NUMSA commemorates the 100 year anniversary of the Russian Revolution

Post NUMSA 9th National Congress Press Statement

12 June 2012, Posted in NUMSA Congress, Press Releases

Post NUMSA 9th National Congress Press Statement

VMC Centre, Johannesburg, 12th June 2012


“The struggle for national democracy is also an expression of the class contradiction between the black and democratic forces on the one hand, and the monopoly capitalists on the other. The stranglehold of a small number of white monopoly capitalists over the great bulk of our country's wealth and resources is based on colonial dispossession and promotes racial oppression. This concentration of wealth and power perpetuates the super-exploitation of millions of black workers. It perpetuates the separate plight of millions of the landless rural poor. And it blocks the advance of black business and other sectors of the oppressed. This reality, therefore, forms the basis of the antimonopoly content of the national democratic programme.”
(The Path to Power, SACP, 1989)

“The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains.
They have a world to win. Proletarians of all countries unite!”

(The Communist Manifesto, 1848)

A. Introduction

The Numsa 9th National Congress held from the 4th to the 8th June 2012 has been a great success by all accounts.

Six months before the Congress and during the Congress itself, Numsa engaged the political, economic, social, cultural, organisational and international contexts and challenges, which today define the space we live in as a union.

A lot of work went into preparing our reports, discussion documents and other necessary materials and logistical requirements for the Congress. We are proud to announce to the country that we had a most productive and successful Congress!

As a large and socialist revolutionary trade union, Numsa was aware that there was great local and international interest in our Congress. We are, therefore, happy to congratulate all our members, Shopstewards and all leaders of Numsa at all levels for maintaining maximum revolutionary unity and discipline. This enabled us to stay focused on the strategic objectives of our Congress.

B. Newly Elected Numsa Leadership

We are happy to announce the elections results of NUMSA National Office Bearers as elected by the 9th Numsa National Congress, at iNkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre (ICC), Durban, KwaZulu-Natal province:

1. President: Cedric Gina

2. 1st Deputy President: Andrew Chirwa

3. 2nd Deputy President: Christine Olivier

4. National Treasurer: Mphumzi Maqungo

5. General Secretary: Irvin Jim

6. Deputy General Secretary: Karl Cloete

We thank Comrade Phil Bokaba, an experienced and tested leader of Numsa who was our 1st Deputy President who opted not to seek re-election for personal reasons. We shall not hesitate to call on him, whenever the need arises. Comrade Phil Shiburi, who was our National Treasurer, also opted to serve the metalworkers in other capacities and did not stand for re-election. We shall always rely on their experience.

We welcome Comrades Andrew Chirwa and Mphumzi Maqungo into the National Office Bearers family. Numsa is confident that this NOB collective will steer the ship well in the next four years.

C. Appreciations

We want to thank the General Secretary of the SACP, Comrade Blade Nzimande, for gracing our Congress and for his revolutionary message. Comrade Nzimande must rest assure himself metalworkers love the SACP, and when we make comments about the SACP we do so from a position of love, respect and a desire to see our political vanguard, the SACP, always strong.

We will do what we can to meet as soon as possible, as a newly elected leadership of Numsa, with the national leadership of the SACP, to deepen our engagement on all the matters the SACP General Secretary raised in our Congress, including the matter of leadership of the SACP itself.

We are grateful to Comrade Tyoto James, First Vice President of Cosatu, for his presence and speech to our Congress. Cosatu must know that Numsa will remain forever committed to the unity and defence of the Federation.

Through their attendance Comrade Sidumo Dlamini our President of Cosatu and Comrade Frieda Oosthuisen National Treasurer of Cosatu came to support our Congress. The 2nd Deputy President of Cosatu, Comrade Zingiswa Losi attended the Numsa 9th National Congress in her own right as an accredited Numsa delegate. We appreciate the presence of the Cosatu National Office Bearers which included a courtesy visit of the Cosatu General Secretary, Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi.

Many leaders of affiliates of Cosatu attended our Congress. We are grateful.

