integration Resource Plan (IRP). This plan came in consideration of degradation and violation of nature and proposes mitigation for Climate Change.

The IRP envisaged that by 2030 our country must have shifted from 85% use of coal-energy to transit to 65% with complements of Renewable Energy with 9%, 5% hydro-energy and 20% nuclear energy. However, the issue remains the approach toward the structural development of renewable energy. Our government approach is a capitalist market-based approach in which government outsources renewable energy to Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and then Eksom buys that energy from IPPs.

Post the NCCRP policy in 2004, our government proceeded to borrowing R39 billion (in US dollars) from the World Bank to expand coal-fired energy through construction of the Medupi coal-fired plant. The fourth largely coal generator which poses major climate threat.

Recently minister of Energy Jeff Radebe has signed IPP deal that cost around R55 billion to private companies. This further entrenched international division of labour, whereby global South countries remain consumers and global North producers for the Southern Countries. Consequently, IPPs are another form of creating global monopoly capital.

Then in 2011, the contradictory logic within government revealed itself. A group of elite and neo-liberalist policy makers led by President Cyril Ramaphosa drafted the National Development Plan (NDP) vision 2030. The NDP promised us the 2030 dream of alleviating poverty and creating employment as the IRP promised a transition from coal-intensive energy to a mix-energy to mitigate Climate Change.

Our government has proven that it does not have a well coordinated planning and bureaucratic system. Because NDP suggests that water, transport and energy infrastructure be improved in support of mining and mining-linked economic demand.  Clearly the drafters of NDP did not consider the IRP that argued that South Africa must enter the struggle of energy transition.

Even setting aside the plethora of corruption in government, our government still fails to reconcile its energy policies with economic growth. Due to lack of proper planning, monitoring and coordination of policies, each and every president and his cabinet will be doomed to adopt new and contradictory policies to their predecessors.

At least, the 1994 government had a ministerial office led by Jay Naidoo whose sole focus was the policy implementation of the Redistributive Development Programme. Why does our incumbent government not have policy watchdogs? It is clear in their incoherent policy drafting that no one is keeping tabs on the cohesiveness of the different policies and consistency of the policies with long-term development goals.

In the same breath, our government must start modernising its public service to make efficient policy implementation possible. And this will only come as a result of government having the committed public servants and well coordinated policies.

Climate Change is a reality; the IRP does not aggressively push the mitigation for Climate Justice because coal-energy will still be to be a dominant factor posts-2030. The NDP contradicts the IRP because of its wishes to enhance economic growth by extracting and burning coal.

Indeed, we have best policies in the world. But these policies will be buried if South Africans continue to not be concerned government implementation of these policies.

The communities and trade unions need to strongly organise to place pressure on government to give concessions on the Climate Justice because, at the end the day, consequences of Climate Change will mostly affect the poor. We are seeing these consequences now through phenomena such as droughts and flood. They will only worsen in our lifetime, threatening food security as well as human settlement and safety.

And in the process of reconciling energy and economic growth our government needs to modernise state mechanisms for proper policy planning, coordinating and accountability from municipal level to the national government.

Our country needs a progressive energy policy to protect the poor from the Climate Change. The IRP is an important policy that needs to be amended to be biased towards renewable energy. However, it is imperative that our government develops strong accountability mechanisms. So if the IRP in 2030 does not reach it goals the public servants and state executives are held accountable.

The people of South Africa must always mobilise to hold the state accountable because they are the largest shareholders of the state and they pay taxes for government to service them and serve their interests.

Ashley Nyiko Mabasa

YCLSA Shimi Matlala Wits Branch Secretary

Professor Michelle Williams Research Assistant on Energy and Democracy & Research Assistance at Mjaji Research and Development on Revitalization Local Economic and Informal Participation Formations with Gauteng Department of Economic Development.

