||Vishwas Satgar runs workshop on the United Front approach, 30 January
|Centre for Civil Society Workshop: all welcome, at Memorial Tower Building (6th floor - entry through main lobby) at UKZN's Howard College Campus
TITLE: The state of civil society and the United Front approach
PRESENTER: Vishwas Satgar
DATE: 30 January 2014
TIME: 1:30-4pm (NOTE NEW TIME)
Last month the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa called for a United Front approach to alliance building, in the wake of their decision to leave the Alliance of trade unions, the SA Communist Party and ruling African National Congress, on grounds of the latter's adoption of neoliberal policies. But what kinds of policies would be more appropriate for the society, what kinds of struggles are underway across South Africa, how can trade unions reunite with allies in communities, how can civil society generate a more coherent progressive ideology, and what implications do these developments have for politics more broadly, and for the Left in particular?
Vishwas Satgar is senior lecturer in international relations at Wits University and an influential author and commentator. He is also a founder of the Cooperative and Policy Alternative Centre ( http://www.copac.org.za/) which promotes cooperative sector institutions in South Africa and the rest of Africa.
Red tide rising: Numsa in attack mode
Ranjeni Munusamy South Africa 27 January 2014
Elections 2014 will come and go, the ANC will be top of the pops, and a new bag of Liquorice Allsorts will fill the parliamentary benches. The great shake-up in South African politics looks set to happen after the elections – and metalworkers’ union Numsa is set to play a big role in the new alignment. Numsa and a group of other Cosatu unions will put their federation on notice this week on a number of issues.
Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim is also taking on the government’s enforcer, Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa, for police killings during protest marches. And even before the split in Cosatu happens, workers from other sectors are seeking to join the Numsa movement. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
On Saturday the Democratic Alliance (DA) announced its candidate lists for the national and provincial elections. DA leader Helen Zille says her line-up is a “fantastic mix” of experience and new blood. Many of the candidates have impressive qualifications, and several are professionals. If there were a Survivor series to determine who best represents South Africa’s middle class, these people could all be contestants. They would not, however, be found forming a human shield between the police and the protesters in Mothutlung. They, like everyone else, would be able to go and pay their respects to the bereaved after the fact.
But who speaks for the communities erupting in anger all over South Africa, demanding basic services and decent living conditions? So far, Julius Malema has been unchallenged in using communities in rebellion as his campaign turf. From Marikana to Mothutlung, Malema has been able to use tragedy and police killings to focus public anger on the state apparatus and the ruling party.
Largely, though, community protest action comes from the ground up. There is no organised force leading the protests or channelling the messages. This is the gap available to the “united front” envisaged by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), and where real opposition to the ANC is possible. In the context of poverty and unemployment levels, the seething anger amongst neglected communities, and the disconnect between the ANC and its traditional constituencies, an organised working class formation could resonate.
Numsa resolved at its special congress in December to research setting up a workers party or social movement which would either contest future elections or mobilise communities and workers as an organised force. The congress also resolved not to support the ANC in the 2014 elections and called for President Jacob Zuma’s resignation in light of the series of scandals which beset his administration.
A month after its special congress, Numsa is flexing its muscle. And giving pointers as to where it is heading.
The metalworkers’ union is holding a week-long political school in Kempton Park this week, being attended by 150 shop-stewards and Numsa activists. Addressing the opening session, Numsa president Andrew Chirwa said that, following its special congress, Numsa has been inundated with letters and messages from organisations supporting its resolutions, including the call for Zuma to resign.
“We love the alliance – or we used to love them – and we love the African National Congress. But what we don’t love is the African National Congress that sells the working class people and the poor cheap to the bourgeoisie. That is what we are not happy about… We can’t be sold on a plate like pap and vleis.”
Numsa was also receiving requests from workers across sectors wanting to join the metalworkers’ union, Chirwa said.
Cosatu has advocated for its affiliates to organise in their own sectors and has discouraged crossovers. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has been aggrieved about Numsa encroaching on its territory and this has been the source of tension between the two unions. If Numsa starts accepting members from other sectors, it could deepen the battles within Cosatu.
Daily Maverick understands that the transport and allied workers union Satawu is already furious about its members defecting to Numsa. Satawu and Numsa are on opposite sides of the divide in Cosatu.
