National Sections of the L5I:

Permanent Revolution and South Africa

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MRCI theses on South Africa
First published in Permanent Revolution, Issue 3, Spring 1986

1. South Africa began the 20th century as a colony of British imperialism. To-day it exists as a minor imperialist power in its own right. Not only was British imperialism forced to concede to this development due to its own weakness after two world wars, but it co-operated in the transference of capital ownership and the provision of investment to allow this development to take place. In return, South Africa promotes the regional interests of Anglo-American imperialism as well as extending its own interests.

The position of South Africa as the producer of major strategically important mineral wealth and the retention of huge investments, means that British and American imperialisms are determined to retain South Africa as a junior partner in an imperialist alliance dominating Southern Africa.

2. The Apartheid State combines imperialist democracy for the immensely privileged white minority with a brutal dictatorship over the black majority. Systematic racism was the only 'justification’ possible for keeping the black masses as 'colonial slaves' of the whites. Military and police repression are the only means of maintaining it. The Apartheid system grew naturally out of the conditions of a racist settler state seeking to deny self-determination, independence or indeed even the most basic political and civil rights to the blacks. That racist state owed its historic development to the need of British imperialist mining capital for the supply and maximum exploitation of black labour. As a result, the blacks were denied any ownership of land and cattle. In order to develop the process of proletarianisation, black farmers were deprived of their traditional forms of proprietorship and forced to work as wage slaves.

While we recognise that the black masses suffer political oppression akin to that of colonial domination, we reject the 'internal colonialisation' theses as argued by African nationalists and the South African Communist Party. We do so in particular for two reasons: (a) it contains the false argument that South Africa consists of 'separate nations' (i.e. a 'black' and a 'white' nation). This concedes to the Afrikaner and English-speaking whites the idea that separate nationhood (i.e. partition of the South African state) could be advanced as a political solution to the present crisis.

(b) it falsely ties the ending of the blacks' colonial status to a separate, democratic stage in the revolutionary process.

3. The nature of the Apartheid State, as a qualitative development of the racist colonial state can only be understood as the outcome of a reactionary alliance between the Afrikaner working class, petty bourgeois and farmers to: (a) restructure the relationship between South African capitalism and British imperialism in a way which both extended the economic and political power of the Afrikaner and preserved the reduced interests of foreign imperialism; (b) guarantee the existence and extension of labour aristocratic privileges (wages, conditions of employment, job reservation) of the small Afrikaner working class which felt itself threatened by the mass of unskilled African labour below and the skilled white immigrant labour from above; (c) restrict the freedom of movement and urbanisation of black labour to provide cheap abundant agricultural labour; (d) encourage the emergence of an independent Afrikaner bourgeoisie.

The success of that alliance resulted in the consolidation of the apartheid state after the Second World War which further systematised racial discrimination, job segregation and land division, entrenching the alliance between South African capital and the white working class.

4. South African monopoly capitalism finally attained the status of an independent imperialist power in the 1960s. To-day, the economy is highly monopolised; Anglo-American, a predominantly South African owned multi-national, towers above all else. The ownership of capital is overwhelmingly in the hands of English and Afrikaner South Africans.

From the beginning of its imperialist development, South Africa has been an exporter of capital. However, because the greatest source of super-profits was to be found INTERNALLY, within the mines and industry of South Africa, this remained relatively undeveloped even though it was still responsible for opening up Namibia to imperialist exploitation. Only in the late 1970s, with the evident stagnation of monopoly capitalism in South Africa, did the rate of increase in the export of capital accelerate.

5. Historically, South Africa has been a major source of strategically important raw materials and a prime source of super-profits. Peak profitability has occurred after World War 2, in the 1960s and 1970s, and this period witnessed the gradual eclipse of British imperialism's role as chief foreign investor by American imperialism. Britain, however, retains a greater political leverage due to its historical and current political ties inside South Africa. Coincidental with the late 1970s and 1980s crisis of South African monopoly capitalism, the rate of increases of new British and US investment in South Africa has declined, due to falling profitability.

