We are still in the aftermath of the mass food riots that rocked townships across the KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng in mid-July and that captured the South African public’s imagination.
Much has been said by all sections of society to try to understand the events of those days. Most, including supposedly working class organisations of the Left, have categorically condemned the actions of the working class as ‘criminal’ and ‘reactionary’. But those who are quick to condemn the working class as ‘looters’ fail to recognise the victory won through this protest action against imposed starvation.
While it may not be apparent at first glance, it is a victory that after months and months of the state’s blatant refusal to reinstate the measly R350 Social Relief and Distress (SRD) COVID-19 grant, a mere two weeks after the food rebellions took place, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the SRD grant would be reinstated until March 2022.
The working class claiming this reinstatement as a victory must not be misread as agreement that R350 is at all enough to practically cover anyone’s basic needs in a month. Instead this victory must be seen as a tool to build the confidence of the working class in itself, and in its ability to organise a sustained and victorious struggle.
So as the SASSA registration process begins for 9 million eligible grant recipients (a process that is guaranteed to systemically exclude many of these people), let us remember that the fundamental task of the Left in South Africa is not to condemn the working class for rising up in resistance. The fundamental task of the Left is to mobilise the working class to make sure this victory is realised, to assist in claiming this victory practically and harnessing it to build the confidence and organisation the working class needs to wage a war against the arrogant ruling class of South Africa.
Yours In Solidarity.
This article was originally written by the Karibu! Editorial Team on 12 August 2021, for the Karibu! Hardcopy edition. It was then amended later for the Karibu! Whatsapp edition released on 15 August 2021. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (www.Karibu.org.za), and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.