Dale T. McKinley

The African National Congress (ANC), which led the struggle against Apartheid, has become the key political vehicle, both in party and state form, of corporate capital.

This applies to all capital — domestic and international, black and white, local and national, and includes a range of different “fractions” of capital.

Over the past two decades, it has been the fight on and over this terrain — with some for, some against, some in the middle — that has defined the ANC’s journey since the end of Apartheid in 1994.

It is arguably the most important political development of South Africa’s post-1994 era. In the early hours of November 8, South Africa’s largest union, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), was expelled from South Africa’s largest union federation, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).

The political significance of NUMSA’s expulsion derives from three key, interrelated areas of impact.

ANC-led alliance

No sooner had the final results of South Africa's May 7 national elections been announced than President Jacob Zuma gave a predictably self-congratulatory speech lauding the result as “the will of all the people”.

The reality however is that the incumbent African National Congress’ (ANC) victory came from a distinct minority of “the people”. The real “winner”, as has been the case since the 2004 poll, was the stay-away “vote”.

Even if the meanings we give to dates are most often overblown, there is something about the mark of a new decade.

At some point in the not-too-distant future, we might just look back at 2008 as the year in which things really started to fall apart for the African National Congress (ANC).

While the violent intensity and geographical spread of the recent attacks on immigrants across South Africa certainly surprised most of us, we should not have been surprised that such attacks happened — or at the state’s response.

The one thing that President Thabo Mbeki has to be given credit for is his consistency. Ever since he ascended to South Africa’s political throne, the would-be king has stuck doggedly to the fundamentals of a macro-neoliberalism that has underpinned this country’s developmental path for the last decade and more. It is a consistency that has, not surprisingly, greatly benefited the elite few and cost the majority dearly.

The June 27-30 African National Congress (ANC) Policy Conference and the South African Communist Party’s 12th Congress, held in July, confirmed what many political observers in South Africa have known for a long time: that the politics and practical work of the SACP and Congress of South African Trade Unions have become umbilically tied to the intensifying personal and positional power struggles inside the ANC-led Tripartite Alliance. The result is the paralysis of the SACP and COSATU’s ability to organise and mobilise on a genuinely practical, working class/poor-centred basis.

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