Britain and the US fear above all the destruction of Apartheid from below by a revolution of the black masses which would threaten their investments. They do, however, seek to pressure the Afrikaner alliance to reform Apartheid so as to co-opt into the South African ruling class a black component, i.e. to do a deal with the black nationalists, giving them a subordinate share in political power, the better to head off and, where necessary, repress, the struggles of the black workers and the urban poor. The problem for them is how to pressure the South African state to grant 'concessions' in such a way as not to break up its repressive apparatus.

6. Apartheid made possible the most ruthless exploitation of the black working class. The crisis of South African monopoly capitalism in the 1970s and growing black militancy forced the monopolists to reconsider the labour aristocratic privileges of the white Afrikaner working class.

The restructuring of Apartheid in the 1970s (removal of certain features of 'petty Apartheid', erosion of the job bar, reforms of residential rights) was an attempt to deal with the crisis of South African capitalism by lowering costs and raising labour productivity.

Government inquiries, such as the Wiehahn Report, aimed to address the cramping effects of Apartheid policies on capitalist accumulation insofar as they restricted the movement of black labour to urban industry, prevented a necessary minimal level of black literacy and technical education and created artificial shortages of skilled labour. Whilst there was an unevenness in the response of different sections of South African capitalists, some restructuring was in their general interest.

7. The restructuring of Apartheid presupposed above all its continuation in the decisive sphere of political rights. The Constitutional initiatives of the early 1980s have re-affirmed the opposition of Afrikaner nationalism to political power for the African masses. Instead, through the 1983 Constitution, they have endeavoured, unsuccessfully, to:

(a) divide the Asian and Coloured communities from the African masses;

(b) strengthen the executive and military powers of the President to equip the state with the repressive power necessary to crush black resistance;

(c) indicate to the class collaborationist black petty bourgeoisie and tribal leaders that power sharing may come in time.


8. Because of the class alliance on which it rests, the white supremacist Afrikaner bourgeoisie cannot reform Apartheid out of existence 'from above'. The white labour aristocracy and petty bourgeoisie who constitute the state bureaucracy and armed forces will not voluntarily surrender their privileges. Apartheid will only be destroyed by a mighty revolutionary movement of the black masses and first and foremost the black proletariat. Can capitalism survive the death of Apartheid? This cannot be excluded but the price of its survival would be a bourgeois-democratic counter-revolution which robbed the rural and urban workers of their victory.

The agency for this abortion of the South African revolution is the nascent black bourgeoisie and the aspirant petty bourgeoisie who will seek to strike a deal with defeated South African and multi-national big capital. Any programme which outlines a self-contained bourgeois-democratic stage opens the door to a capitalist South Africa. Any coalition of class forces built on such a perspective stands to be betrayed at any and every critical juncture by the treacherous bourgeoisie and the vacillating petty bourgeois forces. Only working class leadership and the goal of the proletarian dictatorship can assure victory for the South African revolution against racist, imperialist capital.

9. The South African revolution must be made permanent or it will not successfully solve the burning social problems of the South African masses; unemployment, poverty, exploitation. The only class that can carry through this permanent revolution is the black proletariat, primarily the black African working class together with the much smaller Asian and 'Coloured' working class, and its allies in the impoverished sections of the black petty bourgeoisie.

If the black proletariat forms the vanguard class in the South African revolution then, within this proletariat, the vanguard is to be found in different sectors. First, the trade unions whose social power and degree of urbanisation places them in the front ranks. Alongside them stand the youth and the women of the townships who bear the brunt of the struggle at the moment. No one political ideology unites these vanguard elements. They look variously to the ANC, Black Consciousness, or even to no party at all. But a revolutionary nucleus must direct its activity and propaganda first and foremost to these struggling sections without discriminating on the basis of the professed political ideology of these sections.

The white working class forms a reactionary roadblock. It is not simply a white segment of the South African proletariat but a massively privileged and pampered labour aristocracy, large sections of which are employed in the repressive Apartheid state apparatus or in the role of overseers and task masters of the black proletariat. Winning the white workers over cannot be a condition of the South African revolution. Under the pressure of mass upheaval, through the imminent prospect of the loss of all their privileges, individuals, or even sections of skilled workers, may come over to the black proletariat. They should be encouraged to do so. But there can be no special privileges or reserved place for the white working class in the workers' united front, that is, in the common struggle of the working class to smash apartheid.

