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Lieu Et Forme De Pouvoir

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In 1994 the South African Communist Party (SACP) was not an independent political entity, but a strong faction within the ANC, where its members held important leadership positions. Former party leaders, Joe Slovo and Chris Hani, for example, had both served as chief of staff of the ANC's military wing and on its most important committees. The SACP won strong representation in the National Assembly in 1994, not by participating openly in the April 1994 elections, but by having SACP members well represented among delegates from the ANC.

The SACP was originally founded as the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) in July 1921 in Cape Town. The CPSA was formed out of the merger of several leftist organizations, including the International Socialist League (ISL), the Social Democratic Federation, the Durban Marxist Club, the Cape Communist Party, and the Jewish Socialist Society. The CPSA affiliated with the Communist International (Comintern), headquartered in Moscow, which provided it with political direction, although some party factions opposed Moscow's intervention in South African affairs.

Although whites dominated the party in the 1920s, some CPSA leaders attempted to strengthen its reputation as an indigenous communist organization by increasing its African membership and orientation. David Ivon Jones and Sidney Percival Bunting, formerly of the ISL, translated the concept of social revolution into a struggle for a "black republic" and a "democratic native republic, with equal rights for all races." The major stumbling block they encountered was the belief, inherent in Marxist dogma, that all workers fundamentally share the same interests. In South Africa, white workers generally felt they had little in common with their black counterparts and feared that any improvements for black workers would reduce their own status and income.

Despite efforts at Africanization, the CPSA failed to establish strong ties with black political organizations, many of which were dominated by traditional tribal leaders. In 1928, for example, the ANC denounced the "fraternization" between the ANC and the CPSA. ANC President James T. Gumede was removed from office in 1930, after trying to educate ANC members about Marxism. Even as the CPSA gradually succeeded in recruiting more black members, its leadership continued to be white. For this reason, two ANC Youth League leaders in the 1940s--Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu--opposed any alliance between the ANC and the CPSA at that time.

CPSA members were divided over the increasing Comintern intervention in local affairs. Moscow urged the CPSA and all communist parties to continue to be small, revolutionary elite organizations, and to rid the party of alleged "rightist" elements. In 1931 a new Stalinist faction, led by Douglas Wolton, Molly Wolton, and Lazar Bach, assumed leadership roles in the CPSA and proceeded to purge the party of many white leaders. In the internal upheaval that followed, the party lost black support, too, and weakened its ties to labor. As its leadership ranks were "Stalinized" and leading party activists fled the country, CPSA membership dropped from an estimated 1,750 members in 1928 to about 150 in 1933. Racial divisions continued to exist between the predominantly white leadership and the largely black membership ranks.

At the outset

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