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(en) anarkismo.net: Tokologo #5/6 - No Illusions: 2016 Elections no Solution for the Masses by Warren McGregor - TAAC, ZACF
Fri, 5 Feb 2016 10:02:12 +0200
Many in the working class hope the 2016 local government elections will prove a turning
point. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) won the 2014 elections easily, but its
grip is weakening. The ANC-allied Congress of SA Trade Unions (COSATU) has split, the
radical metal union NUMSA expelled. The ANC could even lose control of at least one of
giant "metro" municipality in 2016, possibly greater Johannesburg or Nelson Mandela Bay -
probably to the moderate Democratic Alliance (DA), not the ANC breakaway, Economic Freedom
Fighters (EFF). ---- THE VOTE WON'T FREE YOU ---- We anarchists and anarchist sympathisers
in the TAAC (and ZACF) have stated consistently our opposition to elections to state
power. State institutions of political power are the graveyard of the struggles of the
working class and poor. Elected representatives, no matter what party, are quickly
co-opted into these wealthy halls of ruling class power, no matter their origins. There
they wheel-and- deal with others in the ruling class, including full-time (and unelected)
senior state managers, like the directors and generals, and the capitalists who spend time
and money lobbying, bribing and striking business deals with the politicians.
All state policies are in in the interests of furthering exploitation and profit-making.
The only exception is where mass power forces politicians and bosses to make changes - out
of fear. The massive student struggles of 2015 forced a fee freeze in all universities, as
well as an end to outsourcing (privatisation) in some - achieving more in 2 weeks than EFF
actions in parliament did in 2 years. Struggle is how you win change, not dropping paper
into a box every few years.
THE PARTIES ARE RUN BY ELITES
The ANC rules, again, over a "better life" for the ruling class, the capitalists and state
managers, with massive economic problems, unemployment and poverty for the rest of us. Its
much-praised welfare system papers over the cracks, but does not come close to ending
poverty and suffering with its tiny grants, and lack of assistance to the unemployed
millions. Corruption by both politicians and capitalists, disastrous management by party
"cadres" in SABC, ESKOM and other state enterprises, and neo- liberal policies are the
sign of the dark times. New Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene has repeatedly promoted
austerity in his budgets and speeches. The ANC has meanwhile centralised executive power
in the Presidency and Treasury, making parliament even more useless than normal.
But the problem is not just the ANC, let alone ANC leader President Jacob Zuma - as rival
parties like to pretend. The state, by its very nature, ensures the exploitation and
domination of the working class and poor, and it corrupts and co-opts all who sit at its head.
THE EFF IS NO DIFFERENT
The EFF has proved no exception. EFF leaders signed a public pledge (the "Sankara Oath")
stating they and their families would use state facilities like schools and hospitals,
consult the masses and build an honest state.
Within hours of taking office, EFF MPs broke this promise, and also added that they would
be making full use of generous parliamentary salaries and perks, like free flights. As for
honesty, Malema's expensive lawyers have spent the last few years helping him dodge jail
time for corruption, racketeering and tax fraud, arising from extensive involvement in
corrupt privatisation contracts.
And consultation? The EFF is top- down in character, held together by the expelled
leadership of the ANC Youth League, notably Malema and Floyd Shivambu.
3 EFF MPs were expelled in 2015 after providing evidence Malema used EFF funds for
personal expenses. The 2014 EFF national conference post- elections was also used to purge
critics, and other heavy-handed interventions into branches and regions also helped centre
power in the Malema group.
The EFF sees the gap in the voting market as African youth stuck in impoverished
townships, as well as struggling workers battling vicious bosses. Like the ANC itself, the
EFF knows the value of staying in the public eye, of grand promises, of a rhetoric
continually referencing "revolutionary" slogans, yet devoid of any revolutionary action,
of politics built around the uncritical support for charismatic leaders, and of using
party funds to build a network of patronage to centralise power.
THE POLITICS OF PUBLICITY STUNTS
The obsession of historically white-owned media with Malema, as "black bogeyman," provides
free publicity. To access state office and benefits, it needs their votes; this is the aim
of events like the "pay-back-the-money" shouting campaign in parliament. (Even so, EFF
still secured only 6% of the vote in 2014 - more youth stayed away from voting than voted
Fundamentally, EFF is built on spectacular publicity stunts arranged from above, empty
promises (like the 2015 land occupation campaign that was quietly cancelled),
multi-million dollar rallies with free t-shirts, and so-called "socialist" catch-phrases
to win poor black people's votes e.g. "nationalisation," "economic emancipation," "land
reform." Its ideology is shifting, but has strong flavours of exclusivist Africanist
(anti-minority) nationalism and Marxist-Leninist rhetoric, to brand it as radical and take
the space the ANC seems to have vacated.
REAL CHANGE COMES FROM US
This type of politics is no basis for revolutionary transformation. It keeps the system
where the masses are spectators, not players, where freedom is seen as something brought
from on high, by great leaders, where change comes through parties and elections - not
from the people, themselves. And its nationalism, hiding class divisions, including
between the (wealthy) ANC and EFF leaderships and their (poor) mass voting base, further
confuses the issues.
The 2016 elections will simply repeat the politics of spectacles, of the circus of
politics, based on the 3 main parties. Nothing will be achieved, hopes will be dashed, and
at most some faces in the ruling class will change.
THE STATE IS YOUR ENEMY
We in the TAAC again declare that the state is in no way the avenue for working class
struggle. It is a site of ruling class power - and no matter the colour of your beret,
whether black (ANC), blue (DA) or red (EFF), you and your party cannot change this
essential characteristic of state power - it will change your party.
By voting you give your right to create social change to a party, a bunch of people you
don't know, to do as they wish. Real working class power lives in our organisations -
trade unions and grassroots social movements, organised democratically - and in our spaces
- the streets, the neighbourhoods, the shop-floor, the meetings. Here we must do the hard
work of building a working class counterculture for revolutionary transformation, and
through daily struggle, build counter-power against the ruling class and their
institutions, the state and corporations, to create the change we want.
We continue the call:
DON'T VOTE! ORGANISE COUNTER- POWER!
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