But Numsa is on a militant path, and does not care about upsetting the apple cart in Cosatu. The federation’s president S’dumo Dlamini said last week that Cosatu had requested a meeting with Numsa to discuss its congress resolutions. Chirwa was emphatic that Numsa would remain defiant and would not bow to pressure from the Cosatu leadership.
He said there was a campaign to suspend Numsa at Cosatu’s next central executive committee because its positions were in conflict with those of the federation.
“There is pressure for us to succumb to a group who call themselves leaders of the federation… As we speak, we are being invited to account to a group to explain whether we will pursue the outcomes of the special congress. We must come and account, affirm whether we will implement our resolutions. How can you ask us such a question when congress has pronounced?” Chirwa said.
Chirwa slammed the Cosatu leadership for not convening a special congress, as had been demanded by nine affiliates led by Numsa. “If you can’t present yourself to your own constituency in a special congress, you have no credibility. We are getting the run-around. How can you call yourself a leader when you are running away from your own constituency?”
Chirwa hinted that the camp defending suspended Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi could assemble without the federation’s leaders. “Perhaps we must think about convening our own. We must engage unions who called for a special congress with ourselves. We must think hard, comrades.”
Daily Maverick has learnt that the nine Cosatu affiliates which called for the special congress will be meeting this week. The intention is to put a list of demands to the federation’s leaders, including that the disciplinary charges against Vavi be dropped immediately and that a special Cosatu congress be convened without delay.
This move is likely to deepen the rupture within Cosatu.
Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said the resolutions of the union’s special congress had rattled many cages. He said some people think that the resolutions meant that Numsa would cease to be a trade union and become a political party.
“No. We will be a catalyst,” Jim said. “What is old and dying must die. What is new must be born.”
He said the past 20 years had been “hollow” for the working class and ANC leaders have become arrogant because they know there was no serious alternative for workers to vote for.
“In every election, the Freedom Charter is a beautiful mirage. I heard people are saying they want a two-thirds majority. For what?” Jim said, referring to recent utterances by Zuma that the ANC needs to win the elections by a two-thirds majority to be able to make radical changes in the country.
But Jim said workers had been consistently lied to and the alliance had been “captured and taken over by right-wing forces”. “We are launching a very serious process, we are not going to allow the working class to be abused,” he said.
Jim also warned Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa that police killings of protestors would no longer be tolerated.
“The police are not our friends, they represent something called the state. There is a minister of police… who always speaks after our people have been killed… When people are dead, commissions are appointed,” he said.
“The time has come to communicate our right to protest and demonstrate. Those rights shall not be taken away by Nathi Mthethwa and that lady (National Police commissioner Riah Phiyega)… We must give a very stern warning to Nathi, we are not going to tolerate any police killing from now.”
The statements by Numsa’s leaders indicate that they are mapping out the terrain from where they will mount their battle and that the ANC and its leaders are the targets. While the rhetoric has always centred on white monopoly capital, they clearly see the ANC as being responsible for entrenching poverty and inequality.
While Malema has the field wide open in the upcoming election to wage war on the ruling party, Numsa is planning lead a new red tide to challenge the ruling party in future. While the structure of this formation is not yet defined, momentum is building towards a militant movement to the left of the ANC.
The one thing that is clear is that it is now impossible to reverse the realignment in Cosatu and the alliance. The noise levels are about to increase greatly and rumblings will not stop for a long time. What was true yesterday is not true today and could be totally false in near future.
The genie is out the bottle and, anyway, the bottle appears to be broken.
NUMSA Marxist-Leninist Political Schools
Mbuyiselo Ngwenda Brigade
“Capitalism & Its Gravediggers: Building a United Front to Resist Neoliberalism!”
Sunday 26 January – Sunday 2 February 2014
Module 2: NUMSA President Opening Speech: “Remembering Module 1 and where we are now!”
“The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living. And just when they seem engaged in revolutionising themselves and things, in creating something that has never yet existed, precisely in such periods of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirit of the past to their service and borrow from them names, battle cries and costumes in order to present the new scene of world history in this time-honoured disguise and this borrowed language…” (Karl Marx, 1984, Eighteenth Brumaire).”
Numsa Central Committee Members,
Numsa Head of Education Department,
School Resource Persons and Facilitators,
It is always good and pleasant to spend quality time to learn. It is even more important to learn, if the education one is getting is about the liberation of the working class from the yoke of capitalism.
