What’s the colour of the revolution?Comment on this story
Floyd Shivambu and Justice Piitso debate the significance of the colour red and its role in revolutionary struggles.
SACP claims to be a socialist movement but misuses red for its own purposes, writes Floyd Shivambu.
The election of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) into Parliament and the legislatures signifies the decisive take-off of the struggle for economic freedom in our lifetime.
All the representatives deployed to all nine provincial legislatures and the two houses of Parliament are representatives of the working class and the poor.
The EFF’s class perspective on parliaments is that they are contested spaces, primarily by the two dominant classes in a class-divided society. It is only the EFF that is on the Left. The rest represent the interests of the capitalist class.
South Africa is a capitalist society and in any capitalist society, the state is nothing but a committee for the management of the common affairs of the bourgeoisie. This means that the ANC-led state and government are nothing but a committee whose primary programme is to recreate conditions for big businesses and corporates to continue doing business and exploit workers and the environment for maximum profits.
This explains the ANC government’s many decisions, policies and actions when workers confront the bourgeoisie in workplaces and it intervenes in methods that seek to protect capitalist interests.
The only superficial changes the ANC government seek to achieve is the creation of the “black bourgeoisie”, and this was clearly expressed by Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe, who is also head of ANC policy, in his response to President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address.
Radebe said: “Our emphasis will be on creating black industrialists in the productive sectors of the economy and developing a patriotic black bourgeoisie.”
This is the primary programme of the ANC-led government and because the ANC holds the electoral majority, the programmes and institutions it occupies seek to consolidate this self-seeking programme of creating a black patriotic bourgeoisie.
Historically, political parties and movements who stood opposed to the bourgeoisie, which the ANC government promotes, were communist, socialist or Left parties and movements whose primary political programme was discontinuation of private ownership of the key means of production such as land, huge factories, mines and other corporates that exploit workers to maximise profits.
Globally, the colour of these parties and movements is red, hence the EFF chose red as its primary colour.
In the EFF logo, there is a red spear “signifying the defence of the African Revolution mired by the blood of the fallen heroes and heroines of the liberation struggle”. The red is significant because it is our inspiration to fight uncompromisingly for the achievement of our goals.
It is important to highlight that there are political formations, such as the SACP, that define themselves as a Left movement and misuse the red colour for their own purposes. The SACP is not a representative of the working class and the poor. Any person who argues to the contrary needs closer mental examination.
Most of its senior leaders are part of the committee for the management of common affairs of the bourgeoisie (the state) and hostile to workers’ interests and demands.
The SACP has fashioned itself as a socialist movement and it is nothing of that kind, but a formation of careerists, an organised faction in the ANC to fight factional battles for its leaders to exercise upward social-economic mobility.
The EFF has stepped in to be the true political and ideological representative of the working class and the poor and our political programme speaks volumes. Our founding manifesto correctly says, “the EFF is a radical, leftist, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movement with an internationalist outlook anchored by popular grassroots formations and struggles. The EFF will be the vanguard of community and workers’ struggles and will always be on the side of the people. The EFF will, with determination and consistency, associate with the protest movement in South Africa and will also join in struggles that defy unjust laws.”
That is exactly who we are, and the only political formation that deserve the red colour in South African politics.
The EFF is not ashamed of workers, and proudly associates with ordinary workers and the poor. The fact that we chose to reject bourgeois decadence and show-off in all official gatherings of Parliaments and chose instead to be dressed like ordinary workers is a sign that we are not ashamed of the working class and the poor. We are a movement of ordinary people and the fact that many people are inspired by the EFF is evidence that we are not a mediocre formation.
We will continue to wear clothes that represent the working class because that is who were are. We have never made a secret of the fact that in a class-divided South Africa, we are on the side of the working class, those who do not own the key means of production.
Disallowing our members their democratic right to take part in the legislatures on the basis of their clothes smacks of the ANC’s loathing of workers.
The ANC representatives do not want to be reminded that real struggles are about ordinary people, and they then resort to abuse Parliamentary procedures and rules to censure the EFF.
We are committed to taking over through democratic means of recurrent elections. If those occupying power deny the EFF the democratic right to seize power on behalf of the working class, we will be pushed to pursue alternate means because on a level electoral playing field, the EFF represents most people.
The EFF is the only formation that stands for the poor, and we will not dignify the ranting of failed politicians like Justice Piitso, whose recall from Cuba as an ambassador was mired in controversy.