10. The only consistently revolutionary class in South Africa is the black proletariat. Apartheid seeks to retard its homogeneity and prevent its urbanisation. However, by the mid 1980s this class, through its position in mining, manufacturing and agriculture, possessed all the social power necessary to deal a decisive blow to the Apartheid state together with its capitalist roots.

The black proletariat has a rich history of struggle and organisation, but never have the black workers been more organised than today, with 10% in trade unions. The unions embrace one part of the vanguard of the black working class. Since 1973, a series of successful struggles by black workers has boosted confidence and legal organisation. Substantial increases in wages have been won and with it legal recognition of black trade unionism.

While class collaboration is the natural political outlook of reformist trade unionism, no established caste of trade union bureaucrats exists AS YET in the black trade unions. Consequently, a tradition of rank and file democracy pervades the new unions. This rank and file democracy will have to be vigorously and consciously defended within the new federation COSATU. The officialdom of this federation will immediately come under the pressure of the state and the multinationals. Its growth will provide a basis for bureaucratic privilege. Lack of an alternative revolutionary communist leadership will tend to allow the leaders to use the unions as a brake on the mass struggles, as a de-politicising agency rather than a school for socialism and an instrument of the class struggle.

11. The emergence of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) out of a merger of FOSAT.U, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and other, smaller, unions represents an important landmark in the history of black trade unionism. It is crucial that the new federation affirm the traditional rank and file democracy and accountability that it inscribed in the origins of the new unions. The rank and file need to be alert to the pressure of the conservative trade union bureaucracies of the international trade union movement who, with their advice and money, aim to crystallise out of the new federation a caste of trade union officials increasingly remote from their members.

Unity in action in a common struggle is a thousand times more important than mere organisational fusion. This is especially true given the existence of large numbers of Black Consciousness inspired union members who remain outside COSATU, and of black members in the Trade Union Congress of South Africa (TUCSA).

The new federation must use the enthusiasm and momentum now established to recruit the bulk of non-union black labour to its ranks and build its unions along industrial lines. While advocating 'non-racialism' within the working class organisations, COSATU should, nevertheless, welcome the black-only unions to its ranks without demanding that they change their own constitutions.


12. More decisive, however, for the future of the South African revolution is how the unions will answer the question: What political role shall we play? Two answers hold the stage today. In the first place, Popular Frontism. Some unions (CUSA, MGWU, FACTU) have endorsed the politics of the United Democratic Front (and hence the ANC). Along this road lies the betrayal of the proletariat's independent class interests in the name of the 'national revolution' against Apartheid.

Other unions, such as those previously in FOSATU, have rejected this road, but only, to date, negatively. They have embraced Economism. While these unions proclaim the 'independence' of the unions from popular front parties they do so in a manner which confines the unions to economic issues, leaving the field clear for the UDF/ANC to dominate the POLITICAL struggle. Economism cannot be a barrier to class collaboration politics since it itself hands over politics to the forces of the bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeoisie. The trade unions cannot in real life avoid political struggle.

The alternative that faces the organised working class is not 'politics or no politics' but whether the working class shall lead the political struggle or, be led. Whether it will fight for its own class political objectives or see its strength used in the interests of other classes, its present and future exploiters.

The grip of Popular Frontism is tightening over the black unions. The growing mass support for the ANC/UDF among unorganised black workers and in the townships has intensified the pressure upon the 'economists' to recognise the leading role of the ANC in the political struggle. It is therefore vital that, when the black unions enter the struggle against Botha around political slogans, the scope and duration of this action should not be controlled by the popular front. Only if the workers' economic organisations take up the task of forming a political leadership, a party with a programme for working class power, will the dangers of economism and popular frontism be overcome.

In the short term, the ANC is likely to increase its influence in COSATU. However, the likelihood of attacks on COSATU by the Apartheid state and the subsequent deepening of the class struggle, opens a real opportunity for revolutionaries within COSATU to expose the ANC's conciliatory popular frontism.

