The South African Federation of Trade Unions has noted with grave concern the ANC’s diagnosis report about “Western interference in politics in South Africa and regime change”.
The document referred to “the increasingly widespread Western practice of overthrowing legitimate political authority by provoking internal instability and conflict against governments that are considered inconvenient and insubordinate to their interests, and replacing them with blind-puppet regimes that pander to their interests.That is a reality in South Africa. It’s a reality in the world.”
The document targets are the poor communities protesting against abject level of service delivery, the mineworkers who lost their lives at Marikana while fighting for a living wage and the civil society organizations such as #feesmustfall, Corruption Watch, #outsourcingmustfall, Equal Education and many others.
Without a shred of evidence or any specific examples, the document is implying that all those who are protesting and fighting for the implementation of the ANC’s own policies for ‘radical economic transformation’ or against corruption are just puppets of imaginary external forces who are using them to create “instability and conflict” against the government.
This so-called ‘diagnosis’, which is not a diagnosis but a shameful return to paranoia and witch-hunts seeks to delegitimize genuine grievances and struggles of the mass of the people. South Africa is the capital of the world when it comes to service delivery protests. Poor communities on a daily basis engage in protests about poor service provided by the mostly ANC councils. The document seeks to present these protests as an example of the typical work of imperialism.
This is rubbish! The document seeks to shift the blame for the ANC government’s failure to solve the crisis of unemployment and inequality on to those who are the main victims of this failure.
What is most dangerous about this paranoia is that the document is preparing the ground for a move to crack down on all these protests on the spurious ground that they represent a threat to the “legitimate” government from external sources. This threatens to lead to and justify an attack on social movements and their constitutional rights to free speech and legitimate protest.
This paranoid politics is practically manifesting itself in the rogue activities of the forces of the state, especially in intelligence and security structures, who are acting on the hysteria about regime change to undermine bona fide civil liberties and the actions of legitimate constitutionally protected organizations like ours! Already many civil society formation activists have observed increased state interference in their legitimate activities including through monitoring their meetings and intercepting their communications.
This document instead of analysing why 20 million voters stayed away from the polls in the 2016 local government elections and before, is crudely trying to promote unity within the deeply divided ANC by whipping up emotions about imaginary threats from hostile external ‘Western’ powers, who are manipulating ‘puppets’ to destabilize the ‘legitimate’ government
The document’s remarks are similar to those in the ANC faction and their cronies who have been corruptly looting the country’s resources. They too blame ‘white monopoly capital’ for the broad-based campaign by the vast majority of South Africans to bring them to justice and put an end to this kleptocracy. They also try to imply that ‘external forces’ rather than popular anger lie behind these calls.
These comments pose another serious problem for socialists like SAFTU members; they distort and discredit genuine arguments about ‘regime change’ and ‘legitimacy’. Regime change can be either revolutionary or counter-revolutionary. Western regimes, especially the USA, have indeed funded and even imposed, right-wing regimes in independent countries around the world, and the ANC has rightly opposed these counter-revolutionary coups.
On the other hand anti-imperialist movements in colonial countries were revolutionary examples of ‘regime change’, including the ANC’s own struggle against colonialism and apartheid, against which the racist regime used exactly the same kind of demagogy as the diagnosis report is using today – that the ANC was a puppet of foreign, communist powers.
It is outrageous that today’s ANC leaders are discrediting revolutionary, socialist arguments against ‘white monopoly capital’ and for genuine ‘radical economic transformation’ by turning them into empty demagogy to defend a counter-revolutionary and corrupt government and ruling class and to threaten those who oppose them.
SAFTU is determined to defend these genuine revolutionary ideas and mobilize a mass campaign of workers and the poor majority of South African, who are not puppets of any external forces but angry and frustrated people who are being exploited and robbed by both white monopoly capitalists and corrupt crony black capitalists and are desperate to bring about real, socialist economic transformation.
We seek to unite with the unemployed, the Fees Must Fall, the Outsourcing Must Fall, the formations organising informal sector workers, the landless peasants, the poor involved in service delivery protests into a single campaign towards mass mobilization to challenge the current status quo as we move towards a peoples assembly in December 2017 in search of a genuine solutions to our plight as the people.