Instead of learning proper revolutionary theory and practice in Cuba, Piitso degenerated and sings out loud to the masters so that they can invite him to the dinner table. As he continues to sing for his supper, the EFF will continue to represent the interests of the working class and the poor and hoist the red flag in all Parliaments of South Africa.
*Shivambu is EFF political commissar and parliamentary chief whip
Red cannot be attributed to the EFF’s fashion parade of mediocrity, writes Justice Piitso.
The red-fashioned parade of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) at the doorsteps of Parliament is an act of mediocrity. It is important that we bring to the fore the most important debate about the political significance of the red colour in the revolutionary struggles of the working-class movement.
The colour is about the unity and solidarity of the working class under the political leadership of our revolutionary movement.
It is about the suffering and deprivation, the sweat and and blood shed by our heroic working-class force across the world, who died in the line of duty, in factories, mines and in all other centres of production of the empire of capitalism.
Some of our detractors have praised the arrival of the red fashion-designed pseudo anarchists of the EFF to the doors of Parliament, as an event of a far-reaching political significance. As a political tapestry that will change the complexion of the corridors of our legislative chamber.
The people of our country must understand that our red cannot be attributed to a fashion parade of mediocrity.
Our colour is a symbol of the revolutionary struggles of the international working-class movement.
It is the colour of communism and proletarian internationalism. A colour that represents the historic mission of the proletarian class to liberate itself and all of humanity.
The 19th century heralded the rise of the capitalist mode of production and a bourgeois class as a necessary condition for the developing modern state.
The new modern economic system created conducive conditions for its own development, markets for its goods, freedom of commerce and transport and new heightened forms of competition among the nations’ states.
The development of capitalism and the bourgeois class brought into being a new class of the proletariat. This was as a result of the massive movement of the peasantry from the periphery of our countrysides into the urban centres to seek better living conditions.
The new objective realities of the development of the capitalist mode of production led to the sharpening of class contradictions between those who own the means of production and the property-less class.
Class struggles assumed a completely new form and character as a result of the new forms of capitalist oppression and exploitation.
There was an impetus of new waves of struggles led by the working class to emancipate itself from the shackles of the capitalist oppression and exploitation.
The red flag became a distinct feature of the unity and the solidarity of the international proletariat movement.
In 1871 the French working class declared the first workers’ republic of the Paris Commune. A red flag was hoisted at hotel de Ville in Paris which became the headquarters of the commune.
It was for the first time in human history that the proletariat and its vanguard party captured the state power, established the dictatorship of the proletariat and begun the socialist transition of society. The heroic event of the Paris commune represented a historic leap for the victory of the struggles of the working class across the world.
Vladimir Lenin has to say the following about the significance of the red flag: “The flag of the Commune is the flag of the world’s republic, the memory of the fighters of the Commune is honoured not only by the workers of France, but by the proletariat of the world.
“For the Commune fought, not for some local or narrow national aim, but for the emancipation of all toiling humanity, of all the downtrodden and oppressed.”
Therefore the red-fashion parade by the EFF at the corridors of our legislative chambers is nothing else but a testimony of how the enemy is capable of mastering the political camouflage.
It is an episode of how political chameleons want to thrive over the carcass of the working class.
Throughout history opportunists movement has been trying to undermine the role of the revolutionary movement and its political leadership in the struggles of the working class.
In our own specific conditions of the South African socio-economic realities, the strategic focus of the opportunists movement is to undermine the political leadership role of our revolutionary movement and the history of the struggles of the people of our country.
Our revolutionary movement is the main and fundamental weapon for the liberation of the working class. Therefore, the tasks of our national democratic revolution cannot be performed by forces of counter-revolution.
Our immediate task is to intensify the ideological and political work to elevate the political consciousness of our people.
We need to prepare a calibre cadreship of our people capable of outmanoeuvring the intellectual threadbare distortions of our scientific theory by the enemies of our revolution.
It is the fundamental reason why political education becomes an essential life of any revolutionary movement.
It is the fundamental reason why our people must understand that our red colour is not just a symbol of mediocrity, but a revolutionary feature of the struggles of the working class.
The task of all revolutionaries is to provide an effective political leadership against background of the growing hostilities and most aggressive world material conditions dominated by the forces of imperialism and neo-colonialism.
Our failure to assume this effective political leadership role will not only emasculate forces in our side but expose our national democratic revolution into the hands of counter-revolutionary insurgents.
Even if they can sing and dance our songs, appropriate our revolutionary colours and traditions, they remain to be a counter-revolution.
*Piitso is the former ambassador to Cuba and the former provincial secretary of the SACP, writing in his personal capacity.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.