SOUTH Africa has erupted with the announcement yesterday that the ANC government plans to deploy 25,000 troops after days of violent uprising by workers and youth that has torn the country apart.
What on the surface appeared to start as a confrontation between two opposing factions of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) has become an uprising by South African workers and poor.
Superficially the cause of the violence that has spread throughout the country was the jailing of former president and leader of the ruling ANC Jacob Zuma.
Zuma was president of South Africa from 2009 to 2018 when the ANC forced him to resign over allegations of corruption.
Zuma was handed a 15-month prison sentence for contempt of court after he refused to appear before a state commission into these allegations.
Immediately, Zuma and his supporters declared that the allegations and jailing were a politically motivated campaign led by the present ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa.
The protests from Zuma supporters, largely in his home province of KwaZula-Natal, spread like wildfire throughout the country as discontent erupted over the enormous poverty and starvation that has devastated the working class and rural communities, while creating millionaires in the leadership of the ANC.
That Zuma was able to muster the support of a section of the working class despite his administration being mired in corruption is down to the fact that in the final stage of his presidency Zuma began to portray himself as a friend of the poor whose aspirations to alleviate the unemployment and poverty were being frustrated by ANC leaders whose allegiance was entirely to the interests of international capitalism.
In his rival, Ramaphosa, he had an easy target for these accusations.
Ramaphosa, like Zuma, started as a freedom fighter against apartheid, going on to become president of the National Union of Mineworkers.
He then went on to become a millionaire businessman owning shares in the Lonmin mining company.
It was Ramaphosa who as a member of the government in 2012 gave encouragement to police to shoot down and kill 34 striking mineworkers at the Lonmin plant.
Replacing Zuma with Ramaphosa was seen as a victory for the bosses and international capital in their drive to ruthlessly exploit the black working class.
South Africa was already in recession before the coronavirus pandemic hit and the country’s trade unions forced a reluctant Ramaphosa to impose a strict lockdown.
Since then the economy has been shattered, with unemployment hitting a record 32.6% of the population.
Two thirds of young people are unemployed and three in five live in absolute poverty with absolutely no assistance from the government.
No support for the working class will be forthcoming from an ANC government that borrowed £3.4 billion from the International Monetary Fund last year under the condition that it impose strict austerity cuts on all public services and workers’ wages.
Despite all the stirring calls in 1994 that the liberation struggle meant people taking power, in reality it was never the policy of the ANC, nor any of the factions within it.
They never challenged the right of capitalism to mercilessly exploit the working class in the pursuit of profit.
With the country crashing into complete bankruptcy and the IMF demanding the working class pay for its debt the ANC is sitting on a powder keg and the clash over the rivalries between factions of the bourgeoisie is exploding on the streets in a struggle that poses the working class taking power.
The way forward for South African workers is to demand that the powerful trade unions call an immediate general strike to kick out the ANC government and for the working class to go forward to a workers’ government and socialism.
The issue immediately confronting the working class in South Africa is the building of a section of the Fourth International to lead the fight for socialist revolution that will inspire the working class of Africa to take the revolutionary road and rise up to overthrow bankrupt capitalism and establish a United Socialist States of Africa.