NUMSA commemorates the 100 year anniversary of the Russian Revolution

Numsa mourns the passing away of comrade Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

8 April 2018, Posted in Press Releases

The 350 000 Metalworkers and their families mourns the passing away of the Mother of the Nation. We dip our red banner in honour of Comrade Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela-Mandela and send our condolences to her family, friends and all those who were touched by her revolutionary life. Comrade Winnie was a towering inferno, a Kilimanjaro of a woman who kept the flame of the liberation struggle alive during the dark days of Apartheid. She was fearless against the ruthless Apartheid security police who launched an unrelenting attack on her and her family in an attempt to break her.

Comrade Winnie kept the memory of Nelson Mandela alive when he was jailed for fighting against the racist National Party government. She bravely confronted the apartheid police, regularly defying her banning orders in order to ensure that the flame of freedom never died out. There should be no confusion: comrade Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was produced by the concrete, brutal and inhuman conditions that were forced upon the African majority by the Apartheid racist colonial capitalist regime. This racist, white male dominated system economically marginalised, dispossessed, oppressed and exploited the black and African worker. This system was supported by the global imperialist system.  

Comrade Winnie was a warrior. She carried an unwavering belief that the working class in all the dusty squatter camps, faced with inferior infrastructure, Bantu education, racist pass laws, influx control, and with absolutely no access to basic needs, and discriminated against on the basis of their race, gender and nationality, was capable of liberating itself. She had a burning belief that workers and their families could unite and make South Africa ungovernable and defeat the white racist regime of PW Botha. She led from the front in mobilizing them as a conquering force. She gave the black masses of this country political confidence that they could organise themselves into defence units which could protect them from the racist police and army.


Comrade Winnie was the commander-in-chief of all urban guerrilla struggles in Apartheid South Africa. Her fierce political consciousness and her resoluteness were shaped by the consistent brutal attacks of the racist police, on the black and African majority, which they were killing and jailing by the thousands. She was different from other leaders. She did not analyse the balance of forces from a distance, far away from the theatre of war. She was in the actual theatre of struggle to make South Africa ungovernable and to cement in the masses the belief that freedom was possible in their lifetime and all that they had to do was to be resolute in pursuit of the race, gender, national and class struggle.

These struggles were championed by the important axis of our revolution: the working class, the youth and Communists. She was there in taking the four pillars of the struggle forward through mass mobilization, the armed struggle, in the underground structures of the movement and the isolation of South Africa.


She was at the forefront of the consumer boycotts, bus boycotts and working class strikes in the form of ‘stay-aways’. She did this without asking permission from the racist regime. She believed in taking orders from the masses and provided leadership. She had faith in the power of the black and African working class as a force to liberate itself from the oppressor and exploiter. Her heart and her roots have always been with the working class, and she demonstrated this in her life.

 The Apartheid regime failed to read the signs of the time and the revolutionary tsunami that was present in the masses of our country as symbolised by Comrade Winnie. This is similar to how capitalism and imperialism 100 years ago, failed to read the rising tide of communism among the revolutionary working class that has since been haunting Europe and the rest of the world, and led to the 1917 October Socialist Revolution in Russia.

The impossible evil mission of the racist regime involved all the dirty tactics such as hit squads, violent thugs that were led by ‘impimpi’ (informers), who would carry out operations where they would kill people in townships to promote black on black violence and to smear and to stigmatize leaders such Comrade Winnie. When all their strategies and tactics failed, they banished her to Brandfort in the Free State.

Forced to live in isolation with her youngest daughter Zinzi, she was regularly harassed, detained and even tortured, and languished in solitary confinement for 18 months. She paid a heavy price for the struggle. But in spite of all the suffering she endured, she was a warrior for the cause, to the end.             Even after 1994 when the Apartheid system came to an end, she remained uncompromising in her quest to see true liberation for the working-class majority in South Africa. Till the end she was very critical of the negotiated settlement at CODESA, which gave Africans empty political power, but robbed them of any economic power – the real basis of genuine political power. She advocated for the dumping of neoliberal policies, such as GEAR and the abolition of the racist structure of the South African economy that remains untransformed.  

Throughout the years of intensification of the dirty war by the racist regime imposed onto our people Comrade Winnie was very smart in agitating the masses of the people on how to fight back and to develop strategies which were befitting of every moment. We remember how she agitated the people against the brutality of the Apartheid system in the 1980’s when she said:

This is now the right time. We shall use the same language the Boers are using against us. They know only one language: the language of the Casper. We have no arms. We have stones, we have boxes of matches.

Her words have been deliberately misinterpreted by some in order to further the racist agenda of her detractors. With these words she was reminding workers and their families that regardless of the weapons which the Apartheid government had fashioned for their destruction, they had weapons of their own too. She was calling on them to mobilize and unite and they would succeed in tearing down the apartheid regime with their bare hands.

 Those that benefitted economically from the racist Apartheid system, continue to do so. Their accumulation strategy in the new dispensation continues by other means. The structure of the South African economy and society has remained untransformed and blacks in general and Africans in particular have not been affirmed in the ownership and control of the economy.


The land question has not been addressed and there is no job led industrial strategy. As a result, black and African workers continue to languish in poverty, unemployment and inequality, whilst the white minority remains dominant in the economy. African households still earn five times less than their white counterparts, and the JSE is dominated by white ownership. These are the continuing conditions which sustain racism in post-Apartheid South Africa. Comrade Winnie was known for her brutal and honest criticism of the compromises and the concession which the ANC government made in order to please White Monopoly Capital and imperialism.

 As we mourn her passing, we are forced to remember the many ways in which the ANC government has attacked the working class and their families. CODESA and the negotiated settlement are just one of the ways that this Black government has sold out workers and their families.

The ANC government’s negotiated capitalist transition and its neo-liberal macro-economic policies have been extremely disastrous for the working class. Poverty, unemployment and inequality have deepened exacerbating the suffering of the black and African working class. Today, more than half the South African population lives in abject poverty; 37 per cent of the working class is unemployed; and the African working class – especially African youths and women – continues to be the lowest paid in all sectors. The implementation of e-tolls; failure to ban labour brokers and the violence with which the state has responded to service delivery protests reflects the contempt and hostile attitude the state has towards the black and African workers and their families.


Today, the ANC government has unleashed a new weapon on workers by proposing changes to the labour law to limit the right to strike. This is the ultimate betrayal and treachery of the ANC. In response to this brutal, capitalist and neoliberal government and its policies, we are organising all workers to join us on the 25th of April as we fight the battle for our survival. We call on all workers to join us as on the general strike in order to stop the state from taking away this constitutional right. We must remind them, as comrade Winnie did, that ultimate power resides with the working class. We will defeat them, like we defeated Apartheid.

 As we mourn Comrade Winnie, we are reminded that there is still much work to be done. We are not yet free. Now more than ever, it is important for workers to unite and fight the onslaught against us. As NUMSA we will never forget the lessons which comrade Winnie left for us. We will continue to fight the battle for Socialism in her honour and in her memory until we achieve the life of genuine dignity and equality which is what we fought for, under Apartheid. We have resolved that the only way to successfully complete the struggles of all our genuine revolutionary struggle heroes and heroines including Winnie Madikizela, is to unite all the working class into the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party. We must continue to fight and we must win the struggle for a Socialist South Africa.

 Aluta continua!

The struggle continues!                                

Issued by Irvin Jim

NUMSA General Secretary

 For more information please contact:

Phakamile Hlubi-Majola

NUMSA Acting Spokesperson