South Africa: Malema, the ANC and the unions

Niall Reddy of the Democratic Left Front inside the United Front for Socialism spoke in London on 17 March 2015 about the rapidly developing situation in the South African workers’ movement. The African National Congress is beginning to lose its absolute hold over black workers; Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters are growing rapidly and presenting a serious challenge to the corrupt leadership of Jacob Zuma and his vice president Cyril Ramaphosa, a man widely labelled “the butcher of Marikana” due to his role in the slaughter of 34 striking miners there. In these two videos he offers his assessment of the situation.

Norman Traub, (African People’s Democratic Union of Southern Africa) spoke about some of the early struggles against apartheid.

 

  1. I am posting this in reply to Ian’s article “Discourse:Of Transformation and Freedom” to which he provides the link in his comment on “South Africa,Malema, the ANC and the Unions”

    In this article, a central theme is that the ANC has transformed itself from propagating the Freedom Charter drawn up in 1955 when it was a national liberation movement, to embracing neoliberal policies pursued previously by the racist regime. While it is clear that the ANC led government is vigorously pursuing neoliberal policies, the Freedom Charter needs to be further examined in relationship to the transformation process. But first, a very brief look at the situation in South Africa since 1994. While 1994 marks a watershed in South African history in that the previously disenfranchised blacks(African, Coloured and Indian), who comprise by far the majority of the population won democratic rights, there was a political revolution but no real change in the social fabric. In fact, the basis of the negotiations that took place between the racist regime and the ANC and its ally the South African Communist Party(SACP), was that while political rights would be extended to the blacks, the wealth of the country , most of the factories, the mines and 87% of the land must remain in the hands of the whites. This was ensured by a clause in the constitution, which guaranteed property rights. To this day the vast majority of the blacks remain impoverished and landless, living in locations or squatter camps, with huge unemployment, poor social conditions, poor education and health services . What has changed since 1994 is that there has been a big increase in the black middle class, which has taken place as higher level jobs in the civil service, local government and in industry and business became available to them. The government promoted a Black Empowerment Policy, whereby big companies incorporated blacks into their boards of directors and tenders from black businesses for government contracts often received preferential treatment from officialdom. As a result, a small layer of black millionaires has sprung up.
    Now to come to the Freedom Charter. It was loud in its demand for democratic rights to be extended to the blacks ,at the time it was drawn up. It calls for the nationalisation of the banks, mines and the land. Prominent in its demands is the following “There shall be equal status in the bodies of the state, in the courts and in the schools for all national groups and races,” It goes on “All national groups shall be protected by law against insults to their race and national pride”. Note the repeated reference to rights for “national groups”, a point which is taken up by Leonard Nikani in his book “My Life Under White Supremacy And In Exile”. “Objectively, this concept originates from the same source as the idea of GROUP RIGHTS bandied about by P.W. Botha in his Rubicon speech in 1987. You either have a South African nation and South African national pride or nothing. Either you belong in South Africa or are living in limbo. It is not surprising that, having first banned the Freedom Charter, the Nationalist Party government unbanned it in the early eighties and allowed it to be propagated…. This was done at a time when both the ANC and the Communist Party were proscribed”. Clause (c) 9 of the unbanned Freedom Charter states “The institutions of hereditary rulers and chiefs shall be transformed to serve the interests of the people as a whole in conformity with the democratic principles embodied in the constitution”. This clause and the stress on “national groups” begs the question, How “transforming” is the Freedom Charter? To talk about democratic principles and retaining the institution of hereditary chiefs is a contradiction. The South African constitution was promulgated following the first democratic elections in 1994. Chapter 11 of the constitution states “Government acknowledges the critical role of traditional leadership institutions in South Africa’s constitutional democracy and in communities, particularly in relation to the rural-development strategy. It therefore remains committed to strengthening the institution of traditional leadership”.
    The constitutional chapter on the role of chiefs does not differ significantly from the clause on chieftainship in the unbanned Freedom Charter.
    What is striking about other demands of the Freedom Charter such as the nationalisation of the banks, mines and the land is “ there is not a word about the class that will control the state which is supposed to grant these demands. They dare not mention the working-class state which alone is capable of granting these demands. Clearly the intention is firstly not to drive away the bourgeois liberals who themselves are opposed to the policy of apartheid on the ground that it now chokes the development of capitalism and secondly to win over the Black petit bourgeois leadership who want to be incorporated into the bourgeois state so that those few who have capital may invest their money in profitable enterprises of imperialism(Ikwezi Lomso No 1 December 1988 p. 1, I. B. Tabata.) This quote is from an article five years before the ANC came to power following the first democratic elections. The article captures the essence of the ANC petit bourgeois leadership. Their main concern is to be incorporated into the bourgeoisie in a bourgeois state. Now in political control of the state, they have succeeded in achieving their goal as attested by the rise of the black millionaires and the black middle class. Their ally in government , the SACP is as vocal as the ANC ministers in lauding the achievements of “the national democratic revolution” and pontificating that at some future time( it does not specify when and how ) socialism will emerge.
    As for the “Economic Freedom Fighters”(EFF) their leader. Julius Malema, when he was head of the ANC Youth League led a lavish life style and acquired big houses and a farm. His assets were seized by the state when he failed to pay his taxes. He is currently facing charges in court of money laundering and fraud. An important aspect of EFF policy is the pursuit of populism. There are deep divisions in the organisation , four of their MPs have been suspended by the organisation. I think your article is near the mark when it says “they really want a bigger slice of the pie”.

    Norman Traub

  2. While I am in general agreement with the sentiments expressed above, we need to be more specific about the actual process of incorporation of the ANC.

