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Dirk Kotze: Does the Upsurge in SACP Membership Indicate that the Left is Gaining Momentum?

Against All OddsDirk Kotze, one of the contributors to Against All Odds: Opposition Political Parties in Southern Africa edited by Hussein Solomon, recently wrote an article for The Conversation about the upsurge in the popularity of communism in South Africa.

In the article, Kotze compares the recent growth of the South African Communist Party with the ANC and Cosatu, the other two organisations in the tripartite alliance that governs so much of South Africa’s political landscape. He briefly sums up the recent history of the organisation and the significance of its membership fluctuations and what it means for right now.

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The South African Communist Party reported an upsurge in membership at its recent 3rd special congress. Its membership now stands at about 220 000.

Does this indicate that the Left is gaining momentum or is it only a cyclical spike?

The SACP’s membership has gone through cycles over the years reflecting important political developments (see table below). A comparison suggests that these figures are still relatively small weighed against those of its partners in South Africa’s governing alliance that brings together the communist party, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the African National Congress, which leads the alliance.

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