South Africa: Socialist election campaign at full throttle

Building a bridgehead to a new mass workers’ party

With less than two weeks until polling day, the Workers and Socialist Party’s (WASP) election campaign is at full throttle. Hundreds of activists are working round the clock in communities and workplaces across the country to build the party and win votes. Despite our small resources, we are winning over communities and workers to our banner with our five key election messages:

  • Nationalisation under working class control
  • United struggle for real service delivery
  • Fight for decent jobs for all
  • Working class MPs on workers’ wages
  • Only socialism means freedom

The Gauteng Civic Association, which organises in the Pretoria townships of Atteridgeville and Mamelodi, has agreed to affiliate to WASP. They are organising a service delivery protest on 29 April and have invited WASP to play a full part. In the same area, the residents of the desperately poor informal settlement ‘The Hills’, just next to Atteridgeville, have asked for WASP’s assistance to campaign to force the municipality to provide running water, sanitation and electricity. Last weekend we were able to take journalists around the settlement to expose the municipality’s inaction and in doing so gaining WASP the second news item on the primetime TV news slot.

Just another few kilometres down the road, last week the township of Olievenhoutbosch exploded in a service delivery protest over lack of adequate housing in the area. We are working to link up the three neighbouring communities into a united service delivery protest of the whole of Pretoria West.

With the crucial support of the Congress of South African Non-Racial Civic Movements (COSANCOM) in the townships around Johannesburg – Alexandra, Tembisa, Freedom Park and Soweto – WASP supporters have been out putting up posters and fixing boards to lampposts. In the Vaal, the Working Class Coordinating Committee (organised in ten Vaal townships) called for a WASP vote and is working hard to campaign for us.

The Bekkersdaal community – famous for its militant struggle for basic services and its call to boycott the elections – is reversing that position and giving its support to WASP. A mass community meeting will take place there on 27 April – the commemoration of 20 years of ‘freedom’ – and WASP is to be given a platform and endorsed by the community leadership.

In Limpopo, comrades are visiting rural villages daily, holding public meetings and winning support from WASP. Across the entire province community members can be seen wearing their WASP T-shirts with pride.

Youth campaign

The Socialist Youth Movement is also taking off, with branches now established in numerous university and college campuses in several provinces with Limpopo in first place. Secondary school students are enthusiastic campaigners in Limpopo and Gauteng.

Campaigning is taking place in the other major cities of Durban and Cape Town too, with an important base of support at the Numsa-organised Toyota factory in Durban and across the small industrial sites in Cape Town. In the Western Cape, the shack dwellers’ movement Abahlali baseMjondolo has decided to join COSANCOM and WASP.

WASP has won important bases of support amongst members and shop stewards of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa). Numsa’s December special congress voted to withdraw support from the ANC in the 2014 election. In the Free State, Cape Town, Tembisa, Klerksdorp, Krugersdorp, Witbank, Rustenburg and elsewhere, WASP is working closely with Numsa members to turn out the vote for WASP. In the Gauteng goldfields, WASP supporters are active in the townships and hostels around the mines campaigning at many shafts including Kusaselethu, KDC East, KDC West, Anglo Gold Ashanti and Westonaria shafts. On the East and West rand – the industrial heartland of the country – WASP supporters are campaigning at the huge factories. WASP’s presidential candidate – Moses Mayekiso – is still recognised by workers here after his many years as a metalworkers’ trade union organiser in the area.

WASP is the only workers’ party standing in the election. Despite an increasing silence from the media on WASP and the disappointing decision of the entire left in South Africa not to call for a vote for WASP but rather to either spoil ballots or vote ‘against’ the ANC, we remain confident that we will win enough votes to secure representation in the National Assembly. This will be a crucial bridgehead in the development of a mass workers’ party in the coming months and years. WASP is playing the role of a pioneer assembling the forces that can achieve this historic task.

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