NUMSA commemorates the 100 year anniversary of the Russian Revolution

NUMSA 29 – 30 OCTBER 2012 NEC STATEMENT

1 November 2012, Posted in Press Releases, Speeches

1st November, 2012

Johannesburg

“The South African capitalist state did not emerge as a result of an internal popular anti-feudal revolution. It was imposed from above and from without. From its birth through to the present, South African capitalism has depended heavily on the imperialist centres. Capital from Europe financed the opening of the mines. It was the colonial state that provided the resources to build the basic infrastructure – railways, roads, harbours, posts and telegraphs. It was an imperial army of occupation that created the conditions for political unification. And it was within a colonial setting that the emerging South African capitalist class entrenched and extended the racially exclusive system to increase its opportunities for profit. The racial division of labour, the battery of racist laws and political exclusiveness guaranteed this. From these origins a pattern of domination, which arose in the period of external colonialism, was carried over into the newly-formed Union of South Africa. From its origins to the present, this form of domination has been maintained under changing conditions and by varying mechanisms. In all essential respects, however, the colonial status of the black majority has remained in place. Therefore we characterise our society as colonialism of a special type.”
(SACP, 1989)

NUMSA held its scheduled National Executive Committee (NEC) Meeting from the 29th to the 30th of October, 2012, at its headquarters in Johannesburg.

The NUMSA NEC coordinates the implementation of NUMSA Central Committee and runs with the affairs of the Union in between meetings of the NUMSA Central Committee.

A. State of the Organisation

The NEC noted, among other organisational aspects, the following:

a. We have witnessed the sustenance and steady growth of the Union over the past 12 months, with membership standing at well over the 300 000 mark.

b. The excellent performance of NUMSA delegates in the very successful 11th Cosatu National Congress.

c. The NUMSA National Office Bearers have gone through a thorough post NUMSA National Congress Strategic Planning Retreat, and as such a Draft NUMSA Four Year Strategic Plan has been produced for finalisation in Numsa’s November 2012 Central Committee.

d. Steady progress in implementing organisational renewal and changes as demanded by the Numsa National Congress.

e. The Union is gearing itself to prepare and meet the collective bargaining challenges of 2013 in key sectors of the South African economy (namely Auto, Tyre, Motor, Engineering, Eskom and other House Agreement Companies).

f. Numsa is leaving no stone unturned in respect of implementing the revolutionary demands of the post NUMSA National Congress and the Cosatu 11th National Congress, including the matter of serving a Section 77 Notice at NEDLAC and the proposed national industrial action in support of:

i. the dismissed and striking mine workers,

ii. the banning of labour brokers,

iii. the stopping of e-tolls on our roads,

iv. the struggle for a national minimum wage,

v. the struggle for a living wage,

vi. implementation of the Local Content Accord,

vii. the struggle for the re-industrialisation of South Africa and decent job creation on a mass scale,

viii. the escalating and unaffordable electricity prices,

ix. the abandoning of neoliberal policies by National Treasurer,

x. the nationalisation of the South African Reserve Bank

xi. nationalisation of the strategic sectors of the economy, and

xii. the full implementation of the Freedom Charter, among other demands.

g. The NEC tasked the National Office Bearers (NOBs) to consolidate the Programme of Action and the Section 77 Demands in such a way that there is clear synergy between the demand for the reinstatement of dismissed mineworkers and achieving the demands of the Freedom Charter as crystallised in the Cosatu S77 application.

In this regard the NEC mandated NOB’s to go all out in mobilising metalworkers behind the dismissed and struggling mineworkers. Numsa understand this struggle as being in line with the ANC’s National Policy Conference resolution which calls for a radical second phase of the National Democratic Revolution to bring about fundamental transformation of the South African economy which is redistributive in nature.

h. The Numsa NEC was mindful of the heavy responsibility NUMSA members (who are members of the ANC in their own right) hav to defend working class interests in the ANC 53rd Conference, in Mangaung, in December this year.

Accordingly the NUMSA NEC acknowledged the position adopted by the Cosatu Special CEC of 15-16 October 2012 on the leadership question of the ANC in Mangaung, and tasked the Numsa NOBs, working through Cosatu, to ensure that at least 30 NEC members of the ANC after Mangaung have a clear working class bias.

