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"The left movement outside the South African Communist Party is weak, fragmented and disorganised," said Mazibuko Jara, former South African Community Party (SACP) spokesperson and editor of Amandla magazine during a public dialogue at Rhodes University on Thursday.
"The majority of the people in South Africa still look up to the ANC as their only hope and anyone who wants to start a new left party must take this into account," he said.
According to Jara, a new left wing political party must try to mobilise as many people as possible and unite all the left organisations in the country.
Jara, together with Vishwas Satgar, a former Gauteng provincial secretary of the SACP, are leading an initiative to establish a new left political party in South Africa because of the dissatisfaction with the SACP's leadership.
They are attempting to organise people at grassroots level to fight for a socialist agenda. Left wing political organisations are opposed to economic policies which favour business interests and have been at the forefront of the struggle of the poorer sections of the society and workers trying to gain access to jobs and basic social services.
According to Jara the need to form a new left political organisation would not have arisen if the SACP had not abandoned its programme of mobilising people on the ground and instead using the state as a means to organise people, as they have done since the alliance with the ANC.
He says a new left political party needs to ensure that it gets people more involved in the democratic process and educates people to shift their focus from protest politics by building the ability of the people to think and act for themselves.
He believes that the ANC is still facing the same crisis as before the Polokwane conference when the leaders of the ANC and its alliance partners- the SACP and Cosatu- accused each other in the media of interference in internal affairs.
Satgar agreed saying that the "space for democratic debate in the SACP has been closed" and the state power debate for the SACP to contest elections was suppressed at the last SACP conference, despite the fact that it found favour with most of the delegates.
"The new left political party would not be built around opposition to the ANC," he said. Michelle Williams, a senior lecturer at Wits University made a comparison of the state of participatory democracy between South Africa and the Indian state of Kerala.
"In South Africa decisions are only made and implemented by government, and the people are not actively involved in the process whereas in Kerala, India the people take an active part in government through their community, co-operatives and street organisations."
She said that South Africa could learn from this state which has been ruled by the Communist Party of India and which succeeded to develop the state through redistribution and participatory democracy.
Jara and Satgar, who are leading the initiative of the Conference for a Democratic Left will call a national consultative forum of all the left organisations early next year.
The dialogue was held in the memory of the late Daily Dispatch political reporter, Msimelelo Njwabane, who collapsed and died unexpectedly in September. A moment of silence was observed in his memory.