    What nationalist movements and their elite figures have as a programme and what they tell their supporters and followers are often the diametric opposite of what they will do once in power, or once in the driving seat of power that is and this has confounded its followers, its erstwhile membership and its foreign supporters and backers. South Africa was to be no different! How many times has there been a “False Start in Africa!” From the early Black Consciousness student rallies in support of Frelimo in Mozambique in 1973, the first independent unionization of black workers from that same year, to the massive Soweto students´ uprising in 1976 great hopes were sprung. “How would the New Democratic South Africa manifest itself?” What would be its first steps?

    But what is important to my mind was the SECRET NEGOTIATIONS, secret deals and underhand manner in which the U-turn in policy (and its being secret to this day) was made. It is this U-turn that made possible the next 30 years of orthodox neo-liberal economic development and thus the development of crony capitalism and the ANC Black bourgeoisie. But it was the speed at which this about -turn took place, the fact that the new orthodoxy was “non-negotiable” that took all by surprise. A heavy dictatorial stamp was fixed onto events henceforth.

    John Pilger writes: * ” … On 11 February, 1990, Nelson Mandela stepped out on the balcony of Cape Town City Hall with the miners’ leader Cyril Ramaphosa supporting him. Free at last, he spoke to millions in South Africa and around the world. This was the moment, an historic split-second as rare and potent as any in the universal struggle for freedom. Moral power and the power for justice could triumph over anything, any orthodoxy, it seemed. “Now is the time to intensify the struggle,” said Mandela in a proud and angry speech, perhaps his best, or the last of his best.

    The next day he appeared to correct himself. Majority rule would not make blacks “dominant”. The retreat quickened. There would be no public ownership of the mines, banks and rapacious monopoly industries, no economic democracy, as he had pledged with the words: “a change or modification of our views in this regard is inconceivable”.

    Reassuring the white establishment and its foreign business allies – the very orthodoxy and cronyism that had built, maintained and reinforced fascist apartheid – became the political agenda of the “new” South Africa.

    Secret deals facilitated this. In 1985, apartheid had suffered two disasters: the Johannesburg stock market crashed and the regime defaulted on its mounting foreign debt. In September that year, a group led by Gavin Relly, chairman of the Anglo-American Corporation, met Oliver Tambo, the ANC president, and other liberation officials in Mfuwe, Zambia.

    The Relly message was that a “transition” from apartheid to a black-governed electoral democracy was possible only if “order” and “stability” were guaranteed. This was liberal code for a capitalist state in which social and economic democracy would never be a priority. The aim was to split the ANC between the “moderates” they could “do business with” (Tambo, Mandela and Thabo Mbeki) and the majority who made up the United Democratic Front and were fighting in the streets.

    The betrayal of the UDF and its most effective components, such as the National Civic Organisation, is today poignant, secret history…”

    In 1987 and 1990, ANC officials led by Mbeki met twenty prominent members of the Afrikaner elite at a stately home near Bath, in England. Around the fireplace at Mells Park House, they drank vintage wine and malt whisky. They joked about eating “illegal” South African grapes, then subject to a worldwide boycott, “It’s a civilised world there,” recalled Mof Terreblanche, a stockbroker and pal of F.W. De Klerk. “If you have a drink with somebody… and have another drink, it brings understanding. Really, we became friends.”

    So secret were these convivial meetings that none but a select few in the ANC knew about them. The prime movers were those who had profited from apartheid , such as the British mining giant Consolidated Goldfields, which picked up the tab at Mells Park House. The most important item around the fireplace was who would control the economic system behind the facade of “democracy”. It was to be status quo ante. No change, no accountability.

    More on the background to the Negotiated Settlement

    I think that the following “factors” are also important when we look for “causes” and “effects”: in fact it was a series of “external shocks” or major global events that have not been given much treatment here that ALSO could be regarded a “contributing factors” that triggered the landslide.

    1) The “organic crisis” of apartheid has been discussed in numerous works: when loans were not forthcoming after 1986 any and manufacturing investments were shrinking (it has been argued that the profit rates were falling and that that the economy was to enter an “over-accumulation crisis”,

    – see Patrick Bond and Michael Roberts below, the Afrikaner capitalists, political notables and “verligtes” were ready to “talk” with the ANC in exile (see especially: Stephen Ellis, Hein Marais and Alec Russel for chronology and background) **.

    This is generally recognised to be the “turning-point” whereby the Nationalist Party (NP) strategists wanted to change its domestic policies, and in fact the lifting of the hated Pass Laws and urban residential segregation and a limited local political representation was allowed by the mid-1980s,

    – while waging war abroad in the Front Line States until their “withdrawal” from Cuito Cuanavale, 1988, after being militarily matched and beaten in the skies. The carrot and the stick strategy.

    2) Michael Gorbachev´s version of “detente” (after he became General Secretary of the Communist Party of Russia in 1985), plus the drain on military, human and other resources after the invasion by Breshnev of Afghanistan, was a watershed. The SACP was forced by Moscow to “negotiate or die!”

    3) The crisis in the external ANC´s military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, erupted in the early 1980s in the camps in Angola, as the younger militants who had fled the country after the Soweto Uprising of 1976 and had fled the country,

    – their demands for internal democracy, a Convention to clear up many issues that had been constantly “postponed”. There was a “Mutiny” in the ANC or “the Mkatashinga” (from a Mbundu word said to refer to the burden carried by a soldier”) which has also been “hidden from history”, although details of this had been known to many for some time. Very few socialist supporters of the ANC would believe this. Then the real truth began to seep out. No, not disinformation.

    That the troops of the ANC, uMKhonto we Sizwe, present in camps in northern Angola, did not participate in that crucial and decisive Battle of Cuito Cuanivale (1988) that turned the psychological tide against the apartheid rulers and its military arm the SADF, is rarely mentioned. Why? Why not? What happened?

    Stephen Ellis the biographer of the ANC in exile ( EXTERNAL MISSION: The ANC in Exile 1960-1990, Hurst and Compant, London, 2012) see especially pages 186 – 196: “Mkatashinga” (esp pps. 192-194, 196, 286).

