Rebecca Bunting

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Biographical information


Founding member of the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA)

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Rebecca Bunting (nee Notlowitz) was one of the founders of the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) in the 1920s. She was a Jewish immigrant from the Baltic who came to South Africa on the eve of the First World War.

In December 1916, Rebecca married Sidney Percival Bunting. They had two sons– Arthur and Brian.

Rebecca, together with her husband, attended the Congress of the Communist International in Moscow in 1922.  

A rift occurred with the introduction of the Party slogan "an independent Native republic, as a stage towards a workers' and peasants' government". The Buntings laboured for the creation of a Party inclusive of White workers, but were labeled as “White chauvinists”. They defended their stance fiercely while in Moscow, but to no avail.

In July 1928, the Buntings joined up with Edward Roux in London, and together attended the Sixth Congress in Moscow. They put forward a report representing the majority of members of the Party, but a minority report was sent by Douglas Wolton and his wife, their idea supported by James La Guma – in favour of the contentious slogan. Upon their return they were met, once again, with fierce resistance.

In June 1929, Rebecca Bunting was arrested while campaigning in Transkei, together with her husband and Gana Makabeni. They were charged under the "Native Administration Act" for speeches made at a meeting and, in the case of Mrs Bunting, for distributing Imperialism in South Africa. All three were convicted by Chief Magistrate Welsh – Sidney Bunting to 50 pounds or six months' hard labour, and Rebecca and Makabeni to 30 pounds or three months' each. They managed to bail themselves out and continued with the campaign and scored a great success for the CPSA when Bunting (who stood as parliamentary candidate in Transkei) won a number of recruits to the CPSA.

• South African Communist Party,timeline 1870-1993. Available at Accessed on 9 October 2013.
• < Roux, E. Sidney Percival Bunting. Available at Accessed on 9 October 2013.

Last updated : 09-Dec-2013

This article was produced by South African History Online on 05-Apr-2012

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