B. The global and national contexts of our times:

The NEC noted the worsening crisis of global capitalism. It is clear that the United States, Western Europe and the big economies of Asia are all in deep crisis. This crisis of course is affecting the rest of the world.

For the working class, the system of capitalism guarantees them a life of permanent crisis, as they can live only when their labour is bought! They are always paid a tiny fraction of their labour power.

Capitalism expropriates the bulk of their labour power, and converts it into profits for themselves. For the working class, it is not important whether the system of wage slavery called capitalism is doing well or not – they still suffer exploitation and oppression at the hands of the bosses.

Everywhere we look today there are glaring manifestations of the inherent chronic failures of capitalism in our country and everywhere in the world. These signs of disastrous failure are now firmly anchored in the heartland of capitalism itself – in the United States (US) and Western Europe.

The world is clearly in the vicious grip of the last gasps of US and Western European inspired capitalism. In South Africa, the crisis of the global capitalist system simply makes worse the already existing crisis of Colonialism of a Special Type.

This ugly reality of capitalist barbarity, combined with our untransformed colonial economy and society, has sharply worsened the conditions of the working class and the poor as evidenced by daily violent service delivery protests in our communities, growing dissenting voices against the system in demand of housing, water, food, decent jobs and free education by the working class and the poor.

The situation is socially and economically very traumatic among the millions of our youths who cannot find work.

NUMSA maintains that this is the global and national context which explains the Marikana massacre – a deteriorating global and local capitalist economy which increasingly will resort to bloody violence to “discipline” the working class in order to defend its falling profits.

The just released Census 2011 for South Africa has confirmed our socio-economic analysis and the horrible conditions of the black working class in general, and African working class in particular.

C. Revolutionary times and the need for maximum working class revolutionary unity

The world capitalist system is lurching from one major crisis to another, further, in the meantime through neo-liberal restructuring of the work place destroying millions of jobs and human livelihoods and throwing human communities into violence; pollution of rivers, land and lakes; accelerating global warming; exorbitantly rising food, oil and energy prices – all these of course simply lead to the deterioration of human life.

Global mass unemployment, the shift in industrial dominance from the West to the East, the destruction of immediate post-colonial gains of independent Africa and the resultant mass poverty and hunger on the Continent – all these have combined with the acutely recognised intellectual, theoretical and ideological bankruptcy of neo-liberalism.

We indeed are living in dire straits of the Western inspired capitalist greed and its system of capitalism!

In South Africa, the black and African working class are now everywhere openly rejecting the low, colonial and super exploitative wages. These extremely inferior and low wages are no longer able to assure the black and African working class of the barest existence, so that they may continue to serve the interests of the bosses.

Everywhere – in mines, factories, government offices, schools, farms, homes – the low colonial wages of Black and African workers are causing major agitation among the working class, leading to the rendering of collective bargaining processes useless. Obviously these pose major challenges for established unions, everywhere in the South African economy.

In order to ensure that NUMSA remains relevant to its members during these revolutionary times, the NEC has charged every NUMSA union official, every Shopsteward, all elected leaders return to the basics of revolutionary trade unionism as perfectly captured in the NUMSA Constitution: This means always putting the member first, the worker, both at the shop floor and in the broader community.

For Numsa, as always, it is back to basics as we work among the members so that we fully connect with them and attend to their needs and aspirations.

D. The miners’ strike, the Marikana workers massacre and the threat to the unity of the working class in South Africa

The NEC recognised the grave dangers to the unity of the working class in South Africa, especially among the Black and African working class, post the Marikana massacre.

In this regard, the NEC cautioned against erroneously labelling striking and dismissed miners, irrespective of the trade union formation that may or may not be organising them, as counter-revolutionaries.

More than at any other time in the post 1994 period in South Africa, the revolutionary unity of ALL the South African workers is sacrosanct in order to face the grave threat to their lives from a crisis ridden national and global capitalist onslaught on the working class.

