RPP Guest post Reply

RPP is our code for the weekly blog post, op-ed by the School’s celebrity economist / pundit / opinionista, but he will probably only start writing later in the year, so in the meantime we are filling in with some guest posts.

With the 3-M’s in the news: Marikana, Malema and Mangaung, we asked a political scientist for his views. This week Jan Venter on Institutionalising the second phase of the revolution?! The right way to go?!

Jan Venter
Political Philosophy (NWU)

After reading Prof Krugell’s blog post I got to thinking (and for a political philosopher that is usually a long and difficult process!) I agree we are indeed at a critical juncture! The Tripartheid governing alliance has proposed a second phase to their revolution which is commonly called the NDR or National Democratic Revolution that wishes to fundamentally alter the social and economic visage of the South African society. I quote:

“Our political transition was never only about freedom from political bondage. From the onset, democratisation was inextricably linked with freedom from socio-economic bondage…” (ANC, 2012:6).

Central to this “mission statement” is a new version of an activist South Africa state called the Developmental state that features prominently in the literature of both the ANC and the SACP[1].

The South African version of the Developmental state will have according to the ANC the following attributes: 1) the capacity to intervene in the economy in the interest of higher rates of growth and sustainable development; 2) effective and sustainable programmes that address challenges of unemployment, poverty and underdevelopment with requisite emphasis on 3) vulnerable groups; 4) emphasis on the mobilisation of the people as a whole, especially the poor, 5) to act as their own liberators through participatory and representative democracy. This version of the developmental state is by admission of the ANC, based on (amongst others) Mao Zedong’s Mass Line principles which is commonly defined as a organizing methodology that encompasses philosophy, strategy, tactics, leadership and organizational theory and is supposed to reinvigorate the revolution through mass rallies, mass participation, study groups, the rekindling of patriotism and loyalty to the party. (There is more than a strong connection between the Mass Line and propaganda and we all know the party, the government and the president now need all the loyalty it can conjure!)

So this is the newest (social-, political- and economic macro-) institution that the government is trying to institutionalise, or sell to the masses of people in the townships, the city dwellers, the farm workers and the bloggers. Now the tragedy of Marikana (and other tragedies that go unreported) can be ascribed to what S.P. Huntington (2006) calls a process of continual rapid socio-economic “modernisation” since the 1980’s in South Africa that produces political instability. Modernisation equals social mobilisation that increases aspirations; economic development is supposed to satisfy those aspirations and should reduce social frustration and the consequent political intolerance and instability. In South Africa however there has been nothing but social/political mobilisation for the past 70+ years and no satisfaction of aspirations for large parts of the population, especially since 1994. The result is political intolerance and unrest, now expressed in strikes in the mining sector that, as was seen, is dealt with by all sides in a violent manner. So to say these are merely strikes as they occur in say Sweden, will oversimplify matters. These events are confluences of expressions of political and economic frustration, fanned by reckless political populism, acerbated by poor governance at national- through to local levels. For some of these people the issue is not just a living wage, it is an unfulfilled promise left vacant since before 1994 and that is why the government needs a second phase of the revolution to address the socio-economic transition that has not fulfilled expectations. The questions now: Is government’s strategy the right one? Is it not already too late?



African National Congress. 2012. THE SECOND TRANSITION? Building a national democratic society and the balance of forces in 2012 A discussion document towards the National Policy Conference, Version 7.0 as amended by the Special NEC 27 February 2012. www.anc.org.za/docs/discus/2012/transition.pdf.

South African Communist Party. 1989. Programme of the South African Communist Party as Adopted at the Seventh Congress, 1989. http://www.sacp.org.za/docs/history/power1989.html.

Huntington, S.P. 2006. Political order in changing societies. London: Yale University

[1] This last point is interesting and we should not forget that the SACP is the governing partner of the ANC although they differ to a degree in the interpretation of important ideological source material. For instance according to the SACP “victory in the national democratic revolution is, for our working class, the most direct route to socialism and ultimately communism (SACP, 1989).

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