Updated: Jan 6
Ainara Mancebo, Research Fellow at the Ronin Institute
Dr. Ainara Mancebo is a research fellow in the Political Science department at the Ronin Institute. Her research interests focus on institutional change, party system and party behavior in emerging democracies. His recent research results include "The Behavior of South African Opposition Parties in response to national Disasters -- a case study of COVID-19 in 2019" and "The Motivations of Political parties for Electoral Reform in The Democratic Transition period in South Africa".
Fight corruption and focus on the people at the bottom
1.According to the current situation of the pandemic, what are the governance problems that the three parties are facing? When the three parties reach cooperation, will they encounter any new difficulties?
The tripartite alliance, formed by the African National Congress (ANC), the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has commanded stable governments and legislative majorities without interruption. During the current crisis of Covid-19 pandemic, the Alliance has continued showing strong governance performance. Since the declaration of a national state of disaster, on the 16th of March 2020, which empowers the executive to coordinate disaster management mechanism that focuses on preventing and reducing the outbreak of Covid-19 virus. The alliance, led by the ANC, has been able to control the narrative of the government response as well as able to implement normative, technical and financial mechanism to respond adequately to the Covid-19 crisis without division inside the alliance.
2.A tripartite alliance formed by the three parties bring a lot. What can we learn from their political behavior in South Africa?
The long alliance between the ANC, SACP and COSATU is a successful achievement, where communists and trade unionist are still believing they are free to pursue their interest within the ANC. The South African dominant party is a broad church, where advocates of democratic centralism and participatory democracy coexist inside the party and the tripartite alliance. Thus far, the government of the tripartite has at least pursued racial integration and national economic development. The country remains more consensual and politically inclusive than any of the other African countries in the post-independence era.
3.South African Communist Party was born almost at the same time as the Communist Party of China. Both parties celebrated their 100th anniversary this year. What are the advantages of the two parties?
The SACP, through its two stage conception of struggle, claims to have found a way to effectively combine the struggle against racial oppression with the struggle against capitalist exploitation. Since its alliance with the ANC in the 1940s, making it compulsory for members to join the ANC, the party has successfully shaped the ANC as a multi-class national liberation movement. The key challenge was to ensure that the working class led such democratic' alliance, and this meant, for the SACP, the vanguard party should play that role within the alliance. SACP has indeed achieved a significant presence in the apparatus of power in South Africa and although its ability to win votes on its own had not been tested, the party has emerged since the eve of democracy as a parliamentary and government force to be taken seriously in the country.
4.In the next hundred years, the turning point will appear again. What will be the turning point for the South African Communist Party? What are the challenges facing the South African Communist Party and the Communist Party of China?
During the democratic transition in South Africa, the SACP emerged from four decades underground with its prestige at an all time historical high. Since 1990, the party has accepted the structural reformist realpolitik of South African theorists as Joe Slovo or Jeremy Cronin. As a result it was an adoption of the theory of structural reformism with a vast state-driven social reform agenda to achieve social empowerment of the working class. However, the last 10 years of state corruption, known as 'state capture', has opened up new opportunities for forging a participatory democratic Left alternative to the ANC. As consequence of years of neglect of the poor and marginalised have resulted in declining voter turnouts, and declining ANC support at the polls.
The challenge for the SACP is to bring back the promise of a participatory democratic socialist trajectory, which began to emerge since the early 1990s in South Africa. Likewise the Communist Party of China should start to open a debate on participatory democratic socialism in the near future.
Collator: Lin Xinyi