Numsa regards both classical trade union education and training and political education very seriously. We are a constantly learning, training and skilling Marxist-Leninist trade union organisation.
Any organisation which refuses to prioritise education, training and skilling is an organisation doomed never to grow, and risks dying sooner than its normal life span.
I therefore, take this opportunity to ask all of us to take this Module 2 Numsa Marxist-Leninist Political School, focusing on the strategic theme: “Capitalism & Its Gravediggers: Building a United Front to Resist Neoliberalism” veryseriously.
This School is very important precisely because we want to use it to inform the work of our March 2014 Numsa Central Committee on how to speedily and effectively fast track the implementation of the historic Numsa 2013 Special Congress Resolutions and Declaration.
While being mindful that a Numsa Political School is not a constitutional structure, and therefore cannot take decisions on behalf of the Union, we must remember, all the time, during this School, that we are going to be focused on Marxist-Leninist theories and revolutionary practices which must assist our entire union to deepen our theoretical understanding and sharpen ourrevolutionary practice during our work to build a revolutionary working class united front and generate real momentum towards a Socialist Republic of South Africa!
Do not just sit and listen all the time. Do not be intimidated by ideas you may be hearing for the first time. Speak to express your views. Listen carefully to understand. Engage others on how best to act to advance the historic and revolutionary resolutions of the Numsa 2013 Special National Congress.
Broad Objectives of the Numsa Marxist-Leninist Political Schools and Mbuyi Ngwenda Brigade
Last year, after much careful thought and planning, Numsa took the decision to launch the Numsa Marxist-Leninist Political Schools and the Mbuyi Ngwenda Brigade. This happened from Friday 13th to Wednesday the 18th of September 2013.
Why did we do this?
At Numsa we must institutionalise Marxist-Leninist political education in order to equip the union to perform its historic mission, as a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist trade union, to effectively contribute to the struggle for the emancipation of the entire world working class from the yoke of capitalism andto win the fight for socialism.
We want to equip the union to meet its day to day challenges both at the place of work and in our communities. Marxist-Leninist ideas are useful and applicable everywhere, including in our collective bargaining work.
At Numsa, we respect the lived experience of the working class. In these schools, we want to exploit the extremely rich experience of workers bring this experience to enrich the learning processes.
Ultimately, of course, we are always mindful, as Lenin so well reminds us, that it is not possible to wage a successful revolution without a revolutionary theory!
Let me provoke the Education Department at this point. Ours are working class revolutionary political schools.
Participants do not necessarily attend these Schools because they have some disinterested academic interests in the theories and subjects the Schools deal with, without any desire to change the world in favour of the working class.
These participants and Numsa have an interest in the revolutionary reconstitution of the world. We want to destroy capitalism which reduces us to slaves and build a socialist world. This is the education we must get.
Recap of Module 1 and Launch of Schools and Brigade: 13 – 18 September 2013: “The Political Role of Trade Unions in the Struggle for Socialism”
Allow me, Comrades, to remind us that this is a School broken into “Modules”. During the Launch we went through Module 1.
The theme of Module 1 was “The Political Role of Trade Unions in the Struggle for Socialism.”
In Module 1, we dealt with the following:
South African traditions and practices of political education in trade unions – this part highlighted how education was conducted even under the repressive Apartheid capitalist regime.
Numsa principles of workers education – here we emphasised our respect for utilising to the fullest the living experienced of workers in the education process.
Who was Mbuyi? Participants were taught who Mbuyi was, his values and why we have decided to call the Numsa Brigade after him.
Building Marxism – Marxism is not some hard and cut dogmatic body of knowledge and formulas. This part emphasised the need to regard Marxism as a growing scientific body of knowledge and political practice which must be constantly enriched by human practice.
What is Marxism? Here we use Lenin and his Three Sources and Component Parts of Marxism to explain and discuss the origins and rich content of Marxism.
Marxism-Leninism as the dominant working class ideology and programme in the 20th Century – Comrades will remember that here we focused on how Marxism-Leninism came to be the dominant working class ideology of the 20th Century, and we discussed some of the revolutionary experiences of the working class.
Marx’s influence in the 20th Century – this part reminded us that Marxism is all round – it is applicable in all spheres of human life including in the sciences, culture, art, environment, gender and so on.
