South Africa: New party ‘serious about revolution’

The April 4 launch of the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party.

“Equality, work and land” is the slogan of a new radical political party in South Africa that seeks to revolutionise South African politics and contest elections in May.

The Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party (SRWP) held its launch congress over April 4-6 in Johannesburg. More than 1000 party militants and cadre attended from provinces across the country, as well as international guests from countries such as Zambia, Argentina, Brazil, Sweden, Morocco and Nepal.

The Congress was dedicated to “Fieldmore” Mapeto Baldwin Langa, a member of NUMSA (the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa), who passed away in August last year. Fieldmore was a lifelong communist and internationalist. When he was just 17 years old he joined Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation) the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC), during the anti-Apartheid struggle. Fieldmore was forced into exile and on his return to South Africa in 1994 he became a key activist and intellectual in NUMSA and was central to the union’s political education program.

The party stated in its dedication: “With the revolutionary spirit of Fieldmore Mapeto alive in us all, today we commit ourselves to the long and winding road of class struggle as we launch the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party. We openly declare for all the world to know that we as Socialists are committed to building the organisation of a revolutionary working class. A class aware of its own interests. A class that will overthrow the capitalist parasites. A working class that will seize power for the project of building Socialism, in which no human will be exploited by another.”

Over three days delegates heard from members of the party’s Interim Working Committee, including SRWP convenor, Irvin Jim. Jim remarked on the path that brought them to where they are and why the SRWP’s creation today in South Africa is so essential.

Delegates were reminded that in 2012, sparked by the atrocities of the Marikana Massacre, NUMSA began to chart a new course in South African politics. NUMSA left the ANC-led Alliance (which comprises the African National Congress, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party) and embarked on a process to form an independent trade union federation and a workers’ party.

In 2017, the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) was officially launched with more than 700,000 members and in April 2018 held one of the largest national strikes in South Africa’s recent history, demanding just labor laws and an increase to the national minimum wage.

The goal of creating a workers’ party was also fulfilled last year. The party was officially registered with the Electoral Commission of South Africa in September and held its first national meeting of the newly formed SRWP was held in Johannesburg in December.

Delegates split up into commissions, including education, health, housing and work at the congress, to develop the SRWP’s political platform and founding party documents.

The SRWP adopted a political platform and constitution, debated on and defined a manifesto and elected party authorities.

It plans to contest the upcoming elections and is certain that the South African working class is ready for a party that promises to upturn the current capitalist system that has made so many South Africans suffer.

NUMSA President Andrew Chirwa told the congress: “This is not a party for reform. This is a party for communists. We are serious about the revolution. We are a party for Socialism and nothing else”.

[Abridged from Peoples Dispatch.]