13. The need for an independent working class party with a programme for working class power becomes daily more urgent. The immediate danger facing the black proletariat is that the heroic resistance of the youth, unemployed and women in the townships, seeking to defend themselves from police and army harassment, will exhaust itself before the black trade unions enter the fray around political slogans and for political revolutionary goals. Rather than leaving the political leadership in the hands of the UDF/ANC, the trade unions must be called upon to build an independent class party of the proletariat. In this work it is clear that revolutionaries will have to fight alongside workers and leaders who as yet do not see that such a party must become a revolutionary communist combat party. The decision on the party's programme and final structure must be the outcome of democratic internal debate and the free competition of tendencies.

Doubtless, forces will arise which will seek to direct the workers' party onto the road of a reformist labour party. If the unions actually take up its formation, Stalinism, despite its opposition to any mass independent workers' party, will certainly intervene to direct it into a class collaborationist popular front strategy. Against these tendencies, revolutionaries must fight to define the party, in struggle, on the basis of an action programme which starts from the immediate revolutionary-democratic task of smashing Apartheid and shows how this must be continued into the seizure of political power by the working class. In the process, revolutionaries would have to fight for the structures and organisations of a mass Leninist combat party, drawing in all the militants of the unions, the youth, the women and the rural workers. Only such an organisation could survive the brutal repression and illegality that is ever present in South Africa.

14. There are many political forces in South Africa who are enemies of the independent struggle of the working class and relentless opponents of a revolutionary party which would fight to lead this struggle with the programme of permanent revolution. Chief among them is the African National Congress. This is a petty bourgeois Nationalist formation dominated politically by the Stalinist South African Communist Party (SACP). Through its. 'legal' front, the UDF, and through control of the students' organisation COSA, the ANC exercises considerable influence.

Its programme, since the 1960s, has been furnished by the SACP and is thoroughly Stalinist. It defines the impending revolution against apartheid as a bourgeois-democratic one. From the 1920s through the Freedom Charter until today, the ANC's programme subordinates the workers' movement to a “people’s front” of petty bourgeois and bourgeois nationalists and abandons the 'historic goal' of socialism to a distant future in favour of an idealised version of bourgeois democracy.

This strategy is reactionary and utopian. It is reactionary since it hands leadership of the revolution to the petty bourgeoisie, a class which, at the critical moment, and because of its many ties with the bourgeoisie, will abandon the proletariat and rural poor to satisfy its own demands.

It is utopian, because the ANC's 'democracy' is not attainable or sustainable on the basis of a crisis-racked capitalism in the last quarter of the 20th century. Bonapartism presiding over weak capitalism and dominating the workers and poor peasants (as in Zimbabwe) or a revolutionary workers' government expropriating capitalist property are the choices that confront South Africa's impending proletarian revolution.

15. The strategy and tactics of the ANC have oscillated between a civil rights protest movement and guerrillaism, or a combination of both. The civil rights protest dissipated the potential of mass struggles to overthrow the Apartheid state; guerrillaism arose on the basis of the defeat and subsiding of the mass struggle and served to deepen and confirm that ebb in mass resistance. Combined with a fetishism of illegality, and a scornful, sectarian attitude to the emergence of the new trade unions, the ANC and SACP have conducted the armed struggle on the margins of the mass movement. Indeed, it has been the spontaneous struggles of the townships, not the armed actions of the ANC, which have shaken the regime.

Whilst, of course, it is the duty of all revolutionaries to defend the ANC's freedom fighters against the racist state, guerrilla actions and sabotage, EVEN AT a period of mass upheaval like the present, should play at the most an auxiliary role since the task of a revolutionary vanguard is to start the process of training and arming the masses.

For revolutionary communists, the tactics of the armed struggle must relate to the actions of the masses at every stage. The best way for this to occur in the first instance is to organise the DEFENCE of protests, strikes, boycotts, the need to prevent evictions, the organisation of land seizures. Through these tasks, a workers' militia can be formed which, tied to the growth and development of the mass proletarian struggle (strikes, General Strike), can move forward from defensive actions through the seizure of the factories, to the organisation of the insurrection itself.

16. The black masses of South Africa must be alerted to the dangers of the ANC/UDF. The reaction of the ANC to the toothless measures of the Commonwealth Conference, the Zambian discussions with the leading figures of South African capitalism, all indicate that in the desperate search for a 'community of interest' between black workers and progressive sections of domestic capital, the ANC may well boycott its own democratic programme and settle for an agreement short of one person - one vote; or concede 'constitutional guarantees', i.e. economic and political power, to the white minority.