Marxism-Leninism SASCO declared itself: Learning from Ruth First


Last year I visited my lecturer of Sociology Dr Prishani Naido. Her research is broadly focusing on social movements, she’s a former student leader and currently an activist. She taught me in my second year sociology of social theory and introduced the Ruth First collection and other activists who critique Eurocentric knowledge production such as Mignolo Walter and Trouillot. This might be appealing to friend and comrade Thabo Shingange.

I am not here to pose the rhetorical agility as some Marxists activists who carry caricature of Marxism “that Marxism is the solution for everything under the sun”. These Marxists are not considerate that Marxism tradition can be subjected to critique or complemented. They always attempt to defend Marxism theory, like idealists who forever defend remaining question from materialists; like “does God exist?” by defending the existence of God through citing the holy bible.

My favourite activist is Ruth First. Ruth First was an organic intellectual and truly committed activist in the struggle against apartheid—she also served as the National Secretary of the Young Communist League of South Africa (YCLSA). She serves as the great symbol of revolutionary leader for the communists members today.

Reflecting on #FeesMustFall there are a lot of lessons to be heeded there and lots of things must be corrected every time we sit and reflect. In my conversation with Prishani, she wakened my intellectual thinking about the student movement’s approaches. She contended that there is a dismissal of revolutionary theories and literature in the student movements. Because our student politics are contaminated by populists-demagogues, factionalism and elitist performers, shaped by aesthetics and characterized by violence whereby booing and heckling has become the order of the day.

In thinking about Ruth First, it is important to reflect on her leadership practices and the way she conducted herself within the limits of the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) the predecessor of the SACP. However, she was critical of the CPSA emancipatory vision framed in the two-stage theory at the time. She saw no logic and concluded that dual struggle presented by two-stage theory—national liberation and rout to socialism later was logically flawed.

I revived this argument because it will teach us an important lesson as time goes on. The popular dictum of Marxist theory, of the base and superstructure, had become the gospel tools that had added to the political gallery in the student movement. The base and superstructure debate, have led SASCO to radically rejecting the ruling class that are controlling universities. But they forget to reflect on their position of privilege in the superstructure which they obtained by gaining political capital through the ANC. SASCO leaders read Marxist-Leninist theory but betray it for their economic interests – getting paid by the ANC, receiving cars from the ANC and having their headquarters located in Luthuli House etc.

When one engages with SASCO comrades, the student movement declares itself as a Marxist-Leninist organization. Without ever considering the Marxism solutions when faced with contemporary problems. This student organisation captured the mass base membership in our country, but it appears to be failing to translate their view of Marxist-Leninist theory within the mass base we have seen this in the #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall. Thus, reflecting on my conversation with Dr Prishani, she pointed out that SASCO used to be revolutionary student organization without using Marxist-Leninism, let us consider the fact that it became revolutionary organization without proclaiming the ideological tool, it was revolutionary because, at the time, they never dismissed revolutionary theory or literature.

I have reached a logical conclusion that SASCO might have advanced to declare itself to be a Marxist-Leninist organization. Though, lets not try to convince ourselves that SASCO is a Marxist-Leninist organization. As Themba Masondo the former General Secretary of SASCO argued in 2010 and Floyd Shivambu the former NEC member also argued in 2006, that SASCO’s ideological inconsistency has prevented the organization from consolidating the radical left perspective on the transformation of the social order. Our student movement SASCO has fallen under the primacy of embracing the nationalists approaches adopted by the ANC, for example, the National Democratic Revolution, their SPOT document struggles to give a clear left perspective on the political economy of South Africa and eventually advocates for a mixed economy. Atleast they continue to sustain the center-left ANC political programme, the so-called Freedom Charter.

Reflecting on my conversation with Dr Prishani, she made me understand the subject of theory, subjectivity and ideological engagement. The theory provides answers for the existing questions and generates positions and questions about the world. For example, how did #FeesMustFall emerge? It arose at the centre of structuralism critique of our society and the rejection of the neo-liberalist system which seek to exist for the profit logic. It also revived the question of epistemology—knowledge production. This led to Thabo Shingage coming together with Walter Mignolo, attempting to fit-in SASCO in the revival of Pan-Africanism, Africanisation or decolonial debate in society.