Comrade Jacob Zuma – President of the ANC and of South Africa left his busy schedule to come and be with us. We appreciate this.

The key message of the President of the ANC to our Congress was that: the working class have only themselves to blame if they do not, like all other classes, struggle to lead the ANC. The newly elected national leadership of Numsa, working within the relevant structures of Numsa and the entire ANC led alliance, will attend to the call made by Comrade Zuma at our Congress.

Numsa is confident that indeed the ANC will approach the Mangaung Conference in a spirit perhaps larger than that which characterised the birth of the ANC 100 years ago. Today, the ANC is 18 years in existence as a governing party and, having stabilised the political climate in South Africa, it must address the question of uprooting Colonialism of a Special Type and its effects, on the entire country and its people.

Numsa will do its part, through its members who are also members of the ANC, to ensure that we secure some victories for the working class in the ANC this year.

Both Comrades Ebrahim Patel and Rob Davies addressed our Congress in relation to infrastructure development, the new growth path and re-industrialisation of our country. Numsa has not concealed its reservations over the pace and content of work on the New Growth Path and the crafting of a new industrial strategy for South Africa.

Congress re-affirms the decisions of the structures of Numsa that until such time as the country truly embarks upon a revolutionary growth path in favour of the poor and the working class and until National Treasury makes money available in support of the work these two ministers to support manufacturing and decent jobs creation, the work of these ministers will be in vain.

D. The Freedom Charter

Numsa is inviting all South Africans to read the Freedom Charter. It is no longer a banned document. It is the basis for constructing a truly equal, democratic, non-sexist and non-racial South Africa, in which we shall all live as brothers and sisters, side by side.

The Freedom Charter is a document all South Africans must own. For us, the Freedom Charter gave birth to most of the progressive elements embedded in the 1996 democratic Constitution of South Africa.

Numsa, in line with the Freedom Charter demands, demand that nationalisation of the Reserve Bank, mines, land, strategic and monopoly industries without compensation must take place with speed, if we are to avoid sliding into anarchy and violence as a result of the cruel impact of the continuing Colonialism of a Special Type which breeds poverty, unemployment and extreme inequalities in South Africa today.

We will soon host a Numsa National Policy Conference to further elaborate on our Congress Resolutions and the recently published Numsa Policy Discussion Documents, and to formulate policies for the next four years, for our union.

E. Numsa and Alliance Constitutional Processes this year

Numsa wishes the ANC, SACP and Cosatu the very best over their constitutional processes this year. We know that the conferences and congresses of these formations this year can only lead to a more united, radical and fighting alliance, in the best interests of all the people of South Africa in general and the working class and the poor in particular.

We are convinced, in particular, that the SACP will emerge from its Congress stronger and better able to lead us to a Socialist Republic of South Africa.

In Numsa, we are confident Cosatu will emerge united, stronger and a better shield of the working class. We are confident that Cosatu will use this year’s Congress to fast track the implementation of its Vision 2015, especially considering that we now have only three years left before this Vision is reviewed.

Numsa knows that going forward in the next four years we have work to do, at the international level. We are looking forward to contribute to the merger of the WFTU and the ITUC into one mega Global Union Federation.
As this happens, we will continue to place the question of socialism in all the international fora and institution we participate in.

Numsa is confident that, following the tradition established after the 2008 8th Numsa National Congress, the NOBs, the Central Committee, Regional Office Bearers, Local Office Bearers and all structures of the Union will do what they can to implement the resolutions of this Congress.

F. The Context of our Congress

National Congress was fully cognisant that as we met, thousands of workers were being thrown out of their jobs in Greece, Spain and other parts of the globe as a result of the global capitalist crisis.

Delegates were acutely aware of the effects of decades of neo-liberal restructuring that has led to:

• Rising food, oil and energy prices
• Global mass unemployment
• Mass poverty and hunger in Africa
• Environmental degradation and global warming
• Wars by predatory powers.

Numsa Congress delegates were well aware of the effects of the continuing Colonialism of a Special Type in South Africa post 1994 and its cruel effects: the triple crisis of unemployment, poverty and inequality in our country.