    Writes Paul Trewhela: in Searchlight South Africa No. 5: “Inside Quatro” @ http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/revhist/supplem/hirson/quadro.html
    _______________________

    ( * ) John Pilger: South Africa: 20 years of apartheid by another name @ http://johnpilger.com/articles/south-africa-20-years-of-apartheid-by-another-name

    ( ** ) The following (very selective) works/books represent some of the more useful guides to this process of incorporation of the ANC into the mainstream political discourse from 1985/6:

    Patrick Bond: ELITE TRANSITION – From Apartheid to Neo-Liberalism in South Africa, Pluto Press, London, 2000.

    Willie Esterhuyse: ENDGAME – Secret Talks and the End of Apartheid, Tafelberg, Cape Town, 2012.

    Hein Marais: South Africa: LIMITS TO CHANGE: The Political Economy of Transition, Zed Books, June 1998.

    Hein Marais: SOUTH AFRICA PUSHED TO THE LIMIT: The Political Economy of Change, UCT Press/ Zed Books, 2011

    Alec Russel: AFTER MANDELA, The Battle For The Soul of Africa (2009, 2010), Windmill Books/Random House, London.

    Web sites:

    Mandela’s Dream of Black Power Became a “Neoliberal Nightmare”,

    @ http://www.globalresearch.ca/mandelas-dream-of-black-power-became-a-neoliberal-nightmare/5360825

    John Pilger: From Apartheid to Neoliberalism in South Africa – Mandela’s Tarnished Legacy – @ http://johnpilger.com/articles/mandelas-greatness-may-be-secured-but-not-his-legacy

    Patrick Bond: Did He Jump or Was He Pushed? The Mandela Years in Power -@ http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/12/06/the-mandela-years-in-power/

    Michael Roberts Blogg: Mandela’s economic legacy, @ https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/mandelas-economic-legacy/

  3. Marikana, Vavi, the Metal Workers´ Union and the United Front for Socialism – more recent developments

    Since his excellent overview of developments on many fronts, Niall Reddy of the Democratic Left Front on 17 March 2015, there has been some dramatic new developments. An overview of some commentaries:

    Zwelinzima Vavi dismissed with immediate effect – COSATU Special CEC

    31 March 2015

    Committee lays out its grounds for the expulsion of Federation’s General Secretary

    The Congress of South African Trade Unions [COSATU] held its Special Central Executive Committee [CEC] from the 30th to the 31st March 2015.

    The meeting was held in terms of the COSATU constitution.

    It was attended by the National Office Bearers, 12 Affiliates and Provinces, including SAMWU and DENOSA.
    ———

    @ http://www.politicsweb.co.za/politicsweb/view/politicsweb/en/page71654?oid=1022494&sn=Detail&pid=71616

    Vavi expulsion: COSATU now just the labour desk of the ANC – UF
    Kwezilomso Mbandazayo

    31 March 2015

    Front puts out its hand of solidarity to all workers (inside and outside the Federation) for the renewal of militant anti-capitalist trade unionism

    UNITED FRONT RESPONSE TO THE EXPULSION OF ZWELINZIMA VAVI FROM COSATU

    As expected, yesterday the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) decided to expel Zwelinzima Vavi from his position as its General Secretary. The United Front (UF) regards this decision as the final nail in the regrettable terminal decline of what was once a mighty, principled, independent and militant federation of workers’ trade unions.

    COSATU will now continue as the labour desk of the African National Congress (ANC) with its militancy and independence finally killed. It is the view of the UF that at his height comrade Vavi was one of the most principled and committed leaders of COSATU post-1994. His expulsion will have a major impact on COSATU.

    He has paid the price for sticking out his neck to fight against the rise of the predatory elite and a crony capitalist state. His principled fight against corruption made him increasingly an enemy of the corrupt trade union bureaucracy that sits on the neck of workers.

    The UF regards this crisis in COSATU as a reflection of sustained disintegration of working class organisation since 1994. This disintegration has primarily been driven by the failure of the post-1994 political and economic dispensation in protecting workers from systemic unemployment, starvation wages, exploitation and the neo-liberal restructuring of work. Compounding this was the failure of the trade union movement to adequately service members, organise farm workers, casual workers, informal workers and other marginalised workers.

    Subjectively, many COSATU leaders were also coopted by employers, the government, the ANC and the South African Communist Party (SACP). Even with these weaknesses, COSATU still remained for many years an important voice in defence of worker demands, and broader social struggles.

    This was on the back of the unwavering resilience and ability of workers to consistently mobilise and fight for their rights, a living wage and broader social justice.

    A collapsing COSATU can be a serious threat to workers’ rights. This is perhaps the time that capital and the neo-liberal government will strike some of the most serious blows against workers, and seek to confuse and demoralise workers. Already, this is confirmed by government’s attitude in the public service negotiations.

    Vavi’s expulsion is not the end of the story. It can be used to accelerate a process of re-organisation and re-alignment of the labour movement in South Africa. As the UF, we put out our hand of solidarity to all workers (inside and outside COSATU) for the renewal of militant anti-capitalist trade unionism.

    Out of the wreckage of COSATU can emerge a renewed labour movement capturing the spirit of principled trade unionism, working class independence, political independence of the trade union movement, high quality service to members, democratic worker control, solidarity and militant struggle. This will also require workers to rise to the occasion where they can arrest and stop internal union corruption, sweetheart relations with management, and bureaucratisation.

    Comrade Vavi may very well be found playing a critical role in this renewal. As he thinks about his future role, the UF also calls on him to be principled and to take responsibility and corrective measures for his own shortcomings. This applies to all activists and leaders.

    The UF calls on all workers not to waste this crisis in COSATU. This is a moment to rebuild and assert working class confidence and power. The UF calls on workers to reclaim the coming May Day into a day of powerful working class solidarity and action against join important struggles against the major challenges that face ordinary and poor people in the country.