Working class movements: the trade union – we dealt with the evolution and history of working class organisations including the origins of the trade union movement.
The South African working class movement up to the birth of Cosatu
Marxism and the Sociology of trade unions: here we discussed the role of trade unions in the struggle for socialism.
Numsa and “isms” labelled against it: this part helped us to understand the class basis and origins of some of the terms that are thrown at Numsa, and to equip us to defend ourselves.
Neo-colonialism – working through Frantz Fanon, we discussed how and why the national liberation movements may fail to consummate the national liberation revolution, and what happens afterwards.
Unions and politics in Africa – here we explored the many permutations trade unions have used on the continent to relate to the political processes in their countries.
Origins of the ANC-COSATU-SACP Alliance
State of the Alliance
Roadmap to Numsa Special Congress
Participants will not fail to note the relevancy of Module 1 to the economic and political context in which the Module was delivered.
Declaration and Resolutions of the Numsa Special National Congress: The dawn of a new era in working class struggles in South Africa!
This Numsa Marxist-Leninist Political School will engage with the Numsa Special National Congress Resolutions with a view to enhancing Numsa’s capacity to implement the Resolutions.
We expect this School to theoretically enrich us, thereby enabling us to move very confidently, and with speed, to implement all the Resolutions of our Special Congress.
The Resolutions of our Special Congress are a material and concrete expression of the experiences of the working class in South Africa today, and they carry the revolutionary socialist aspirations of the majority of South African workers.
No one can temper with Numsa Congress Resolutions. Only a Numsa Congress can do so. Our responsibility now is to move swiftly to implement the Resolutions.
The role of the political schools is to sharpen our theoretical tools and ideological abilities to implement the Resolutions of Congress.
I trust that our Central Committee this coming March will benefit greatly from the outputs of this Module.
We must learn from the past. This School will tackle a very rich aspect of the history of world and South African popular democratic and working class organisations and their political struggles, in the fight for a socialist world.
We will learn and debate our own United Democratic Front, for example, in order to inform our work in the creation of a united front.
Only fools fail to read the past carefully in order to enrich their understanding ofthe present and inform the future.
We must, however, avoid the lazy temptation to romanticise or demonise the past, in a cheap, dull and uninformed effort to reproduce the past, in our revolutionary present.
We are involved in a real time revolution here. We must invent our own future from our past and informed by our actual current struggles. Marx ably says the following, about the past:
“The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living. And just when they seem engaged in revolutionising themselves and things, in creating something that has never yet existed, precisely in such periods of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirit of the past to their service and borrow from them names, battle cries and costumes in order to present the new scene of world history in this time-honoured disguise and this borrowed language…” (Karl Marx, 1984,Eighteenth Brumaire).
While learning from the past, we must refuse to be imprisoned by it.
We must not be afraid to confront the truth about our present reality.
We must not be afraid to walk into our own future.
This is our responsibility as revolutionaries: to bravely create and walk new paths!
26 January 2014.
History of all hitherto existing society is the history of all class struggles
Irvin Jim's GS address to Political School
26 January 2014
Structure of the Presentation
•Why the working class needs to organise itself as a class for itself
•Why existing forms of organisation of the working class are not adequate
•Summary of what we understand the NDR to be about
•How the Freedom Charter has been abandoned
• Critique of ANC Vision 2014 and 2014 Manifesto
•Why Numsa’s resolutions are correct
The working class must consciously organise itself as a class if it is to lead the democratic revolution
•Marxism-Leninism teaches us that, at all material times, we must fiercely defend the political independence of the proletariat from petit-bourgois and bourgeois influences, if the proletariat is to lead the democratic revolution.
•Hence, as Lenin said, “the proletariat can play the leading part in this (democratic) revolution only if it is welded into a united and independent political force under the banner of the Social-Democratic Labour Party, which is to guide its struggle not only ideologically but practically as well”.
•The Communist Manifesto states: “All previous historical movements were movements of minorities, or in the interest of minorities. The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority”.
•Lenin says: “In a word, in order to avoid finding itself with its hands tied in the struggle against the inconsistent bourgeois democrats, the proletariat must be sufficiently class conscious and strong to rouse the peasantry to revolutionary consciousness, to direct its attack, and thereby to pursue the line of consistent proletarian democratism independently”.
