From: South Africa's Radical Tradition, a documentary history, Volume One 1907 - 1950, by Allison Drew

Document 47 - "International Communist League Formed in South Africa", International Bulletin of the International Communist League, New Series, 2, September 1934

(We have received the following letter from our newly constituted Communist League of South Africa. -Ed.)

Dear Comrades:

The Bolshevist Leninist League of Johannesburg, which held its first meeting as a formally constituted group in April 1934, has instructed me to get into touch with the Militant, with a view to affiliating our group to the Fourth International.'" Since it is as readers of the Militant that most of us were drawn together, we turn naturally to you for assistance in building up a South African section of the Fourth International. Our group consists at present of twelve members, five of whom are Africans, the rest Europeans.

You will probably be interested to learn what became of the previous group which communicated with you. It finally collapsed through lack of experience, of political leadership and of perspectives. Our comrades made an attempt to revive the group. At first this was not successful but we did establish a training class for African workers, it has continued for more than a year and is now part of our present activities.

It is with circumspection that we now approach you; there is, of course, no guarantee that our group will not suffer the same ignominious collapse as its predecessor. We can only hope to demonstrate our sincerity and theoretical soundness by our future activities. Our activities up to the present have been restricted to hammering out a program at League meetings held once a week, besides such training classes, weekly lectures, study circles, fraction work - in trade unions and other workers organizations - as our severely limited material and human resources permit. We are also tackling the task of organized African workers, a task which the C.P.S.A., with its bureaucratic regime and Comintern leadership has not only failed to inaugurate, but has rendered even more difficult. We have begun with the native bakery and laundry workers.

We also hope to publish a monthly duplicated bulletin in the very near future and are preparing a declaration of our program and principles for publication in the first issue. We hope to increase our membership considerably upon the appearance of this bulletin.

We have written to the Lenin Club, Cape Town, and have received formal acknowledgment of receipt of our letters and the promise of a detailed reply at a later date, but up to the present no discussion has taken place between us.

During the recent period our trade union committee has held a series of factory gate meetings at the laundries which employ on the Rand about a thousand native workers.

As a result of these meetings, a general meeting at which nearly all the laundries were represented, was held in June, and a new African union formed, the last union having disintegrated after the expulsion of its crooked secretary. The secretary and organizer of the new union are excellent militants. At this general meeting the Stalinists were decisively rejected by the workers. Our efforts are now bent towards ensuing a correct policy for the laundry workers union by building up the Bolshevik-Leninist fraction within the union. We have also tackled the task of reorganizing the native bakery workers. Leaflets are being issued and contacts made. We fear that the bakers' union, however, will present immensely greater difficulties than the laundry workers union and it is not unlikely that we may fail in this task owing to the many adverse factors.

We enclose a copy of our draft constitution to be formally adopted upon affiliation to the Fourth International; and a copy of a letter to the Political Bureau of the C.P.S.A. submitted in April 1934 and followed by the immediate expulsions from the party of Comrades ... for open "Trolskyist" activities." These expelled comrades are now members of the League.

                                                                                                                                   With revolutionary greetings,