South African Communists condemn ANC inaction amid student protests

Peter Stoddart, YCL Student Officer

On Wednesday (10 March 2021), the Young Communist League of South Africa (YCLSA) released a statement following the death of a civilian during student protests near the University of the Witwatersrand.

Protests have been raging in South Africa since the turn of the year, when the ANC government introduced new measures stopping students laden with debt from enrolling for university.

University fees remain a symbol of persistent inequality in South Africa despite the obvious progress that has been made since the fall of Apartheid.

In the YCLSA statement, they said “The African National Congress (ANC) has become a reactionary force located on the other side of the fence against the working class in terms of the class divisions in our society. The ANC must take full responsibility for the decisions of the reactionary liberal government, specifically the National Treasury.”

They went on,  “The current state of the African National Congress is extremely obnoxious and obscene.“… “The extent that the ANC government can disregard ANC resolutions and unleash brutality on peaceful students shows that the state is being used as an instrument of class rule against the working class to satisfy a reaction class agenda in opposition to the shared ideals of our National Democratic Revolution.”

This statement, condemning, not only the actions of the ANC in dealing with the student protests, but in general, describing the national party of government, as “reactionary“, “obnoxious” & as an “instrument of class rule against the working class“, all highlight the anger felt by our comrades in the YCLSA.

We further call on Mboweni to shape up or ship out. Mboweni should deliver our message to his class associates that our democracy is not for sale and neither are we afraid to remove him as a result of his persistence on driving the mandate of his class associates.” 

Tito Mboweni is the current Minister of Finance serving in Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet. Mboweni served as Minister of Labour from May 1994 to July 1998 in South African President Nelson Mandela’s cabinet. However, in 2010 he was appointed as an international advisor to Goldman Sachs.

The YCLSA statement, released Wednesday, marks yet another shift in an increasingly fractious relationship between the primary left forces in South Africa. The Tripartite Alliance has acted as the bedrock of the National Government since the fall of Apartheid, but the divisions appear more and more each day. Particularly for the youth who have been increasingly disillusioned with the actions of the ANC in Government.

Echoing the YCL, the SACP today called for a national enquiry into the civilian death, and said:

The macroeconomic framework followed by the government has failed to overcome the crisis.

In the second quarter of 2020 over two million workers were retrenched in our economy. The jobs bloodbath did not end there. It continued, reducing the size of the employed workforce, and keeping total unemployment at an economic crisis-high level.”

Poverty remains entrenched. Meanwhile, millions of employed workers face merciless exploitation. As the working poor, they are struggling to support themselves and their dependents because they are paid poverty wages.

In the public sector, the National Treasury has intransigently ensured that there are no wage increases for public servants. In the private sector, various sections of workers were compelled to take wage cuts.”

The Tripartite Alliance have dominated progressive politics in South Africa for nearly three decades now. Yet the statements from YCLSA and the SACP highlight the divisions that have been appearing over the years. Where the Alliance goes from here remains unclear, as the Youth look increasingly unlikely to tow the line that has seen inequality persist for decades despite the so-called National Democratic Revolution.

Peter Stoddart

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