    The UF fully supports the proposed Workers’ Summit. Such a Summit will be an important moment to reflect and open the path to a revitalised trade union movement. In the UF, a renewed trade union movement will find a progressive home that unites the broad working class.

    Statement issued by Kwezilomso Mbandazayo, UF National Co-Convenor, March 31 2015

    31 March 2015

    UNITED FRONT RESPONSE TO THE EXPULSION OF ZWELINZIMA VAVI FROM COSATU

    As expected, yesterday the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) decided to expel Zwelinzima Vavi from his position as its General Secretary.

    The United Front (UF) regards this decision as the final nail in the regrettable terminal decline of what was once a mighty, principled, independent and militant federation of workers’ trade unions.

    COSATU will now continue as the labour desk of the African National Congress (ANC) with its militancy and independence finally killed. It is the view of the UF that at his height comrade Vavi was one of the most principled and committed leaders of COSATU post-1994. His expulsion will have a major impact on COSATU.

    He has paid the price for sticking out his neck to fight against the rise of the predatory elite and a crony capitalist state. His principled fight against corruption made him increasingly an enemy of the corrupt trade union bureaucracy that sits on the neck of workers.

    The UF regards this crisis in COSATU as a reflection of sustained disintegration of working class organisation since 1994. This disintegration has primarily been driven by the failure of the post-1994 political and economic dispensation in protecting workers from systemic unemployment, starvation wages, exploitation and the neo-liberal restructuring of work.

    Compounding this was the failure of the trade union movement to adequately service members, organise farm workers, casual workers, informal workers and other marginalised workers. Subjectively, many COSATU leaders were also coopted by employers, the government, the ANC and the South African Communist Party (SACP).

    Even with these weaknesses, COSATU still remained for many years an important voice in defence of worker demands, and broader social struggles. This was on the back of the unwavering resilience and ability of workers to consistently mobilise and fight for their rights, a living wage and broader social justice.

    A collapsing COSATU can be a serious threat to workers’ rights. This is perhaps the time that capital and the neo-liberal government will strike some of the most serious blows against workers, and seek to confuse and demoralise workers. Already, this is confirmed by government’s attitude in the public service negotiations.

    Vavi’s expulsion is not the end of the story. It can be used to accelerate a process of re-organisation and re-alignment of the labour movement in South Africa. As the UF, we put out our hand of solidarity to all workers (inside and outside COSATU) for the renewal of militant anti-capitalist trade unionism.

    Out of the wreckage of COSATU can emerge a renewed labour movement capturing the spirit of principled trade unionism, working class independence, political independence of the trade union movement, high quality service to members, democratic worker control, solidarity and militant struggle.

    This will also require workers to rise to the occasion where they can arrest and stop internal union corruption, sweetheart relations with management, and bureaucratisation. Comrade Vavi may very well be found playing a critical role in this renewal. As he thinks about his future role, the UF also calls on him to be principled and to take responsibility and corrective measures for his own shortcomings. This applies to all activists and leaders.

    The UF calls on all workers not to waste this crisis in COSATU. This is a moment to rebuild and assert working class confidence and power. The UF calls on workers to reclaim the coming May Day into a day of powerful working class solidarity and action against join important struggles against the major challenges that face ordinary and poor people in the country.

    The UF fully supports the proposed Workers’ Summit.

    Such a Summit will be an important moment to reflect and open the path to a revitalised trade union movement. In the UF, a renewed trade union movement will find a progressive home that unites the broad working class.

    FOR COMMENTS, CONTACT:

    1. Kwezilomso Mbandazayo – UF National Co-Convenor – 082 817 0097
    2. Mazibuko K. Jara – UF National Secretary – 083 987 9633
    3. Dinga Sikwebu – UF National Secretariat Coordinator – 0784579855
    ——————————-

    From the website of the Workers & Socialist Party (extract only!)

    @ http://workerssocialistparty.co.za/vavis-expulsion-opens-new-chapter-in-working-class-struggle/

    VAVI’S EXPULSION OPENS NEW CHAPTER IN WORKING CLASS STRUGGLE

    Posted March 31, 2015

    Zwelinzime Vavi

    Twenty years of class collaboration as part of the Tripartite Alliance has finally produced an irreversible split in the Cosatu trade union federation. On 30 March, Cosatu’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) expelled general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, a vocal critic of the anti-working class policies of the ANC government for his 16 years as leader of the federation.

    Further, the CEC made NUMSA’s November expulsion permanent by admitting the amagundwane, the Liberated Metalworkers’ Union of South Africa (Limusa) led by NUMSA’s former president Cedric Gina.

    The ground for Cosatu’s split has been prepared over the past twenty years. Izwi La Basebenzi, WASP’s newspaper, has consistently pointed out that the Alliance rested on class forces with diametrically opposed interests; that far from it being necessary for the unity of the working class as the SACP falsely argued, it guaranteed disunity. Izwi therefore called upon the Cosatu rank-and-file to reclaim the federation’s class and political independence by taking Cosatu out of the Alliance.

    The contradiction of a trade union federation with a militant struggle history and socialist ideology remaining in alliance with the pro-capitalist ANC and the capitalist apologists in the South African Communist Party was always going to pose a threat to workers unity as the federation was torn apart by the irreconcilable pressures of political loyalty and subservience to the ANC and the interests of workers that built Cosatu with their sweat and blood.

    Indeed, the break-up of Cosatu has been underway in slow motion for many years with a whole series of small splits from Cosatu affiliates. The Marikana massacre was the earthquake that finally shattered the foundations of the Alliance drawing a clear line between the forces that aligned themselves with the ANC government and the mining bosses, and the aspirations of the mineworkers’ independent strike committees for class and political independence.

    Marikana represented a change of quantity into quality. Since that watershed, the decisive break-up of Cosatu has been guaranteed with only the detail of how and when left unanswered. Those answers have now been given.