Indeed, Ruth First acknowledged the importance of theory and it was not because her her political socialisation was biased to the YCL. Her articulation of theory for the struggle was not limited to the Communist Party or Marxist-Leninist premise. In her admiring piece to June 1976, AFTER SOWETO: A RESPONSE she extensively made an interesting argument, by first acknowledging the dismissal of theory by students uprising and she later pointed out that “every revolution begins by asserting often fairly minimalist, immediate demands and the full confrontation with state power gradually expands to a full-scale.” Put differently, to begin the struggle doesnt require theory or the dismissing of theory but the process of sustaining the struggle needs revolutionary theory. It can be a Marxism, Black radical thought, feminism or theology.

I have seen some of our comrades trying to forge Marxism into black radical thought theories. In this case, I started getting worried by these comrade’s mode of thinking. The reason being that, Marxism theory as, Thabo Shingage critiques, is universal theory that is failing to address some of our local social formations. My contention to this issue is that we do not have to forge the co-existence of Marxism with decolonial theories within SASCO. Marxism is the body of ideas embracing the unsustainability of capitalism, whilst black radical thought focuses on redressing and inquiring the colonial issues in academia and society without any aspiration to end the exploitative and alienation system of capitalism.

Prishani pointed out that through her academic journey she heeded a lesson from Latin Americans politics. She identified that Latin America’s social groups did not proclaim intellectual haughtiness and they do not reject alternative perspective. As Ruth First never rejected alternative perspective without proving what was flawed with that perspective. Hers is to assert that decolonial ideas need to engaged with – not rejected without subjecting them to deep theoretical discussion. In her engagement with Archie Mafeje about the 1976 students, when he was a University of Cape Town lecturer. Mafeje showed that 1976 was a failure struggle because students did not have a clear plan of action and strategic and tactics. But Ruth First gave a counter-intellectual response by saying that you do need to engage revolutionary theory to understand the struggle. I believe that the struggle and society questions arose from our subjective processes and sharpening of contradictions.

This is to confirm that revolutionary impulses are not innate characteristics of the students. This is to say that, revolutionary theories are not rooted within every student, but at the same time we do have to reject the theory as our tool to produce answers or generate questions for the status quo. For example, we need to be honest with ourselves, Marxism was imported from Moscow to South Africa. This it is seen through the 1960s and 1980s SACP left thinkers taking every resolution of the International Communist Party without questioning its universality in dealing with our social formation. Though some leaders like Moses Kotana, Nzala Nxumalo etc attempted to localise Marxists theory but one cannot confirm that it was a failure or sucess. Since today we continue to have an Unresolved National Question!!!! Forgetting that NDR and Freedom Charter had been there for racial dismantling and economic redresssing.

Last 2016 #FeesMustFall movement, students presented paradigm shift, moving away from #FreeQualityEducation to #FreeDecolonisedEducation. This paradigm shift was influenced theoretically by Africans Student Movement (PASMA) at University of the Witwatersrand. In conversation with Prishani, she pointed out that during their time of activism PASMA was not around the University of the Witwatersrand. The emergence of PASMA made a turning point for the #FeesMustFall because they insisted on locating their political subjectivity (the relationship they have with themselves throughout the struggle) and their ideological foundation (their guiding set of ideas) in the presence of SASCO with its Marxism-Leninism. It is clear that SASCO leadership struggle to locate Marxism-Leninism in the current debates about post-1994 and racial capital ownership. I have to acknowledge that SASCO proclaim to Marxist-Leninist organisation without being really Marxists or Leninist organisation in character. Knowing that ideology at some point intervenes in consciousness and subject formation—this results in the sharpening of contradictions.