17. Through the UDF, the Church exercises considerable political influence over the black masses. Where political and cultural life has been brutally restricted for decades, where poverty and oppression triumphs, there the church reaps the benefit, becomes a focus for opposition and resistance. But Tutu and Boesak preach peace and non-violence in the face of state murder; they court the liberal and democratic sympathies of European and US imperialism (Boesak organised Kennedy's tour) and therefore distance themselves from appeals to the international labour movement. With due sensitivity to the deeply held religious convictions of the masses, revolutionaries must, through their slogans and demands, seek to drive a wedge between the workers and youth who overflow the churches and the Tutus and Boesaks whose shallow demagogy flows uninterruptedly from the pulpits.


18. An alternative leadership to the Stalinists and the ANC seems to be provided by the National Forum Committee and its most important constituent organisation, the Azanian Peoples Organisation (AZAPO). The NFC/AZAPO forces make very wide-ranging criticisms of the UDF. The NFC's "Manifesto of the Azanian People" claims to put the struggle for national liberation in South Africa on a socialist course.

They denounce the UDF as a Popular Front. A component of the NFC, the Cape Action League (CAL), rejects alliances with the bourgeoisie. The apparent rejection of both the popular front strategy of the Stalinists and the stageist 'Freedom Charter' represents both the continued influence of 'Trotskyism', albeit of a centrist liquidationist current, and the pressure towards class independence emanating from the growth of the black proletariat and its independent trade unions.

19. The other, indeed the major, political influence in the NFC/AZAPO is the Black Consciousness movement. Whilst this was born in the community and school student struggles of the early and mid-seventies, it took much from earlier 'Africanist' traditions as well as the US Black Power current. While rejecting the SACP/ANC tradition, they also rejected class analysis altogether. Steve Biko argued for black banks and black businesses. The movement centred on community welfare and educational projects. It undoubtedly aided a new generation of young blacks, overcoming the divisions into which the Apartheid state sought and seeks to split the oppressed masses.

20. Whilst the NFC/AZAPO have moved sharply to the left they have not been able to stem the growth of the ANC's influence. Their programme is not a coherent alternative to that of the ANC. They talk about a 'maximum programme of socialist transformation', but between this and a series of 'rights' to work, to free education, decent housing, health, legal and community services, there is no bridge of transitional demands. They have no clear conception of democratic demands and how the fight for them should play a central role in the overthrow of the Apartheid state. On the national question, in rejecting the regime's attempt to split the oppressed, in rejecting the SACP/ANC's 'multiracialism', insisting on 'One Azania, One Nation', they reject the democratic right of self-determination for the oppressed peoples. To do this can strengthen separatism and fears of oppression in a future South Africa/Azania amongst minority peoples within the struggle against apartheid.

The left wing of the NFC, the Cape Action League, despite its apparent rejection of the Popular Front, in fact opens the road to it by advocating strategic alliances with petty bourgeois nationalism, even to the extent of a common party.

21. Also, the Black Consciousness tradition does not produce a correct orientation vis a vis the trade unions. Supporters of this tendency organise the AZACTU and are influential in the CUSA federations. They fight against being drawn into the UDF popular front behind slogans of non-political trade unionism. This is a doubly false policy when the unions are faced with the task of leading the mass resistance to Botha's crackdown. All fighting unions should be within COSATU, seeking to direct the half-million strong black unions towards a general strike and towards forming a workers' party.

Of course, revolutionary communists should direct much of their propaganda towards and, wherever necessary, work within, the left and Black Consciousness organisations in order to show that opposition to the popular front, and espousal of working class independence, requires working class political leadership, through a Leninist combat party, in the struggle to make the South African revolution permanent.


22. In the developing revolutionary situation in South Africa, the proletariat alone can lead all of the oppressed masses to victory against the racist state and against capitalism and imperialism. While the revolution has begun as a democratic one, it must not be confined to a democratic stage. Permanent revolution can, alone, guarantee the completion of democratic tasks by fusing the struggle for democracy inextricably with the struggle for socialist revolution. To take this road, the proletariat must solve, in struggle, its crisis of leadership.

