Over the weekend of the 21-23 of April, 1384 delegates from 24 unions gathered in Boksburg for the founding congress of the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU). The launch of South Africa’s second biggest labour federation comes at a time of heightened political tensions and could be a decisive event for the labour movement.

Over the last few days the political crisis in the country has deepened. The ANC government is in turmoil after President Zuma’s midnight purge of his cabinet on Thursday. Leading members have openly come out against Zuma, bringing the factional battles which have been raging over the last period clearly into the open.

South Africa is in turmoil. President Jacob Zuma has effectively carried out an overnight soft coup. By purging the opposing big business faction from the cabinet and replacing it with stooges from his own faction he has brought the ANC infighting to a head. The consequences will be monumental, not just for the factions involved but for the class struggle in general.

Jacob Zuma at World Economic Forum. Photo: Matthew Jordaan (CC-BY-SA)

At his annual State of the Nation Address (SONA), South Africa’s president  Zuma made a song and dance about embarking on a programme of “radical economic transformation”. At the time we explained that this was actually a ruse. What he was actually embarking upon was an attempt to promote the interests of the emerging parasitic black bourgeoisie around the Gupta family at the expense of the black working masses.

The mobilisation of thousands of South African students taking their futures into their own hands has shaken up South African society. This is an extremely significant development. It means the youth are not content to leave their fate to the those politicians and leaders who have adapted themselves to life under capitalism. The youth are now some of the most politically active layers in society and are taking the road of class struggle.

The recent local government election results represent a decisive shift in the South African political landscape. It comes in the wake of years of ferocious class struggle in which all the contradictions of South African society have come to the surface in an explosive way. The result of these elections provides us with a snapshot into this process in which the collective mood of anger, frustration and disillusionment among the masses are the dominant features.

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