    New federation posed

    Since November’s expulsion of NUMSA, Vavi and the leaders of PAWUSA, Denosa, FAWU, SASAWU, CWU, SAFPU and SACCAWU have been boycotting Cosatu meetings in solidarity with NUMSA. The question of a new trade union federation is clearly posed and discussions are already underway. Vavi has said that a meeting of NUMSA’s Cosatu allies will be held over 5-6 May to discuss the way forward and prepare for a ‘workers summit’ in June. It has also been reported that NUMSA has had talks with the Nactu federation, AMCU and other independent unions.

    Socialists fight for the maximum unity of the working class. However, at certain points in history, a split, such as that which is now entrenched in Cosatu, has the potential to be progressive if it holds out the possibility of increasing the fighting power of the working class. For the past two years Cosatu has been paralysed. Despite resolutions to campaign and struggle on issues including labour broking and e-tolls nothing has happened.

    We repeat Vavi’s call – “don’t mourn, organise!” Further, Vavi has said, “I will be found everywhere, marching with workers, mobilising them, reinforcing the recruitment of workers … negotiating, leading campaigns against labour brokers, e-tolls, exploitation, job losses…” There is no question that the fighting traditions of Cosatu have left with NUMSA and now Vavi. Struggle must be at the heart of the new federation.

    WASP welcomes the proposed way forward. We have consistently called on NUMSA and its allies to convene such a meeting, especially in light of the pro-ANC Cosatu leadership’s open defiance of the constitution by refusing to convene a special congress. In November, we said “…a date should be set early in the new year for a conference to discuss the way forward for the trade union movement.

    This should be open, not just to NUMSA and its [Cosatu] allies, but members and structures of other Cosatu affiliates, affiliates of the Nactu trade union federation, independent unions and groups of unorganised workers struggling to found new unions.” It is crucial that any ‘workers summit’ builds a bridge to those workers still held hostage in the rump-Cosatu and makes efforts to win them over.

    The burning question now is the political orientation and character of any new federation. Any new trade union centre must base itself on democratic and worker-controlled unions as was originally intended by the founders of Cosatu in 1985. The corrosive corruption of the past twenty years must be cleansed from the movement. A crucial lesson to learn from the demise of Cosatu is to recognise the price of class collaboration.

    Whilst Vavi has singled out corruption as the main cause of Cosatu’s demise, in reality, this is just a symptom, the inevitable consequence of class collaboration. The new federation must restore Cosatu’s original socialist ideals and base the struggles that lie ahead on these.

    The disintegration of Cosatu will accelerate the divisions in the SACP and threaten further the ANC’s political authority with serious implications in next year’s local government elections for a party whose 62% majority masks the reality that only 34% of eligible voters supported it in 2014.

    Any new federation must not just reclaim the independence of the working class industrially but politically too. The purpose of the proposed workers summit must be both to launch a new federation, as well as a mass workers party on socialist programme. The launch of a mass workers party is absolutely imperative – support for such a party is widespread.

    The pale shadow

    What remains of Cosatu is a bunch of corrupt ‘leaders’ holding the remaining members as hostages. These ‘leaders’ see trade unions as vehicles for self-enrichment. Alignment with the ANC is the best way to realise their personal greed. What is left in Cosatu? NUMSA, the biggest union on the African continent has been replaced with Limusa, a mere ‘post-box’ with 1,600 members compared to NUMSA’s 340,000! The NUM, whose leaders’ hands are still dripping with the blood of their former members after their role in the Marikana massacre, will regain their ascendancy.

    Those left behind in Cosatu are not united behind their leaders or their actions. A SAMWU worker who phoned in to a Radio 702 talk show explained that SAMWU was not united in support of the expulsion of Vavi and that he and his fellow workers had been awaiting the calling of a Special Congress to register their support for him. He will be representative of tens of thousands of workers. Further splits can be anticipated within Cosatu’s remaining unions.

    Cosatu’s dependency on the ANC will increase. Vavi has revealed that the federation faces a R300,000 per month deficit after the loss of NUMSA’s monthly R11 million affiliation fee. What remains of Cosatu will be a treacherous fifth column in the labour movement.
    —————-

    Suggested reading:

    MARIKANA – A View from the Mountain and a Case to Answer, by Peter Alexander, Luke Sinwell, Thapelo Lekgowa, Botsang Mmope og Bongani Xerzwi, Jacana Media, Johannesburg & Bookmarks Publications, London, 2012 – ISBN 978 1 909026 25 4

    Michael Roberts Blog: Bloging from a Marxist economist
    @https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/mandelas-economic-legacy/

    NUMSA – TOWARDS A NEW SOCIALIST FEDERATION? @ https://www.facebook.com/notes/selim-gool/numsa-towards-a-new-socialist-federation-discussion-document-feb-2014/10151831120441916

    South Africa: ‘ANC in lucrative alliance with international capital’, says NUMSA’s Irvin Jim, @ http://links.org.au/node/3707