A revolutionary leadership must be forged in the present struggle. The hallmark of a revolutionary party is its programme. In South Africa, a revolutionary action programme must link the struggle for immediate and democratic demands with the struggle for proletarian power. It must be a transitional programme.

23. The struggles around rents, education, against forced removals and for the consumer boycotts have been centred on the townships. They have shown both the determination and ability of the youth and women to lead mass mobilisations against the Apartheid state. These actions must be defended and supported by the organised working class through building joint action councils and militias. The townships on their own cannot defeat either the Apartheid state or its particular laws and state forces. They can be isolated, surrounded and smashed. They cannot paralyse the regime.

In the struggle against the regime, an advance from localised battles must be made. The trade unions must take the lead in launching a general strike. Only the political General Strike can mobilise the entire oppressed, led by the working class, for a direct confrontation with the regime. It can pave the way for the question of power to be posed point blank. It can, if it develops into an insurrection, answer that question in a revolutionary fashion. It can draw into it the youth of the townships and colleges, the unemployed, the women and the unorganised, fusing all of the local and partial struggles.

24. Democratic slogans are of central importance in the revolutionary programme for South Africa. The masses are crying out for political rights. In every sphere of struggle; the workplace, the townships, the homelands, education, the masses come daily face to face with the absence of elementary democratic rights. Their illusions in democratic rights alone as the solution to their exploitation and oppression, and their illusions in leaders who would compromise in the struggle for political democracy, make it all the more vital that revolutionaries take up and fight to lead the struggle for the full realisation of the democratic aspirations of the masses. These cannot be achieved by any form of compromise with, or concessions from, the Apartheid state. That regime is incompatible with political democracy for the black masses.

In place of negotiated concessions, the proletariat and oppressed must fight for:

* The destruction of the Apartheid state and ALL its discriminatory laws and regulations denying permanent residency rights, equal status etc, to the black masses.

* Universal, equal suffrage for all people over the age of 16.

* The break up of the standing army and police and their replacement with a people's militia.

* Down with the Balkanisation of South Africa. For a united republic, but with the provision of the right to self-determination, up to and including separation, of any people excluding the white oppressor community.

* For an end to imperialist secret diplomacy. Renounce all treaties made by imperialism. Support the struggles of the African masses against imperialism and its agents.

* Abolition of the barbarous separation of the family that is imposed by Apartheid. For complete freedom in the relations between men, women and children.

* For a sovereign Constituent Assembly to be convened immediately, open to all parties, excluding the counter-revolutionary ones who seek to maintain or re-impose the Apartheid order.

25. The engine of the South African revolution will be the urban black proletariat, but it must also seek allies amongst the millions of rural blacks, most immediately with the 1.4 million rural proletarians working on white-owned farms, the natural agents of democratic collectivisation.

But this is not enough. Though South Africa lacks a large peasantry in the classic sense, and the establishment of millions of atomised small holdings is not in the proletariat's interest, millions are condemned to poverty and starvation in the 'homelands' and other rural areas. There are, in addition, many "squatters" and illegal occupiers of abandoned white-owned land. These layers cannot be mobilised for the revolution without the leadership of the concentrated urban workers, who must encourage and support the establishment of rural soviets to develop and express the needs and aspirations of the rural masses, soviets whose programme would include:

* Assistance in the development of a plan that can ensure the land is utilised to the maximum benefit of the Azanian people.

* Seizure of the large "white" farms and wherever possible, collectivise them within a system of land nationalisation.

* Legitimisation of all illegal 'squatters' and occupiers of 'black spots' and abandoned "white" land.

* Discourage the breaking up of large holdings by the land hungry, while remaining willing to support the revolutionary seizure and break-up of large estates where this happens.

* Reach out to the families of migrant workers in the rest of southern Africa, helping to spread the revolution throughout the sub-continent.

26. The mass of black women must be mobilised against their own specific oppression, in an independent democratically organised movement, under revolutionary working class leadership, as a vital component of the permanent revolution.

Denied all rights as blacks, the women are further oppressed (i) as servant labour for the privileged whites; (ii) as extra-cheap labour in industry and services; (iii) as domestic slaves in their own families. Particularly harsh is the lot of women in the 'homelands' and other rural areas who bear children and are left to raise them in squalid housing conditions, often without their male partners for the long periods of their migration, and subsisting on tiny plots of soil with unreliable small remittances from their absent partners.