Walter Rodney in his masterpiece book “How European Underdevelop Africa” he made quite an interesting argument that colonisation informed capitalism. Because in process of colonisation Europeans automatically transferred capitalism to Africa. Capitalism was transferred in the process of establishing local administration. Learning from Keletso Atkins “Kafir Time: Preindustrial Temporal Concepts and Labour Discipline In Nineteenth-Century Colonial Natal” she made an interesting argument that the British manipulated African culture to fit in the development of capitalism—this happened through the establishment of the missionary school. For example, Zulu society was made to understand time in European context. Here religion became a vehicle for disseminating culture. Without contradictory logic, this is also to show weakness of those calling for decolonial theories and divorcing Marxism theory that rejects capitalism.

Let’s pause and revisit Dr Ahmed and Prishani 2016 latter to “A letter to student militants” they made an interesting argument and reflection #FeesMustFall movement and suppressing of engagements they argued that:

“To be clear, there are tremendous challenges in facilitating discussions amongst thousands of students in an open space. And, while attempts were made in the direction of democratisation, both in the massive meetings in October 2015 and later in the smaller collective that met as #FeesMustFall in subsequent months, this process always remained uneven or with there being little will to ensure that everyone was allowed to speak.” They further made an intriguing argument by saying that “This was not only a problem amongst the leadership but within the student body too undemocratic practices of heckling and the shouting down of unpopular positions were present.”

The reality is that the movement was too undemocratic and this resulted in the emergence of #TakeBackWits. This was a small group of students who formed their movement to counter #FeesMustFall. However, this group of #TakeBackWits said to be agreeing with the #FeesMustFall but disagreeing with its strategy of shutting down University and disruption of classes. Our group #FeesMustFall failed to engage and counter charge this small group they refrained from the space of engagement and resort to heckling, playing a race card and booming them. This can best be attributed to the failure of students to engaging with revolutionary theories and the movement was stripped of ideology to guide the protest. Hence, I will never encourage SASCO to learn from the series of #FeesMustFall. Because undemocratic organisation with Marxism or decolonial theory is unless.

Finally, our dismissal of revolutionary theories has resulted in the outcome of stripping the movement of ideology—a collective set of ideas. At the same time attributing SASCO to be a Marxist-Leninist organisation by virtue of its resolution is just other form of rhetorical device wanting to sound radical but void of consolidating the radical left voice. However, we can learn from Ruth First at the same time: that every revolution begins by asserting often fairly minimalist, immediate demands and the full confrontation with state power gradually expands to a full-scale a full scale struggle – one that needs theory. But this will happen when we aallow the contestation of ideas—meaning that we will allow the convincing of one another other and reject intellectual superiority and heckling of other people’s opposing ideas to our ideas. People should stop debating a cross factional lines and debate ideas. I don’t reject decolonial theories, but I am a self-proclaimed Marxist who is receptive to other ideas as lRuth First was.

By Nyiko Ashley Mabasa, SASCO member and Wits YCL Secretary

My reaction to the State of the Nation address

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Famous of Karl Marx’s Theses on Feuerbach in 1845 said that, “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point however is to change it.” It is also the task of President Cyril Ramaphosa to change South Africa and make a better country by creating inclusive economy, the colour-blind economy. Listening to SONA, President Cyril Ramaphosa revived our hope and gave us reasonable expectation as we listen to his state of the nation address (SONA). Though in his address he would not address everything under the sun but those who listened attentively they will note that there are some of the things we can place in question, from the issue of re-industrialization, the youth employment and land redistribution.

The first thing which I was anticipating from our President Cyril’s address was the assurance of free education and stabilization of health system.  President Cyril touched on those critical issues, however, he did elaborate how the free education will be sustained and implemented except saying that the minister of finance will surely seek funds for free education and has already started catering for the poor and the working-class children with the collective income of R350 000 in the family.

