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Democratic Socialist Movement (South Africa)

Democratic Socialist Movement
Founded 2002
Headquarters Johannesburg, South Africa
Newspaper Izwi labasebenzi
(We are the Workers)
Ideology Marxism
Political position Far-left
National affiliation Workers and Socialist Party
International affiliation Committee for a Workers' International
Colours Red
Politics of South Africa
Political parties

The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) is a South Africa, affiliated to the Committee for a Workers' International, and a founding member of the Workers and Socialist Party (WASP).


  • History 1
  • Marikana Massacre and Mine Workers Strike (2012) 2
  • Formation of the Workers and Socialist Party (2012) 3
  • Threats to DSM Member 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


The Democratic Socialist Movement was historically known as the Marxist Workers' tendency of the African National Congress and was formed by activists who had helped build independent trade unions and participated in the 1973 KwaZulu-Natal strikes.[1] Members of the MWT included Nimrod Sejake,[2] Zackie Achmat, Mark Heywood and Martin Legassick.[1]

The MWT was launched after Martin Legassick and others were expelled from the ANC in 1979.[3] In 1981 they began publishing the journal Inqaba Ya Basebenzi (Fortress of the Workers) from exile in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Four members of the MWT were expelled from the ANC at the 16 June 1985 ANC Consultative Conference in Zambia.[4] In 1989 it started producing the newspaper Congress Militant.

Former members of the MWT were involved in a number of the most significant social movements in post-apartheid South Africa with Zackie Achmat being a founder of the Treatment Action Campaign and Martin Legassick working closely with the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, Abahlali baseMjondolo (Cape Town branch) and being a founder of the Democratic Left Front.

Both the African National Congress and the South African Communist Party, often described as a Stalinist party, have been highly critical of the MWT.[5][6]

The DSM was refounded in October 2002 at a conference of 45 people held on the 5th and 6th of that month at the University of Durban-Westville.[7]

Marikana Massacre and Mine Workers Strike (2012)

After the massacre of striking mine workers in Marikana, Rustenburg on Thursday 16 August, the DSM were heavily involved in supporting the struggles of miners there and elsewhere in South Africa. Two days after the shooting of the 34 miners, the local DSM branch in Matebeleng supported a protest by 100 miners wives demanding to see their husbands, brothers and sons who they had been denied access to after the shootings[8]

The DSM helped to co-ordinate the linking up of independent strike committees throughout the Rustenburg region and the country as a whole,[9][10] helping to establish the Rustenburg Joint Strike Coordinating Committee which held the first meeting of the National Strike Coordinating Committee, chaired by DSM member Mametlwe Sebei.[11][12]

Because of their role in helping lead the strikes, DSM members have been the subject of criticism from Cosatu General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi[13] and NUM Regional Co-ordinator Madoda Sambatha, as well as being subject to detention by mine security.[14]

The DSM has been to the fore in arguing that the mines should be nationalised under workers control and management.[15] The DSM also argues that a new workers' party is needed to challenge the ANC government.[16]

Formation of the Workers and Socialist Party (2012)

In December 2012 the DSM announced the formation of the Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) and its intention to contest elections.[17] WASP was officially launched on 21 March 2013, and the DSM is now a WASP affiliate.[18]

Threats to DSM Member

Gwede Mantashe blamed 'foreigners', including DSM member Liv Shange, for the Marikana strikes and threatened to deport her.[19] The DSM responded by calling Mantashe's statement "reckless", "irresponsible" and a "disgrace".[20]

See also


  1. ^ a b Mine workers' hope lies in mass action - Retrieved 23/10/12
  2. ^ Taaffe, P. (1994) South Africa: From Slavery to Apartheid London: Militant Labour
  3. ^ Legassick, M, "Debating the revival of the workers' movement in the 1970s: the South African democracy education trust and post-apartheid patriotic history", Kronos (Bellville), vol.34 no.1, Cape Town nov. 2008,
  4. ^ Attack on ANC Marxists is an attack on ANC's socialist youth, Inqaba ya Basebenzi, February 1986, Issue 16/17 pg.82 - Retrieved 17/12/09
  5. ^ Defeat the resurgence of the workerist tendency, ANC Today, 2007
  6. ^ Statement of the SACP on the recent launch of the ANC voters network.
  7. ^ "Democratic Socialist Movement conference" - Retrieved 23/10/12
  8. ^ "Marikana Massacre, the struggles continues" - Retrieved 23/10/12
  9. ^ "South Africa: Wildcat Strike Movement May Birth New Political Party" - Retrieved 23/10/12
  10. ^ "Mine workers' hope lies in mass action" - Retrieved 23/10/12
  11. ^ "Rustenburg workers host first meeting of national strike committee meeting" - Retrieved 23/10/12
  12. ^ "Striking miners take an important step forward" - Retrieved 23/10/12
  13. ^ " Wildcat strikers’ strategy suicidal" - Retrieved 23/10/12
  14. ^ "Anglogold miners throw stones at Vavi" - Retrieved 23/10/12
  15. ^ "New movement threatens mines" - Retrieved 23/10/12
  16. ^ Martin Plaut (9 November 2012). Militant Tendency sends shivers through South Africa, New Statesman. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  17. ^ Wasp: Party with a sting in its tail is going mainstream, by Niren Tolsi, Mail & Guardian, 11 January 2012
  18. ^ Marikana a political watershed, claims Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) at launch - Retrieved 01-04-2013
  19. ^ Gwede’s Swedish diplomatic row, LOYISO SIDIMBA AND CANDICE BAILEY, Sunday Independent, 23 June 2013
  20. ^ MINING STRIKE, DSM AND WASP ACTIVIST LIV SHANGE FACES DEPORTATION, by Weizmann Hamilton, Democratic Socialist Movement, 25 June 2013

External links

  • DISA Archive of Inqaba Ya Basebenzi
  • Website of the Democratic Socialist Movement
  • Website of the Workers and Socialists Party
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