This has never been so urgent. A divided, fractured, disorganised and disunited South African working class is just what both local and imperialist capitalists are praying for, everyday!

The NUMSA NEC strongly advises, especially formations of the broad Liberation Movement, to stop loosely labelling sections of the working class “counter-revolutionary” as this is not only analytically and ideologically wrong from a working class perspective, but it simply serves to dangerously and violently divide the working class at a time when their combined might and their revolutionary unity is urgently needed to survive and defeat a rotten national and global capitalist system.

The NUMSA NEC charged the NOBs to ensure that NUMSA fully participates in the Cosatu Programme of Action as endorsed at the 11th Cosatu National Congress.

NUMSA fully supports the demands of the striking miners. The continuing low colonial wages in the mines for Black and African workers simply serve to confirm the urgent need to nationalise all strategic mines.

Clearly, the massive mineral wealth of this country cannot continue to be syphoned off to Europe and the United States while leaving the bulk of the South African working class in extreme poverty, even when they are employed in the mines!

NUMSA will continue to consistently demand that ALL dismissed miners who were on unprotected strikes must be re-instated in their jobs unconditionally, and without delay.

E. NUMSA and the 2012 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS)

At NUMSA we have consistently maintained that the failure to transform South Africa’s economy and society from Colonialism of a Special Type into a truly democratic and egalitarian society as properly captured in the Freedom Charter means that no amount of reformist tinkering with any variables of the economy and society will lead to any meaningful transformation of South Africa in the best interests of all its people.

NUMSA has consistently demanded for the full implementation of the Freedom Charter, as the only road map to a truly free South Africa.

At NUMSA we have maintained that as long as the twin evils of foreign, imperialist exploitation and white domination continue to characterise the economy and society of South Africa, no amount of hogwash will miraculously resolve the condition of extreme inequalities, mass poverty and widespread national unemployment.

We have argued that foreign and imperialist exploitation and domination is premised on suppressing the wages of the majority of South Africans who are black and African, thus plunging them into poverty and guaranteeing that they for ever are economically and socially unequal to the white population.

No amount of psychological and philosophical sophistry can conceal or erase this brutal fact: colonial and apartheid capitalism was based on the system of supper exploitation of Black and African workers, thus making them poor, and on the economic inequality of the races with the white population of course dominating in both the economy and society.

After 100 years of struggle against foreign imperialist domination and white colonial exploitation, we expected the ANC in government to have a singular and undivided focus on dismantling the systems and structures of foreign domination and white oppression by simply fully and radically implementing the Freedom Charter – all of it.

Only this would have, 18 years after 1994, brought us closer to a country that would have been well on its way to erasing mass poverty, extreme inequalities and dangerous levels of unemployment.

The colonial situation of the black and African working class and the rural poor masses has worsened with the deepening global crisis of capitalism.

We were expecting, therefore, especially after the Marikana massacre of the mining workers, the deepening protests in all municipalities by working class communities against poor services, the deepening and violent protests of the working class over the continuing low colonial wages after 1994, the widespread violent unprotected strikes on the mines, the horrible conditions of life of our rural populations – we were expecting the 2012 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement to focus on announcing measures that would clearly show that the ANC government, at 100 years, can and is responding to these multi-layered crises our economy and society is faced with.

Minister of Finance Mr. Pravin Gordhan says the country is not in terminal crisis, when he presented the MTBPS. Rather, Mr. Gordhan spends a lot of time arguing that South African is financially sound, and that it was wrong for the rating agencies to downgrade South Africa.

We find this characterisation of South Africa – essentially that there is no crisis – thoroughly worker insensitive and horribly wrong.

Which South Africa is Mr. Gordhan talking about, and for who? The fact that his government on 16th of August massacred 34 workers who were part of thousands of miners protesting the continuing low colonial wages for black and South African workers does not constitute a crisis for our Minister of Finance, let alone a signal for a terminal crisis!

Whose class interests does Mr. Gordhan represent? Clearly not the interests of the majority of the people of this country, who are the Black and African working class. Clearly working class interest does not matter much.

