Conditions that led to South Africa massacre

The following excerpts from the pamphlet “SOUTH AFRICA – Which road to liberation?” were written by Monica Moorehead, now a Workers World Party Secretariat member, in December 1993 after she attended the first unbanned African National Congress conference, held in Durban, South Africa, in July 1991. The pamphlet provides a brief Marxist view of a particular stage of the ongoing South African struggle, up until the end of legalized apartheid and on the eve of the first democratic election in that country, held in 1994. The tragic massacre of 34 Black South African miners earlier this month makes it painfully clear that the South African revolution cannot be completed until the masses, led by the Black working class, liberate themselves from the shackles of capitalist exploitation.

A lot of attention is being paid to the African National Congress leadership’s agreement to promote full-scale foreign capital investment in a post-apartheid South Africa. Nelson Mandela was interviewed on this issue in the July 12, 1993, edition of Fortune, a magazine published in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mandela indicated that transnational corporations — as well as investors from Western Europe and elsewhere — would be welcomed in South Africa. The main motivation? The Black working class suffers from a 48 percent unemployment rate and “we are therefore very keen for foreign companies to invest in such a way that there will be a creation of jobs for our people, a generation of wealth,” said Mandela. He went on: “All foreign companies that invest would be guaranteed against expropriation and nationalization. They will be able to recover their profits and dividends — all of them. We are guaranteeing every foreign company that invests in our country.” The ANC leader is seeking material aid from the capitalist West in light of the first general elections, tentatively set for April 27, 1994.

It should come as no great surprise that the ANC would move in this direction. Like every national liberation movement throughout the world following the collapse of the socialist camp — especially the fall of the Soviet Union — the ANC has lost most of the material support it had received from progressive governments. The main exception, of course, is Cuba. And while Cuba can provide political and moral support, it is certainly not in a position to provide the kind of material aid the ANC used to receive from the Soviet Union and others.

Mandela and other ANC leaders are hoping for the breakup of the handful of corporate monopolies in South Africa that dominate close to 90 percent of the apartheid economy and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Some of these conglomerates include Anglo-American, South Africa Mutual, Sanlam and the Rembrandt Group. The ANC is hoping that with the breakup of these giants, individual Black-owned businesses will have a chance of prospering and putting life into the dismal capitalist economy. The fact is that even if the monopolies are broken up organizationally, capitalist property relations will remain intact, regardless, benefiting the white minority.

The Sept. 28, 1993, New York Times reported that the number of U.S. businesses directly investing in the South African economy has jumped from 120 to 135 since the economic sanctions were recently repealed. These figures do not include those corporations that are not U.S. based.

The ANC is very much encouraging similar joint ventures along with other forms of capitalist investments to help “repair” any ailing post-apartheid economy. In Marxist terminology, the ANC is attempting to launch a bourgeois democratic revolution in South Africa.

What will be the most decisive factor during the course of the South African struggle? A raging class struggle in the form of the impatient South African masses — especially the workers, who do not want to replace one oppressor for another but to seize the reins of state economic and political power away from their racist oppressors. The setbacks in the socialist camp may have helped to temporarily weaken the completion of the South African revolution. But it is just a question of time before the South African masses carry out their historical mission as laid out in the Communist Manifesto: “becoming the gravediggers of the bourgeoisie.”

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