By calling for the political independence of the working class we do not reject class alliances
•However the most important precondition for any class alliance is the complete, separate, party political independence of the working class from bourgeois and petit-bourgeois political influences.
•Our tactic should be that we “strike jointly” with our class allies, but we march completely separately! The independence of the working class must be guarded jealously even against the most friendly among the petit-bourgeoisie and bourgeoisie.
•Lenin makes this absolutely clear in his Two Tactics, when he says: “A Social-Democrat must never for a moment forget that the proletariat will inevitably have to wage the class struggle for Socialism even against the most democratic and republican bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie. This is beyond doubt. Hence the absolute necessity of a separate, independent, strictly class party of Social-Democracy. Hence the temporary nature of our tactics of striking jointly with the bourgeoisie and the duty of keeping a strict watch over our ally, as over an enemy, etc.
The Numsa Special National Congress said the current Alliance with the ANC and the SACP is not taking us forward towards Socialism
•In the struggle against apartheid, the working class was striking jointly with the democratic black petit-bourgeoisie and sections of the democratic bourgeoisie, but the political independence of the working class is now being dissolved into bourgeois democracy.
•This is the kernel of the perspective that was articulated by the Numsa Special National Congress when it said: “The Alliance has been captured and taken over by right-wing forces. Those who are perceived to be against neo-liberalism or to be advocates of policies in favour of the working class and the poor are seen as problematic, isolated or purged”.
•We saw the Alliance, particularly the ANC, refusing to nationalise the mines, monopoly industries and the banks and the SACP, after some flip-flops, finally endorsed the SIMS report, which was commissioned by the ANC and paid for by the Chamber of Mines. The SACP endorsed this report which says nationalisation will lead to unmitigated economic disaster.
•For more than 20 years, the apartheid labour market has not been transformed. Year in year out a series of Employment Equity Reports show that the white population continues to control the economy and the wage structure remains racist and colonial. There is no equal pay for work of equal value.
•The little progress we achieved in the Labour Relations Act is now seen as a threat to jobs and labour brokers have not been banned.
Without a political party committed to Socialism in theory and practice, the working class will not be independent
•There are those who say Numsa is wrong to have taken a resolution that the working class must abandon the ANC-led Alliance. They say that we risk splitting the democratic movement and entrenching the right wing. They say the Numsa resolution will secure victories to our class enemies and imperialist forces will win the day.
•The Numsa leadership in particular, was accused of working with imperialist forces to weaken and ultimately overthrow the national liberation movement. This is what is being pontificated by some “advanced quarters”.
•Here is a fact: Already the enemy class, white monopoly capital, has been celebrating for the victories it has scored under the ANC-led Alliance. They managed to send money abroad through capital flight because of dismantling of exchange controls, financial speculation has rapidly increased, and South Africa is used as an imperialist base to re-colonise the continent.
•The major banks are foreign-owned, all mines are foreign-owned, big monopolies such as Iscor (Arcelor-Mittal and Kumba Iron Ore Mines), SASOL, pharmaceuticals and forestry companies are foreign-owned, etc. The economy is more foreign-owned now than under apartheid.
Imperialist domination has accelerated its grip on the South African economy.
•The financial sector: Dominated by 4 large privately owned banks (ABSA, Nedbank, FNB and Standard Bank). ABSA is 56% foreign-owned, Standard Bank is at least 40% foreign owned. The Reserve Bank privately owned.
•SASOL is about 30% foreign-owned and Arcelor-Mittal is 65% foreign owned.
•The pharmaceuticals sector:is Dominated by foreign-owned Aspen, Adcock-Ingram, Sanofi, Pfizer, Norvatis, etc. have all significant foreign-ownership. Today these companies are blackmailing the country and the minister is accusing them of genocide and chemical warfare. As the working class we should ask: what happened to the 100% state-owned pharmaceutical company that we called for?
•Telecommunications: The Thintana Telkom Deal in 1997 (Malaysians and Americans), which led to massive job losses in Telkom from 67 000 to 25 000, has left the country poorer and in a worse socio-economic position.
•The construction sector is also monopolised, dominated by four players: Murray & Roberts, WBHO, Aveng and Group 5, with foreign ownership.
•These facts, which are just the tip of an iceberg, show that our enemy class is already much more jubilant about what has transpired since 1994. Is the ANC manifesto in any way changing these power relations in the economy?