  4. I would like to deal with some of the comments made by Selim and the United Front(UF). As regards the negotiation process and the policies of the ANC government, the catalogue of events you have portrayed Selim, demonstrates the ANC leadership’s class position in practice. It represents the interests of the black bourgeoisie and the black middle class. After exposing the role of the ANC and SACP in the negotiation process, you then refer to the ” betrayal of the UDF and its most effective components, such as the National Civic Organisation” …. What you do not discuss is the role of the liberals in promoting the UDF and its financing as well as its lack of a defined programme and policy. The trade unions criticised the UDF for its lack of democratic practices. The ANC was only too pleased to accept the assertion by the racist press that the UDF was their brainchild. The role of the UDF in the struggle, is analysed in Tabata’s article “The ANC Charts A Course To A Proper Sell-Out” (Ikwezi Lomso No.1, Dec. 1988) While not wishing to go into any detail in the development of the black trade unions from the 70s, I would first like to focus on the formation of FOSATU in 1979, which was the foundation stone of non racial trade unions. FOSATU leaders insisted on internal democracy, shop steward networks and leadership accountability. The standpoint of its leadership was that the working class had interests not shared by other classes involved in the struggle for democratic rights and for this reason should maintain its independence. However, when it joined up with other trade unions to form COSATU in 1985, this newly formed federation of trade unions became a battleground for organisations advocating the policies of the ANC and SACP as opposed to those who held the view that the working class should retain its political independence.While the ANC operating through community organisations like the United Democratic Front gained increasing support , trade union leaders on the left , which did not have a strategy for building political organisations were eclipsed by the ANC and SACP. Political organisations like the one to which I belong APDUSA, calling for the trade unions to affiliate to political organisations independent of the ANC and SACP, were ignored. Under pressure from the ANC and SACP, COSATU adopted the flawed Freedom Charter, (which I discussed in my previous comment) and then formed a strategic alliance with the ANC and SACP, which came to be known as the Tripartite alliance. This alliance exerted tremendous influence on the workers struggle and although its influence has waned, continues to influence workers struggles today.
    In 2012 a turning point was reached in South African working class history with the heroic struggle of the Marikana mineworkers in the platinum mines, when 34 miners were massacred by the police and 78 injured. The strikers, in spite of this massacre and the dastardly roles played by the mine owners and the ANC led government, continued the 5 week strike until their bosses agreed to a substantial increase in wages. The role played by the National Union of Mineworkers, COSATU and the SACP was especially damning for the strikers. The break up of COSATU came as no surprise. Both the UF and the Workers and Socialist Party(WASP) deal with the break up following the expulsion of NUMSA and the removal of Vavi from his position as Secretary of COSATU. Their support for the proposed Workers Summit and the way forward for the workers struggle, is commendable. If we are to learn the lessons of history, unlike the situation in the 80s when COSATU became a vital part of the Tripartite Alliance, the necessity for the workers in the trade union movement and elsewhere in society to be represented by an independent socialist party in the South African political arena, has become paramount.

  5. I cannot speak for the WASP (who have in fact links with the CWI or “Workers International” Tendency and emerged from the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) – see their website @ http://www.workerssocialistparty.co.za
    or of the Comrades of the United Front, as have no membership in either, but as there is still the building and reconstruction or re-formation of the Left, which is an ongoing PROCESS, I present this for the readership of SR:

    The recent wave of “xenophobic” attacts on “foreigners” in South Africa (mostly Durban and Gauteng / Johannesburg) has dominated the news.

    Xenophobia in South Africa, @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenophobia_in_South_Africa; and the following articles –

    http://www.newstatesman.com/…/cecil-rhodes-mahatma… ;

    http://voices.news24.com/…/xenophobia-poor-south…/ ;

    http://www.spiked-online.com/…/the-real-black…/16889… ; http://groundup.org.za/…/thousands-march-against.

    On WASP:

    Vavi: Let’s mobilise, let’s fight back@ http://workerssocialistparty.co.za/vavis-expulsion-opens-new-chapter-in-working-class-struggle/

    Had a recent “Conference on Socialism”:

    Paper delivered at their recent Imbizo: @ https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/14cb99410d51cb06?projector=1

    @ https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/14cdace756aa4c41?projector=1

    Contact: http://www.workerssocialistparty.co.za
    workerssocialistparty@gmail.com
    Phone/cell: 27 (011) 330804
    081 393 1914

    On United Front:

    The “United Front” emerged as an initiative of NUMSA. Most of their leadership and rhetoric show they were schooled/trained by the SACPs methodolgy and politics: “Two Stage theory” of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) etc. But forces like the DLF (Democratic Left Front) are also active here.

    NUMSA: see – Vavi factor gives pause to bold but impatient Numsa @ http://www.bdlive.co.za/opinion/columnists/2015/04/24/vavi-factor-gives-pause-to-bold-but-impatient-numsa

    United Front Actions: Quote: “We, as the United Front(UF), the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), the Right-to-Know (R2K) Campaign, Marikana Support Campaign, African Diaspora Forum (ADF) and Thembelihle Crisis Committee;

    – will coordinate a programme of weeklong localised actions aimed at reclaiming our rights such as the freedom not to be detained without trial,

    – freedom from all forms of violence, freedom from torture, freedom of expression,

    – the right to human dignity, our rights to privacy and the right to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions.

    Starting with a picket outside the US consulate in Sandton on Wednesday 18 March to highlight police brutality against Afro-American communities,

    – the action will move through the country; touching townships like Manenberg, Khayelitsha and Delft in Cape Town; Katlehong and Thembelihle in Gauteng.

    The action will also take place in small towns such as Thabong in Welkom; Whittlesea, Grahamstown and Peddie in the Eastern Cape. A memorial for the 21 people shot dead and 51 people injured or widowed in KwaLanga on 21 March 1985 will be held in Uitenhage.

    Symbolic tombstones for 44 people who have been killed by the police during protests since 2004 will be unveiled on Saturday 21 March in front of Johannesburg Central Police Station (previously called John Vorster Square).

    Two night vigils will also be held in Rustenburg for the miners who were massacred in Marikana”.

  6. For the First – 1st of May 2005!

    TELLING TRUTH TO POWER IN SOUTHERN AFRICA …

    HOW TRUE IS THIS PICTURE OF “SOLIDARITY & BROTHERHOOD”? BETWEEN CUBA, AFRICA & THE SOLIDARITY MOVEMENTS FOR SOUTHERN AFRICA?

    WHAT WAS THE “REAL” RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ANGOLA & CUBA?

    WHY DO LIBERALS, PSEUDO-MARXISTS & THEIR HANGERS-ON LOVE TO WALLOW IN LIES, DECEPTION AND CRUDE RHETORIC?

    NOW WE CAN PRESENT THE TRUTH!