Our President and the ANC must defend free education at the same time must avoid plunging our universities into a crisis of declining of quality like Brazil public Universities. Looking from the Brazil model of free education, whereby federal public universities are funded primarily by the poor and working-class majority through value-added taxes. As a consequent, this laid a burden to the poor and give a leeway to the rich acknowledging the high inequality of Brazil this also apply in South Africa with 0.7 Gin Co-efficiency of inequality.

In addition, the quality of our high education system is important for our country to grow the economy and fight against poverty and inequality. Therefore, our government must maintain the quality of South Africa’s universities and avoid the routes which was taken by Brazilians of establishing free education and overlooking of the quality of universities. In Brazil students that attend public universities often lack electricity, water, and toilet paper because the government is unable to pay its suppliers.

Our president also spoke of an expropriating of land without compensation. Knowing that South Africa experienced history of apartheid-colonialism. Black people have been derived from their land since 1913. Though it has been the weakness of our ANC in the post-apartheid South Africa not to address the issue of land distribution.

Moreover, our president emphasized the point that expropriation of land without compensation must be applied with the rationale of increasing the productivity and food security. Surely, our government must insure that our production of food and food security continues through empowering youth to embark on agricultural sector. But this must not deviate us from our expropriation of land with compensation because it is not fair that only 2% of white families own about 80% of the land.[1]  It is problematic that between 1994 and 2003, only 3% of the total agricultural land was returned noting that restitution, measured against the stated target of 30%.[2]  Though, our president did not speak of sustain our environment and mitigation steps towards making sure that of the environment remain protected from degradation.

It is important that we re-industrialized and localize our economic system as our president have said. Acknowledging that our country’s industrialization has been declining for example around 2005 there was approximately 200 000 people in the clothing textile industry and now we are down to about 19 000. As our textile manufacturing sectors have been shutting down as they can stand the competition with the huge import of China’s products which are sold cheaper in South Africa.  Our president did not elaborate how industrialization will take place except that will happen through manufacturing and localizing of our economy.

Furthermore, our president cited that the government has spent R50 billion in boosting local production. He further contended that industrialization and transformation must go hand in glove through Black Economic Empowerment. Though, the issue of Black economic empowerment has been about buying shares of white companies since 1994. Our government must establish the state bank which will facilitate government payments and must restructure BEE to be entreated to build the business from the ground instead of buying white businesses.

Our country to reindustrialize they must unbundle the economic system to the rural areas. Though president Ramaphosa did not speak of the plans to unbundle our economic system. For our country to reindustrialize the rate of growth of the electricity-intensive-goods-producing industries such as mines and steel firms must significantly increase. As Rob Jeffrey highlighted that if the growth of the electricity-intensive-goods-producing this will:

” Energy and electricity will never again be cheap, but for higher economic growth there has to be the security of supply of electricity at competitive prices. Unfortunately, economic growth models based on relatively low electricity growth forecasts become self-fulfilling prophecies.”[3]

Youth Unemployment appears is a clear ticking bomb since 1994. StatsSA early this year revealed that unemployment rate of 52.2% for youths aged between 15 and 24, and 35.5% for those between 25 and 34.[4]  In line with our President state of the nation address, he posited a clear plan for eradicating the youth unemployment. Our president spoke of initiating the summit whereby workers, trade unions, and businesses will strategically engage in how to create jobs for the youth of South Africa.  This will happen through Employment tax initiative to draw the youth in the workplace and through internships, apprenticeship, and mentorship programs. As well, it is strategic for our government to start involving our communities to deal with the unemployment problem.

Finally, our president speech was reviving and give hope that under his government radical economic transformation will happen. His determination to fight against corruption and his love for education, give a hope that he truly wants to build the inclusive economic growth and revive our economy.


By Ashley Mabasa

[1] Shivambu, Floyd 2014;” The coming Revolution.”

[2] Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, 2014: “ANC reclaims its central mission— land.”


[3] Rob Jeffrey is managing director and senior economist of Econometrix

[4] StatsSA, 2018 January