Even the Vision 2014 announced in 2004 that was promised to the working class has not been fulfilled, and the current ANC Manifesto adds promises on top of broken ones
•Reduce unemployment by half: In 2004 the unemployment rate was 23%, but in 2013 it had risen to 24.7%. In 2004 the number of unemployed was 3.7 million, but in 2013 it had risen to 4.1 million.
•Reduce poverty by half: In 2004 the number of social grant recipients was 7.8 million, but in 2011 the number of social grant recipients had risen to 15.5 million. In 2004 the percentage of people living below R524 a month was 48%, but in 2011 this had increased to 52.3%. This means that in 2004 people who were living below R524 were 22 million, by 2011 this number had increased to 26.5 million.
•Provide the skills required by the economy: According to the Department of Labour’s National Scarce Skills List in 2008 the total skills shortage in the economy was 512 357 people, the Department of Higher Education and Training’s Skills Demand List reports that in 2012 the total skills shortage had increased to 1.7 million people.
•Someone even promised to eliminate informal settlements by 2014!
•Now we have a 2014 Manifesto that has yet another Vision 2030 of the NDP.
•As Numsa we are doing a thorough analysis of all the Manifestos since 1994.
The working class is not at the helm of the Alliance
•Colins Chabane is quoted as saying: The government is not in alliance with the Congress of SA Trade Unions. It is in alliance with the ANC”. He is further cited as saying that any conflict that arises over the NDP would be between the ANC and the COSATU, and would not involve government.
•Pravin Gordhan is quoted as saying: I think we make too much of alliance politics ... alliance politics doesn’t dominate all of the policy making and policy implementation in South Africa… It probably dominates the conversation in a few not unimportant areas, but they are few”.
•President Jacob Zuma is quoted as saying: “When, for an example, if labour believes it can co-govern, that’s the mistake, you can’t, because if that were the case it would be another system”.
•President of COSATU Sdumo Dlamini agrees that the working class cannot govern with the bourgeoisie, he is quoted as saying: That is true, we cannot co-govern with the ANC”. He forgot that we called for the Alliance to be the “political centre of power”.
•The general view is that organised workers should be consigned to the barracks of the shopfloor and emerge to only vote, after voting they must go back to the barracks. We cannot be “gumboots unions”.
•We say that the working class, in trade unions and outside of trade unions, must be independently welded into a political party through which it must govern. They must take keen interest in governing the country.
If anything, those who oppose the working class co-governing, prove that Numsa is correct to say
•In practice the Alliance is still in the hands of one alliance partner, the ANC. The ANC is the centre and implements government programmes and policies alone, with little or no consultation with other components of the Alliance.
•The treatment of labour as a junior partner within the Alliance is not uniquely a South African phenomenon. In many post-colonial and post-revolutionary situations, liberation and revolutionary movements have turned on labour movements that fought alongside them, suppressed them, marginalised them, split them, robbed them of their independence or denied them any meaningful role in politics and policy-making.
•As Numsa we have been detecting an abuse by the ANC of other Alliance partners. The alliance is used to rubber stamp neo-liberal policies of the ANC and not as a centre of power that debates policy issues and implementation.
•The Alliance operates and works during election periods and it is our experience that the working class is being used by the leader of the Alliance – the African National Congress (ANC) – as voting fodder.
•What we have just said about the Alliance was noted by the Numsa Special National Congress. Within ONE MONTH after our Special National Congress, we were told that we cannot co-govern, and indeed, true to form, the President of COSATU agrees that the working class cannot govern the country along side the bourgeoisie as a transitional situation towards full worker control!
Those who say Numsa is wrong to ditch the ANC-led Alliance must take heed of what Engels said in 1850
•Engels said: “The workers must not be led astray by the empty phrases of the democrats, who will maintain that the workers’ candidates will split the democratic party and offer the forces of reaction the chance of victory. All such talk means, in the final analysis, that the proletariat is to be swindled”.
•When we talk about the need for an independent vanguard party to champion the interests of the proletariat, we are being frightened that the Alliance will break.
•When we are inside the Alliance and say that the Alliance must be the political centre of policy formulation and implementation, we are rebuked that we cannot “co-govern”. We are told that we confuse “minimum and maximum” programmes, and that as trade unions we must go back to basics, which is focusing only on shopfloor issues and leave political power to the ANC.
