Socialist Worker

South Africa—birth of a party that says it stands for revolution

by Allen Goatley, Keep Left (South Africa)
Issue No. 2649

The conference brought together over 1,000 delegates

The conference brought together over 1,000 delegates (Pic: @OfficialSRWP on Facebook)


The Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party (SRWP) has been formally launched in South Africa.

Over 1,000 delegates from its many branches assembled in Johannesburg heeding the call to build “a party that is not a militant version of the ANC”. The party says, “We stand for revolution—we are for socialism”.

The SRWP declared that it is a “Marxist-Leninist vanguard party”. It adds, “We openly declare for all the world to know that we as socialists are committed to building an organisation of a revolutionary working class that will seize power for the project of building socialism, in which no human will be exploited by another.”

The launch of the party was spearheaded by the National Union of Metal Workers (Numsa). Numsa broke from its traditional home, the ANC-led Tripartite Alliance which involves the Communist Party and the Cosatu union federation, after the Marikana massacre of 2012.

This saw 34 striking miners killed by an elite police unit.

Party supporters want to go beyond the politics of the ANC

Party supporters want to go beyond the politics of the ANC (Pic: @OfficialSRWP on Facebook)


When Numsa broke from backing the ANC, it was expelled from Cosatu for its outspoken criticism of the then state president Jacob Zuma and corruption.

Previously strong supporters of the South African Communist Party, Numsa vowed at the time to build a new workers’ party.

For three days last week, delegates debated the founding documents of the new party. Members warned against building a party leadership separated from its base.

The party promised South Africa “nothing but class struggle” and has entered national elections set for 8 May with the slogan of “Equality, work and land”.

Late into the game of elections, the party has a lot of work ahead of it to gain votes. It hopes to win some MPs but says “participation in parliament is not a destination but rather a tactic to expose the limitations of bourgeois democracy and to communicate with the masses”.

Keep Left calls for a vote for the SRWP. But the real test for the party will be after the elections.

Party leader Irvin Jim with delegates

Party convenor Irvin Jim with delegates (Pic: @OfficialSRWP on Facebook)


It will have to show its relevance in the day to day struggles of workers and the poor. It will need to act as a lever to increase people’s confidence in their own ability through mass action to defeat the daily divisive attacks that capital launches against them.

We have at present a rising tide of xenophobia in the country spurred on by the statements of some government officials and right wing parties that “foreigners” are taking up too many beds in hospitals, are taking jobs away from locals and are responsible for a rising crime wave in the country.

The SRWP will need to wade in heavily against this and use its influence in the trade union movement to mobilise workers against xenophobia.

At present the party is dominated by Numsa members. It needs to open the gates.

Many excellent community and trade union activists are justifiably suspicious of party formations. To overcome this the SRWP will need to show respect for democracy, differences and minority views.

South Africa urgently needs a party of struggle and socialism.


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