The absence of social and health services is a burden more crushing on black women than for any other section of the blacks. The Bantu and Church schools deny women the education that is vital to their own sexual self-determination, in particular for the control of their own fertility.

In order to mobilise the mass of oppressed women to their fullest potential and for their most important needs, the following must be fought for:

* Full unionisation of women workers, with the right of caucus, in industrial unions; equal pay and a minimum wage; equal opportunity in training and hiring; free workplace creches and paid maternity leave.

* Comprehensive sex education; free, safe contraception, sterilisation and abortion available on demand.

* Free comprehensive nationalised health services under working class control. A programme of public works under working class control to make adequate housing available.

* Free legal divorce at the request of one partner and adequate state maintenance for the dependents.

* A comprehensive social welfare system.

* Free community creches and nursery schools, subsidised community canteens as steps towards the socialisation of housework.

* Education and action in the mass organisations to combat all forms of sexual harassment and male chauvinism.

27. The task of winning democracy is in itself a revolutionary task in South Africa. The working class must not eschew politics. It must take its place at the forefront of the struggle. It must build factory and workplace councils to organise strikes, link up with township committees in the struggle. It must organise a militia based on these action councils. Such councils and such a militia can stop a Constituent Assembly being the plaything of those who wish to negotiate with imperialism and those who wish to construct a democratic obstacle to working class power. Such councils must become town-wide organisations, struggling against Apartheid AND providing a real alternative state power - SOVIET (Action Council) POWER.

To succeed in this struggle, the South African proletariat must take the lead in organising and leading a mass insurrection. In breaking up the armed forces of Apartheid the opportunity exists to win the black rank and file from their white officers, to create black soldiers' councils, to elect officers and to mete out punishment to the racists.

28. The working class must never for one minute forget or subordinate its own class demands in the present struggle. Better wages, an end to all discrimination in the workplace, shorter hours and better conditions, full union rights etc. must ALL be fought for. At the same time, the working class must link these immediate demands to the political struggle for power. It must fight for:

* Workers' control of production, hiring and firing, speed and intensity of work, of safety and of the length of the working day.

* For workers' control over the length of the working week so that available work may be shared and the unemployed, including women, given jobs.

* For the protection of wages against inflation by a sliding scale of increases linked to price increases. For committees of the workers’ and women's organisations to decide on the workers' cost of living index and the wage increases needed, and on equal pay for women workers.

* For mass workplace based democracy - via the mass meeting, protected from the bosses and their thugs by WORKERS' DEFENCE SQUADS - to take all decisions requiring action and impose workers' control.

* Open the books of the capitalist enterprises to the inspection of the workers. The workers have had to pay in blood for the profit margins to be found in the ledgers of Anglo-American and the other corporations. They demand to see the extent of their exploitation, the better to end it.

* Nationalise without compensation and put under workers' control, the giant factories and industries owned by the white capitalists, and foreign capitalists.

29. To defend each and every one of its gains and to press home each and every one of its demands, the working class needs to take state power. Only such power can improve the lot of all of South Africa's oppressed masses. The workers' councils must not allow democracy in the shape of a Constituent Assembly to hinder them in the struggle for power. They must press on, relentlessly, to assert their own power under the slogan:


30. The struggle of the South African masses against the Apartheid state and for proletarian revolution will have an enormous impact on the states in Southern Africa dominated by South African imperialism. It will progressively throw into crisis the regimes which have compromised and collaborated with the Apartheid state. In the struggle for workers' power, the South African masses must stand at the forefront of aiding and solidarising with the struggles which develop against the South African imperialists and their agents. A victorious proletarian revolution in South Africa would immediately take steps to spread the revolution beyond its borders, starting with the surrounding states previously dominated by South African imperialism. Only such a perspective "for a federation of Workers States of Southern Africa" would buttress the workers' republic of South Africa against the inevitable attack by imperialism and open the prospect of overcoming the economic and social distortions resulting from South African imperialism's domination of the surrounding states.


Adopted at a delegate conference of the MRCI, December 31st, 1985