Gordhan’s MTBPS is at pains to assure the credit agencies and local and foreign capitalist that:

i. There will be no extra money spent by government, despite the glaring social crisis South Africa is suffering from;

ii. That government spending will be monitored for wastage;

iii. That the growth of the government wage bill needs to be contained, and he is unhappy with above inflation salaries awarded to public workers;

iv. That the “private sector” must come to the party, and stop “boycotting” South Africa in order to fast track infrastructure development; and

v. Essentially that South Africa is fiscally sound, for the private sector.

Of course all the major opposition parties welcomed the MTBPS. It after all, perfectly captured their fears and represented their interests!

The fundamental question is: who is Mr. Gordhan’s real constituency?

None of the core demands of the working class have been addressed including:

• Measures to accelerate the growth of the publicly owned share of the economy;

• Measures to lower interest rates in favour of local manufacturing;

• Capital controls to limit the flooding of speculative capital into the South African economy, thereby controlling the rampant volatility of the Rand;

• Decisive measures by government itself to kick start and upscale countrywide the infrastructure development, without relying on a private sector that has been boycotting South Africa and withholding its funds;

• Measures to accelerate the expansion of the redistributive measures designed to liberate the South African economy from the Minerals/Energy/Finance Complex and the inevitable domination of South Africa by the white complex;

• Measures to punish all those who fail to comply with the Local Content Accord;

• Measures to ensure that the Reserve Bank places decent job creation and industrialisation at the heart of its mandate to protect the value of the Rand;

• Fast track the countrywide implementation of the NHI and so on.

The MTBPS is weak on issues of procurement, local content and local production in spite of assurances that the Ministry plans to implement rigorous procurement reforms complemented by plans to establish a chief procurement officer.

In NUMSA we are aware that the awarding of rolling stock contracts to Chinese and local BBBEE consortiums by Transnet shall harm the local industry leading to the loss of some 2000 jobs in Union Carriage (a local manufacturing company that designs and manufactures locomotives and coaches), as well as a significant job losses in downstream industries.

While the Department of Trade and Industry considers the designation of Solar Water Heaters (SWH), municipalities are hurriedly dishing out contracts to companies that rely on imported units rather than locally produced SWH and components.

This flies in the face of commitments given by several state departments (DoE, DTI, EDD, DEA) to roll out 1million SWH by 2014, consolidate our local SWH industry and create decent work opportunities in the emerging Renewable Energy sector.

As a trade union that represents over 300 000 members in the manufacturing sector, we do not believe that the country can be built on the basis of commitments alone and that a radical reconfiguration of our economy is required based on more public ownership of our natural resources and the redistribution of wealth that underpins both the Freedom Charter (1955) and the Reconstruction and Development Programme (1994) as the basis of our economic freedom.

In this context COSATU and NUMSA have repeatedly called for more state intervention in the economy and for the country to adopt a developmental agenda that is consistent with the objectives set out in the Freedom Charter and the RDP.

Over the years the trade union federation and its affiliates have repeatedly called for the more state control over the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), scrapping of high interest rates, tighter exchange controls and the removal of inflation targeting as an instrument to stabilise prices.

NUMSA believes that increased public spending is necessary to sustain growth in areas of education, health, housing and transport. In Numsa we argue that industrial and trade policy should not be delinked from patterns of state spending in critical sectors of our economy.

NUMSA notes that the Minister of Finance has negatively made several references to the public sector wage bill and that the recent three-year public service wage settlement provides for “above-inflation increases in salaries” and that strong measures are needed for more effective controls over personnel expenditure.

This reflects a fundamental lack of understanding of the fundamental tasks demanded of a developmental state still steeped in its colonial moorings.

Further, this is an attack on the public sector working class designed to single them out as being responsible for government’s fiscal problems and “lack of funds” for development.

NUMSA believes that for public service employees to be effective not only should salaries be acceptable, but there is also a need to ensure that the many vacant posts are filled in the public service.

There is, historically, nothing new in this anti-public sector workers stance: all post-colonial nationalist governments that abandoned their revolutionary project and adopted the positions of the former colonizers immediately upon assumption of office have gone to war with the public sector – because they see it as impeding “private sector accumulation” because of the government’s “wage bill”.

