WSF (1999):“Voting is your right but have NO ILLUSIONS IN PARLIAMENT”

WSF (1999): “Voting is your right but have NO ILLUSIONS IN PARLIAMENT”

From Workers Solidarity, magazine of the Workers Solidarity Federation, volume 5, number 1, second quarter 1999. Complete PDF is here


The WSF supports the right to vote. Working class people fought and died for this right. Any working class person should be free to vote for whoever they want. It is better to live under a democratic government than under the apartheid government. But we must have no illusions in the parliamentary system. As we have seen after nearly 5 years under this sort of government, parliament cannot be trusted. Even the best comrades sent to government have changed drastically.


This is for a simple reason. The “sweet life” of parliamentary ease changes the best person. Comrades from the working-class movement get high salaries, many cars, and fancy houses. They start to look and think like the bosses. Therefore they start to act like the bosses, and agree to measure after measure which is against the workers. For example, privatisation. Secondly, the government structures as a whole are unresponsive to the workers. The day-to-day running of the government is totally outside the control of the working class. Decisions are made at the top by officials and professional politicians, and then transmitted downwards. We are not even consulted. For example, if you work for the municipal services, you will just get told that so many workers are being laid off. At no point do you have a say in this decision.


And the decisions made at the top are always decisions that serve the interests of the bosses. The bosses control the economy, and therefore the government always tries to accommodate them. Therefore, if the bosses want less tax then the government will cut taxes to keep the bosses happy. But because they look and think like bosses, the politicians have no problem making such decisions. For example, Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi from the South African Communist Party is in charge of the Department of Welfare. One of her Department’s main actions was to cut the subsidy to single mothers. Previously this was a racially discriminatory subsidy, with whites getting R350 a month. Instead of giving all single mothers R350 a month, Fraser-Moleketi’s Department gave everyone a useless R100 a month. This policy was not consulted with the working class. We learnt about it in the newspapers. This policy is one that makes the bosses very happy because extending R350 a month subsidies to all single mothers would require government to raise money by increasing tax on the bosses. Therefore the government prefers that poor single mothers suffer than to see the bosses lose money.


Workers should not have any illusions in the government. The way forward is to organise to defend our interests as the working class in the unions, not to place our faith in politicians promises and the ballot box. Only through mass struggle can we challenge the anti-worker policies of the bosses and the government.