Debating a Workers’ Programme for Reconstruction
Less than three decades since the ANC came to power, South Africa has been convulsed by possibly the greatest upheaval in its history. Desperate poverty has driven tens of thousands in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng to looting, extensively and repeatedly. Trucks, factories and malls have been set alight, and ports and railways in KwaZulu-Natal brought to a halt. The police have stood by and watched.
The state is paralysed; it is rotten with gross corruption. All the state enterprises are in crisis, creating a demand for privatisation. There is mass joblessness, with 74.7% of youth unemployed, deepening inequality and a huge contrast between rich and poor. The dream of “a better life for all” promised by the ANC has proved even more fraudulent than in the advanced countries.
The capitalist-based post-apartheid political system has failed. A political vacuum now exists. The ANC is widely seen as incapable of taking South Africa forward; indeed, its internal strife has been regarded as the trigger to the mass looting. Yet there are also divisions among working people. Much of the labour movement is locked into an alliance with the decaying ANC.
How can the working class fill the vacuum? Can it initiate a programme of reconstruction to provide the millions of jobs that are needed, end poverty, and develop an economy based not on mining alone but on modern industry? How can the workers’ interests be effectively represented in municipalities, provinces and the national state?
A debate with key speakers including
S’bu Zikode, President of Abahlali baseMjondolo
Ronnie Kasrils, former Minister of Intelligence
and other contributors from the South African labour movement.