A forensic report by investigators appointed by the South African Reserve Bank into the collapse of the Limpopo-based VBS Bank has confirmed “one of the biggest bank frauds that we’ve seen in South Africa”. Over a period of three years, nearly 2 billion rand of poor people’s money was stolen. The report has identified at least 53 individuals who, through various schemes, benefited from a combined 1.89 billion rand between 2015 and 2018.

On Friday 14 September, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced his much-awaited economic stimulus package, which is supposed to “kick-start” the sluggish economy and “ignite” growth. With the economy back in recession and the support for the ANC at a record low seven months before the next general elections, Ramaphosa has to move quickly to prevent the party losing its majority, which would usher in a new period of instability in the form of coalition politics.

Over the last week, some sections of the ruling class have changed their tune about the debate around land expropriation without compensation in South Africa. The rabidly conservative and far-right Afrikaner groups such as Afriforum, which were given a strong voice in the mainstream media at the beginning of the debate, are increasingly being squeezed out by the big capitalists.

SAFTU’s general strike on Wednesday was a serious warning to the government and the capitalist class. It was part of a sharp intensification of industrial action by workers in big sectors of the economy. The attacks on the working class are preparing a backlash and an upsurge of the class struggle.

Across the country, workers are mobilising for a mass general strike on 25 April. Although all sectors of the economy are likely to be affected, the strike is expected to hit municipal services, transport, manufacturing, mining, construction and the public sector particularly hard. The government’s determination to continue with the legislative process on proposed changes to the labour law is preparing the ground for a confrontation with the unions.

On 27 February, the National Assembly of South Africa passed a motion on land expropriation, tabled by the Economic Freedom Fighters and supported by the majority of parties in parliament, including the ANC. Ben Morken in South Africa looks at the real meaning of this proposal and provides a Marxist perspective on the question.

On 21 February the middle-class illusions in Ramaphosa received a shattering blow when the outgoing finance minister delivered a brutal austerity budget. This was just one day after the new president had told everyone during his State of the Nation Address that a “new dawn” has broken.

A wave of optimism has swept across South Africa since Jacob Zuma resigned as president of the country last Wednesday. There was a collective sigh of relief that the 9-year scandal-ridden presidency of Zuma was finally over. Middle-class commentators said that a ‘new dawn’ has arrived. But Marxists have explained many times that the crisis facing South Africa is not that of an individual, a single political party nor one section of the ruling class. The political crisis is only an expression of the crisis of the capitalist system as a whole. And as long as the system survives, changes at the top will not result in changes of anything fundamental.

"There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen.” - Lenin

"Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.” - Euripides

As we write these lines, the Zuma-Gupta empire is crumbling. In one of the most dramatic days in South African politics in recent memory, Jacob Zuma – and his friends, the Gupta brothers – are being purged by a rival wing of the ruling class. The purge is the most emphatic sign that the two rival factions can no longer cohabitate.

Extraordinary events over the last few days, surrounding the fate of Jacob Zuma, have plunged the ANC – and the country – into a deep crisis. Zuma’s scandal-plagued presidency is clearly untenable for the Ramaphosa faction, which marginally controls the ANC. Moreover, Zuma’s continued presence is destabilising the whole political situation and could damage the ANC’s electoral prospects in 2019. Big business is desperate to dig itself out of a hole. The problem for them is that the balance of forces between the two fighting ANC factions is very even, as we saw at the national conference in December. Now the crisis in the party has put the whole country in political limbo.

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