•In this process of the working class being managed, poverty, unemployment and exploitation are rising.
•This is exactly what Engels warned the working class against, way back in 1850!
•Let us learn from history comrades, we are the industrial proletariat, we possess international experiences summarised in Marxist-Leninist theory
The NDR has never been the minimum programme of the ANC-Alliance, the Freedom Charter is the minimum programme
•President Zuma is quoted as saying: That is why in the alliance we use the term, a minimum programme of the alliance; it cannot be maximum. Now if all of us, whether in labour or in the ANC, failed to understand that difference, then we have a problem, because we are likely to overstretch issues that are not supposed to be overstretched and begin to think that in fact, as the labour movement, you begin to determine how the party, the government of the ANC, must continue governing and implementing policy. Of course it cannot happen”. And Sdumo agrees!
•ANC SG Gwede Mantashe says: “The tripartite alliance is an alliance between the national liberation movement and the two working class formations. These partners do not melt into an alliance and lose their class character and ideological outlook. They understand the National Democratic Revolution as the minimum programme. It is the preparedness to compromise that has made our unique alliance to work. We must continue working for the unity and cohesion of the alliance”.
•But the confusion seems to emanate from the SACP, when it says: “For the SACP a radical NDR is our minimum programme”.
•So the so-called minimum programme that everybody is talking about is the NDR. But this is pure confusion because the NDR is a revolutionary strategy, and its minimum programme is the Freedom Charter. In short, if the NDR is the minimum programme, then what is the Freedom Charter?
•When we call for the Freedom Charter, as the minimum programme that informs the Strategy of the NDR, we are not “overstretching” anything.
•This basic confusion between strategy and programme, explains why Numsa Special National Congress was correct to note that: “There exists little common understanding within the Alliance of the real objectives of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR)”.
That is why Numsa is correct to form an independent, mass political party of the working class that is committed to socialism
•We are of the view that, as Engels put it: “Even where there is no prospect of achieving their election the workers must put up their own candidates to preserve their independence, to gauge their own strength and to bring their revolutionary position and party standpoint to public attention….The progress which the proletarian party will make by operating independently in this way is infinitely more important than the disadvantages resulting from the presence of a few reactionaries in the representative body”.
•The independent vanguard party that Numsa has resolved to be the catalyst to, will not “aspire to a change in social conditions which will make the existing society as tolerable and comfortable as possible” to quote Engels, but it its sole aim will be to stretch bourgeois democracy to its utmost limits, to show that bourgeois democracy is incapable of meeting the aspirations of the working class majority.
•In this sense, the party we call for will not embed itself in the capitalist state. It will retain its independence to agitate and mobilise the working class against the very capitalist state and the dominance of white monopoly capital.
The independent vanguard party of the working class that we envisage will not be a lapdog
•Our envisaged party will call for nationalisation. If the bourgeoisie agrees, we will call for national without compensation. If the bourgeoisie agrees, we call for nationalisation without compensation under worker control.
•Our envisaged party will call for progressive taxation. If the bourgeosie agrees, we call for heaviest taxation to the point of bankrupting the rich, if they agree, we will call for abolition of inheritance.
•All these demands will be about dealing a blow to private domination by a few individuals of decisive means of production. None of such demands emanated from the SACP.
•That is why in Numsa we say: “The South African Communist Party (SACP) leadership has become embedded in the state and is failing to act as the vanguard of the working class”.
The envisaged vanguard party of the working class will be rooted in the United Front
•As NUMSA, we must lead in the establishment of a new UNITED FRONT that will coordinate struggles in the workplace and in communities, in a way similar to the UDF of the 1980s. The task of this front will be to fight for the implementation of the Freedom Charter and be an organisational weapon against neoliberal policies such as the NDP.
•In the same way the united front tactic has nothing to do with the so-called ‘electoral combinations’ of leaders in pursuit of one or another parliamentary aim.
•The united front tactic is simply an initiative to join with all workers belonging in a common struggle to defend the immediate, basic interests of the working class against the bourgeoisie.
•We therefore think that every action, even the most trivial everyday demand, can lead to revolutionary awareness and revolutionary education; it is the experience of struggle that will convince workers of the need for socialism.
•The key thing therefore, in this united front will be that it must be based on concrete struggles, and not on some historical sentiment or holding hands of leaders in front of media cameras