Monday, December 17, 2007

Revolt in the ANC

Following on from the massive strikes in South Africa earlier this year and last week's miners' strike, the ANC is rocked by a political struggle which looks like it will result in the neoliberal wing of the party being defeated by the left. I feel like raising it, and putting it that way, because from news stories like this, you wouldn't have a clue what was going on. You would not, for example, gather that Jacob Zuma is leading the left-wing in the ANC and that Thabo Mbeki's embattled position has something to do with his reactionary pro-business policies. Hardening criticism from COSATU and the South African Communist Party membership has compounded a growing dissatisfaction in the Congress. Zuma is far from the ideal man to lead such a fight, burdened as he is with corruption charges over bribes from a French arms company, and he is actually doing his best to present his policies as pro-business. He is in all probability an opportunist who has harnessed a unique chance based on the unrest. However, the fact that he has successfully channelled the energy of this revolt into a leadership bid which may lead to him taking power in the ANC (but not the country) is itself significant. And however disappointing Zuma is likely to be (Chavez, he ain't - even Chavez isn't always Chavez), the very fact of ousting the wretched Mbeki may give further confidence to the already insurgent working class.