The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) rejoice that Lula da Silva has, against all odds, emerged victorious in Brazil’s presidential election. Lula, who comes from the workers party of Brazil, has defeated a far right-winger, Jair Bolsonaro.

One of the manoeuvres of the Brazilian ruling class, particularly big business and imperial capital, was to jail Lula da Silva on the eve of the 2018 elections. Such a move secured Bolsonaro a clean sweep, making him the president of Brazil.

Since Bolsonaro took over in 2019, the socio-political reality of Brazil changed for the worst, with his reign representing attacks on human rights, the indigenous communities and the environment, and the rise in racism and sexism.

Lula’s victory gives meaning to the expression: “rise from the ashes”. Hero-worshippers, may, stunned by his re-emergence, attribute this to his own volition, genius, and popularity. Though the love for him by the greater sections of the Brazilian population is unquestionable, this does not help to correctly contextualise his “rise from the ashes”.

The rise from the ashes of Lula da Silva is a by-product of the socio-political convulsions that have marred the country since the liberal capitalists took over in 2011, and more so, since the mad Bolsonaro took over in 2019.

His misogyny had been quite pronounced even before he ran for elections. In 2019, he said he will integrate the indigenous communities into the society, implying that they are not members of society unless integrated into western modernism. He made these and other racist utterances as part of his relentless campaign to chuck them out of the forests to make way for corporate plunder. Indeed, the level of deforestation, which led to an international outcry by those who considered Amazon as the lungs of the earth, was unprecedented, with wildfires which are suspected to have been sparked by his lieutenants.

He presided over a government that unleashed austerity, including the administration before him. In 2020, his minister for economic ministry revealed publicly that Bolsonaro is committed to austerity, which widened the economic and social inequalities. Brazil and South Africa, have for some time, been competing for the number one spot as the most unequal nations on earth, and this is mainly because of austerity. It is this fiscal austerity, including his madness and indifference to the plight of the working majority, that led to his mismanagement of the Covid-19, resulting in the death of more than 600 000 Brazilian people.

It is these economic inequalities, the political and social crisis, that have sparked convulsions that created a new Lula moment – a moment that has taken Lula out of prison straight to the highest political office in Brazil. The working class have in search of political, social, economic and environmental solutions, elected Lula. He is the hope for a better life for all, away from the reactionary bigotry, ecocide and neoliberalism of Bolsonaro.

Our jubilation does not come uncritically though. Lula’s victory comes from the working class majority, and from sections of the middle and ruling classes. Therefore, his ability to enact radical pro-poor anti austerity policies may be hindered by such sections.

However, we encourage him to ignore such sections that will encourage him to retain neoliberal capitalism, because it is not their votes that have secured him a victory. The base that has catapulted him into power on the hope that his regime will bring back massive transformation and social protection is the working-class majority and the indigenous communities. It is this class on whose behalf he must rule and enact policies and legislation in favour of.

He must scrap neoliberal austerity, reintroduce social security measures on a wider scale and embrace public ownership to close the inequalities and bring back public goods which have been turned into commodities for commercial consumption, barring majority of poor people from accessing them.

Lula’s victory brings hope for the rest of the global left, especially for the working class in the neocolonial world who are faced with double attacks: from their struggling parasitic bourgeoisie and the powerful sabotaging imperial capital.

The South African left must draw inspiration that, even electorally, the ruling class can be defeated. We must intensify our efforts to build a left front through the working-class summit, the end result of which must be a mass party of the working class to not only resist against austerity and other attacks by the ruling class, but to contest power like Lula.

If the working class underwrites this government, Lula would and should be emboldened to transition from the reforms we are calling for, to socialism. It is only socialism that can guarantee the Brazilian people of a better life for all, free of bigotry and with an all-encompassing development that centres human beings and not production of commodities (GDP).

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