They do not see the colonial social crisis which the government must attack by, among other things, properly and adequately paying public sector workers.

Whilst the Minister has pronounced on the government rolling stock, we are perplexed by the fact that a big tender has been awarded by Transnet to a Chinese company undermining the procurement accord as signed by social partner’s government included.

The failure on the side of the Minister to pronounce on this scandalous behaviour which may lead to many manufacturing jobs being lost is unforgivable! This is sprinkled in the MTBPS quotes from the National Development Plan – another woolly production from those who seek to send the workers to sleep.

There is the plea to all South Africans to join together and tackle the challenges confronting South Africa. Meanwhile, all the measures announced largely favour the status quo, including the painful fact that this is not an expansionary MTBPS! More than anything else, post 1994, South African budgets have confirmed the following observation, made by the SACP in 1989:

“The South African capitalist state did not emerge as a result of an internal popular anti-feudal revolution. It was imposed from above and from without.

From its birth through to the present, South African capitalism has depended heavily on the imperialist centres. Capital from Europe financed the opening of the mines. It was the colonial state that provided the resources to build the basic infrastructure – railways, roads, harbours, posts and telegraphs.

It was an imperial army of occupation that created the conditions for political unification. And it was within a colonial setting that the emerging South African capitalist class entrenched and extended the racially exclusive system to increase its opportunities for profit.

The racial division of labour, the battery of racist laws and political exclusiveness guaranteed this. From these origins a pattern of domination, which arose in the period of external colonialism, was carried over into the newly-formed Union of South Africa.

From its origins to the present, this form of domination has been maintained under changing conditions and by varying mechanisms. In all essential respects, however, the colonial status of the black majority has remained in place. Therefore we characterise our society as colonialism of a special type.”
 
We at NUMSA invite Mr. Gordhan to pay particular attention, and ponder over, the last three sentences of the quote above:

“From its origins to the present, this form of domination has been maintained under changing conditions and by varying mechanisms. In all essential respects, however, the colonial status of the black majority has remained in place. Therefore we characterise our society as colonialism of a special type.”

At NUMSA we are not surprised that the Minister of Finance is more worried about the financial rating agencies, and he tailors his MTBPS to suite them.
We understand that South African capitalism has depended heavily on the imperialist centres.

Capital from Europe financed the opening of the mines. Today, the possibility of this capital flight or boycotting South Africa terrorises Minister Gordhan and the class he represents.

Gordhan’s MTBPS, like all post 1994 budgets, rather than littering them with empty pontifical rhetoric enjoining all South Africans to achieve the impossible, should have been aiming to abolish the colonial status of the black majority.

F. NUMSA and the November Cosatu Central Committee Meeting (CC)

NUMSA stands ready, in the November Cosatu CC to work for the implementation of the Cosatu 11th National Congress Programme of Action as captured in the Cosatu Declarations and Resolutions of the Congress.

NUMSA has, as mentioned above, already tabled its Demands before Cosatu and we are happy to report that they were accepted, in the main.

G. NUMSA and Mangaung

As already noted above, on the leadership question of the ANC in Mangaung, NUMSA will work within the constitutional decisions of Cosatu.

We shall do what we can to push for at least a minimum of 30 ANC NEC members, who must be unequivocally pro working class.

We shall, in the structures of the ANC in which Cosatu participates such as the Economic Transformation Commission (ETC), work to ensure that we contest for working class content of the economic programme of the Second Phase of the National Democratic Revolution.

We want to caution those who, 18 years after 1994, with the massive evidence of the failed neoliberal policies and an untransformed Apartheid capitalist economy, both of which continue to deepen and worsen mass unemployment, extreme poverty and Olympic Gold Medal levels of inequality in South Africa still want to be leaders in the ANC in Mangaung in order to continue to take us along this disastrous path: they should not seek re-election!

We, the working class of South Africa, the low, colonial wage sufferers have declared that enough is enough. We want change, real and fundamental change in our lives!

Issued by NUMSA NEC,
November 1st, 2012

Contact:

Castro Ngobese, National Spokesperson – 083 627 5197