    NOW, behind this “Official Narrative” was another more gruesome reality!
    See: Angola’s lessons for South Africa, by Paul Trewhela, @ http://www.politicsweb.co.za/…/angolas-lessons-for-south-af… ;

    Many questions need to be asked!

    1) What was the role of the Cuban Army and Security Forces (trained as they were by the KGB/Stasi in putting down rebellions against the petty bourgeois Nationalist regimes from Ethiopia (under the Derge from 1974), to Angola under Neto (the subject of this book by de Oliviera).

    2) The Impasse (dead-end) of these petty bourgeois Nationalist regimes (MPLA; ANC; ZANU; SWAPO and Frelimo) when trying to implement their Bourgeois Radical Nationalist Programme (aka the populist “Freedom Charter” after 20 years of being in power), and the emergence of a comparador bourgeoisie from the ex-liberation movements, to “comparador capitalism” and cronyism, bureaucratism a la Soviet Union; the rapproachment between Havana and Washington.

    Is Cuba a “Workers´ State” or a Capitalist formation?

    A single quote will be sufficient here:

    “De Oliveira’s deep familiarity with the rhetoric of the Left permits the reader an extraordinary insight into both reality and duplicity.

    During the Cold War, the weirdness of Angola was that despite the MPLA being a Marxist-Leninist party – protected by Cuban soldiers with Soviet weapons – it was funded almost exclusively by US capitalism, through the expertise and global reach of Gulf Oil in the Cabinda enclave beyond the country’s far north-west.

    Following the end of the Cold War, when it swiftly dropped its “Marxist-Leninist” title, Soviet-era rhetoric nevertheless continues with the MPLA styling itself a “national bourgeois” party, and with extreme corruption and ruthless political control favouring a tiny elite of former Marxist-Leninist party leaders, generals and intelligence chiefs subordinate to dos Santos.

    Not even in Russia has the Communist wolf transformed itself so utterly and so instantly into the capitalist hyena….

    While he (de Olivera) stresses the effective continuance of one-party, totalitarian rule through the MPLA – still really a “party-state” despite multi-party conditions since 2002, and Angola’s most recent general election in 2012 – what is most striking is his exposition of a “parallel system” in which real power is held not even by the MPLA as a ruling political party but by one man, José Eduardo dos Santos: power-holder and president for 35 years, with his children, his cronies, his comrades.

    All this is centred on a single determinant: oil. With unbroken, mainly US capitalist production of Angola’s oil through 40 years of Cold War, civil war and peace-time, the centre of dos Santos’s spider-like control over the country is the state oil company (really, his personal oil company), Sonangol.

    De Oliveira describes Sonangol as the “central political tool” of the president’s “stranglehold over Angola.” (p.36) During the Cold War, the weirdness of Angola was that despite the MPLA being a Marxist-Leninist party (sic!) – protected by Cuban soldiers with Soviet weapons – it was funded almost exclusively by US capitalist-imperialism, through the expertise and global reach of Gulf Oil in the Cabinda enclave beyond the country’s far north-west.

    Following the end of the Cold War, when it swiftly dropped its “Marxist-Leninist” title, Soviet-era rhetoric nevertheless continues with the MPLA styling itself a “national bourgeois” party, and with extreme corruption and ruthless political control favouring a tiny elite of former Marxist-Leninist party leaders, generals and intelligence chiefs subordinate to dos Santos….”

    Various “Leftists” and political opportunists supported these “National Liberation Movements” UNCONDITIONALLY, asked no awkward questions about prison-torture camps, suppression of a “Pro-Democracy Movement” in the rank-and-file soldiers (MK; PLAN), and trusted the Moscow-orientated leaderships totally!

    And perverted the democratic process once in power!

    This was an indictment especially of the various groupuscules and mini-parties formed by various “Trotskyist” or Left Opposition forces/ sects in the post 1968 period: the Mandelites (Official USFI); the Cliffites (the Internaltional Socialists -IS/SWP); The CWI (“Workers International”) of various orientations, who twisted their “theories” to fit this grim reality (from “deflected permanent revolution” to a version of Permanent Revolution led by the working class in colonial countries but led by “their” sect etc etc.

    See my Notes: THE TRANSITION FROM APARTHEID to the ANCs NEO-APARTHEID, @ https://www.facebook.com/notes/selim-gool/the-transition-from-apartheid-to-the-ancs-neo-apartheid-notes-and-reading-tips/10152399345601025 ;

    ANC in exile’s human rights record: The Cambridge Seminar , @ https://www.facebook.com/notes/selim-gool/anc-in-exiles-human-rights-record-the-cambridge-seminar-on-10th-feb-2010/336597886024 ;

    On Ruth First´s contribution to the South African Revolution Part 1, @ https://www.facebook.com/notes/selim-gool/on-ruth-firsts-contribution-to-the-south-african-revolution-part-1/10152334160886025
    ———————-

    Also: Find Out How Cuba Was Instrumental in Liberating Some African Countries From Their European…

    http://atlantablackstar.com/…/find-out-how-cuba-was-instru…/

    Raul Castro, the US and the massacre in Angola in May 1977
    @ http://politicsweb.co.za/…/raul-castro-the-us-and-the-massa…
    http://atlantablackstar.com/…/find-out-how-cuba-was-instru…/

    Angola’s lessons for South Africa, by Paul Trewhela, @ http://www.politicsweb.co.za/…/angolas-lessons-for… ;

    Joe Slovo, the SACP and the Angola massacre of May 1977, by Paul Trewhela @ http://politicsweb.co.za/news-and-analysis/joe-slovo-the-sacp-and-the-angola-massacre-of-may-

    How I stumbled across Angola’s forgotten massacre, by Lara Pawson @ http://politicsweb.co.za/news-and-analysis/how-i-stumbled-across-angolas-forgotten-massacre

    Nito Alves and the Nitistas: A comment, by Kennerh Good @ http://politicsweb.co.za/news-and-analysis/nito-alves-and-the-nitistas-a-comment

  7. A May Day Message 1.5.2015 – Mayday 2015 – a call for workers’ unity

    The working class faces grave danger.

