The news of heavy fraud and corruption in two of South Africa’s biggest monopolies has thrown the big capitalists into turmoil. The scandals, which broke out almost simultaneously, involve two global behemoths, Naspers and Steinhof, and implicate some of the very biggest tycoons in the country, such as Christo Wiese, Markus Jooste and Koos Bekker.

The announcement on Wednesday of more than 3000 job cuts at Sibanye Gold represents a clear attack against the South African working-class. Sibanye announced 2,025 ‘retrenchments’ and 1,350 ‘voluntary redundancies’, i.e, 3,375 job cuts at its Cooke mines in Gauteng and Beatrix West operations in the Free State.

Over the recent period sections of South African big business have been very vocal against corruption and have promised to “fight against” it.

But all of this hue and cry is merely a cover for an ongoing clash between different wings of the ruling class. These are primarily between the traditional big business section and the upstart wing of the Gupta family, which has close ties with president Jacob Zuma and a big section of the ANC government.

The murder of former African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) Secretary-General, Sindiso Magaqa, was received with shock, anger and revulsion across the country. Although his shooting is connected to the infighting in the ANC at local level, it reflects the present crisis in the party generally. Now, three months before of the National Conference, the factions in the party are in an open civil war with serious consequences for the class struggle.

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.

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