Now it may be a while since Britain heard the demand that: “MPs will take home no more than the pay of an ‘average paid, skilled worker’ each month.” The last time round it ended in the debacle of taxis going round Liverpool with redundancy notices for council workers. And Neil Kinnock kicking them out of the Labour Party in 1985.
Well, some thing never quite die – perhaps it will take a silver bullet at midnight. So an offshoot of the good old Militant Tendency whom I used to fight inside my very own Labour Party branch is alive and well in South Africa. It has just put forward someone I once had as a house-guest – Moses Mayekiso as their presidential candidate. When I knew him he was a leading member of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa – NUMSA. I remember the ANC and Communist Party coming round and refusing to leave my house (foot in the door etc.) until they had spoken to him and given him the ‘correct’ line.
Moses is now standing as the Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) candidate in the May 7th general election.
The WASP platform is exactly the same (give or take the odd local reference) to the one the Militant Tendency stood on all those years ago. It is nationalisation of the top companies and a demand that MPs will take home no more than the “average paid, skilled South African worker” is paid each month.
Anyone doubting that WASP is no more than a branch of the Militant Tendency need only recall the international guru of the party, Peter Taafe’s visit to South Africa in February 2013.
The ANC has been fretting about the role of Militant for the last 30 years. This group of Trotskyists managed to get a foothold inside the ANC’s trade union wing, SACTU. As the South African labour commentator, Terry Bell pointed out they were part of what was then called the Marxist Workers Tendency of the ANC.
WASP’s heroine has been Liv Shange, who married South African Xolani Shange in December 2004. A Swedish blond, she is frequently seen at demonstrations selling the party’s newspapers. The ANC would love to throw her out of the country. They tried not giving a visa in June 2013, but such a row erupted that the South African authorities gave in.
The ANC has suggested that Shange is part of a shadowy international ‘Third Force’. She’s been accused by ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe of causing “anarchy” in the platinum mines and even of fuelling the Marikana crisis. When President Jacob Zuma blamed “shadowy international elements” stoking opposition to Cosatu and the National Union of Mineworkers (Num) it was she he was having a dig at – as the investigative magazine Noseweek pointed out.
So now Moses Mayekiso has been dragged into the WASP fold, and will stand for the party’s presidential candidate. Let’s see how he does, but my guess is that there will be no solid left wing party in South Africa until NUMSA finally leaves Cosatu and forms one of its own.