    The world capitalist economy is stagnating and the only way for monopoly capital to continue to make profits is by taking away more and more from the working class.

    This is why capitalist governments are reducing the taxes that big companies pay and cutting the benefits to the masses.

    The ANC govt shamelessly only ‘increased’ pensions by R60 which is 4%.

    The Journal of Southern African Studies reports that the theft by the mining monopolies like Anglo American, through transfer pricing and other means, has increased since 1994.

    Every year hundreds of billions of Rands are stolen by the mining giants.

    Yet the govt does nothing about this but pleads poverty and hits out at public sector workers, claiming a 4,8% is all they can afford.

    The Cosatu leaders want us to believe that it is only individual cabinet ministers who are to blame.

    Yet, the entire Cabinet sits and approves policy.

    Zuma, Rob Davies and billionaire capitalist Ramaphosa said nothing when the budget was announced saying that R60 is enough for our pensioners.

    In fact, they stood up in parliament and gave the Minister of Finance a standing ovation.

    These same ANC leaders who also think that 4,8% is enough for public sector workers, are the main speakers at Mayday rallies.

    Imagine, Ramaphosa, who still has blood on his hands from the Marikana massacre where an elite police unit massacred 34 mineworkers, wants to tell us how he supports workers’ rights!

    BUT THERE IS ANOTHER GRAVE DANGER.

    THE ANC AND SACP LEADERS ARE ENCOURAGING COSATU MEMBERS TO PHYSICALLY ATTACK NUMSA MEMBERS-

    WE SHOULD NOT ALLOW THEM TO DIVIDE US.

    In the Cosatu Mayday leaflets, the Cosatu leaders, who are openly leaders of the ANC and SACP, are labelling Numsa as a cancer and comparing it to the fascist Inkatha union, Uwusa.

    In other words, they are calling on Cosatu members to take up arms to physically attack Numsa members.

    They are calling on workers to join Limusa, which means weakening and dividing metalworkers.

    We should not allow the ANC and SACP to instigate fighting of worker against worker.

    Attacking Numsa will play into the hands of the capitalist class as worker will be fighting worker while the capitalist state will accelerate its attack on the masses.

    The ANC and SACP leaders want to make it easy for the state to impose low wages on the public sector and other workers.

    The real reason why ANC and SACP want workers to attack and crush Numsa is that they want to have the exclusive right to ride on the backs of workers, to a life of privileges in parliament and business.

    Numsa was expelled from Cosatu because their rank and file wanted to end the parasitism of the ANC and SACP leaders.

    Workers have a long tradition of political unionism.

    To pretend that Cosatu does not take political positions is to falsify our own history.

    So why is it so wrong that workers in Numsa have said that Numsa cannot be apolitical, cannot be just another independent union?

    They have correctly identified that the main instrument of capitalist rule in South Africa is the ANC and SACP.

    For those with short memories we remind you that not too long ago when the public sector was on strike against the low wage offer of the ANC govt, it was the threat of a secondary strike by the industrial unions such as Fawu and Numsa that stopped the govt in their tracks.

    Now today the ANC and SACP leaders want us as workers to forget that.

    Very soon, workers will again need the organised might of Numsa and Fawu to help win our demands against the capitalist policies of the govt.

    Numsa and other unions should send message of support to the workers at the Cosatu rallies, pledging to mobilise support in the fight against the capitalist policies of the government.

    On the other hand, where Numsa and other organizations are marching to parliament or against govt policies such as the privatization of Eskom, workers should send delegations to support these marches.

    It is not about a numbers game as the capitalist press wants us to believe. Our central principle is how to win unity of workers in action against the capitalist and their state.

    Is the climate of violence that is being created by the ANC and SACP leaders also being supported by the capitalist so that workers are too destabilised to act when the final Marikana Commission report is issued and all the police and mining bosses and political leaders who were responsible for the massacre, get off free, without charges?

    The state will not jail the murderers because then the jails will be full of the police as they are killing the masses daily.

    Anglo American and the other capitalist masters need a killing machine. community leaders in Boiketlong were jailed for 16 years for standing up for decent housing, while Oscar Pistorius, who killed his partner gets 3 years.

    The police at Marikana will not even be charged!

    WORKERS UNITE! DON’T LET THE ANC AND SACP LEADERS DIVIDE US!

    LET US BUILD UNITY IN ACTION, IN DEFENCE OF PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS, AGAINST ESKOM INCREASES, AGAINST LOW WAGES. LET US BREAK OUR LINKS WITH THE LABOUR BROKERS AND BILLIONAIRE CAPITALIST MINISTERS!

    TRULY, WE NEED A NEW, REVOLUTIONARY WORKING CLASS PARTY- HOW ELSE WILL WE ACHIEVE SOCIALISM?

    WE NEED TO UNITE IN ACTION WITH OUR CLASS BROTHERS AND SISTERS ACROSS AFRICA AND AROUND THE WORLD!

    GREECE WILL NOT GO DOWN! WE CALL ON THE WORKERS IN EUROPE TO RISE UP AND COME TO THE RESCUE OF THE MASSES IN GREECE! WORKERS OF AFRICA UNITE AGAINST ALL CAPITALIST PUPPET REGIMES OF IMPERIALISM!

    SOCIALISM WILL ONLY COME THROUGH REVOLUTIONARY MASS ACTION OUTSIDE AND AGAINST PARLIAMENT! WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE,

    – WE HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BUT OUR CHAINS!

    WE HAVE A WORLD TO WIN.

    Issued by Workers International Vanguard Party; 1st floor, Community House, 41 Salt River rd Salt River 7925

    @ http://www.workersinternational.org.za/WIVPmayday2015.htm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*