Reports to National Congress confirmed what all black and African South African workers feel and know, among others, the following:

• The bottom 50% of the South African population live on 8% of national income and that the top 50% live on 92% of national income
• 44% of workers in South Africa live on less than R10 a day and there is general mass poverty in the country
• That as a result of the economic crisis, South Africa has lost more than 1,7 million jobs since the beginning of the recession in 2008.
• Unemployment has therefore increased from 21.8% in 2005 to 25% in the first quarter of 2012. These levels are more acute amongst youth, African workers and particularly amongst African women.
• The life expectancy of South Africans was the highest in 1992, at 62 years. Ever since then life expectancy fell to 50 years in 2006.
• The scourge of unemployment affects the youth the most. Of the unemployed 72 percent are young people aged between 15 and 34 years of age. Of the unemployed youth, 78 percent are African.
• Of the people who have no income at all, it is estimated that 90% are African and 5% are White.
What pains us is that these challenges are continuing 18 years after the democratic breakthrough in 1994. We have been forced to conclude that the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) whose aim is to uproot the special colonial situation in South Africa and thus address race, class and gender contradictions is not on track.

As a union that sees as its focus both as the plight of its members on the shopfloor and the social, economic and political interests of the broader working class, in our 9th National Congress we took resolutions that address the above challenges.

We also used the National Congress to re-assert the revolutionary character of the union. This was necessary as the Congress coincided with our 25th anniversary. In doing this we are inspired by the ongoing courageous struggles of workers in the Middle East, Europe, Latin America, Asia, Northern Africa and the rest of the continent.

We are confident that we emerged out of the Numsa 9th National Congress, with a programme that will not only guide the union for the next four years, but will set a solid foundation for the next 25-years.

G. NUMSA’s Programme for the Coming Period

The 9th Numsa National Congress adopted a programme for the coming period with the following four pillars:

1. Political Programme

Our political programme has the following elements:

1.1 Measures to put the NDR on track
1.2 The fullest and most resolute implementation of the Freedom Charter by our ANC government
1.3 Unifying the left formations in our country
1.4 Engaging with the notion of the second transition
1.5 Working class leadership of the ANC
1.6 Deepening democracy.

1.1. Measures to put the NDR on track:

Congress was of the view that the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) remains relevant and is the most direct route to socialism. We strongly feel that the NDR must be put back on track. In this respect Congress has adopted a broad range of resolutions that:

1. Reaffirm NUMSA’s commitment to build a strong and united Alliance led by the African National Congress
2 Commits Numsa to swelling the ranks of the ANC and the South African Communist Party. We have responded positively to the invitation of the President of the ANC for the federation and its affiliates to participate in the leadership structures of the ANC, including occupying seats in its highest decision making structure, i.e. the National Executive Committee.
3 We reassert that the working class remains the motive force of the NDR. This is vital given the fact that the ANC is a multiclass organisation representing divergent views and interests.
4 To build a strong SACP and improve relations between the union and the Party. Our Congress strongly believed that to achieve this, the key positions at all levels of the SACP must be fulltime.
5 Congress also calls on the forthcoming SACP national congress to evaluate the experiences of Voting District branches to determine whether this has assisted in ensuring that we build a strong SACP with a politically-conscious cadreship.

1.2 The fullest and most resolute implementation of the Freedom Charter by our ANC government

The Numsa 9th National Congress confirmed that the Freedom Charter is the policy document of the ANC and therefore our ANC government must as matter urgency drive the execution of all aspects of the Freedom Charter. In this regard Numsa members in their own right as members of the ANC are directed by National Congress drive this resolution in ANC branches, ANC National Policy Conference, SACP National Congress, Cosatu National Congress and ANC National Conference in Mangaung. A failure to do so shall see the deepening of the triple crises of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

1.3 Unifying the left formations in our country

Delegates of the Congress were insistent that the working class must be united to drive the struggle for a Socialist South Africa. In this regard we call on Cosatu to implement the longstanding resolution in relation to the convening of the Conference of the Left.

1.4 Engaging with the notion of the second transition

Congress appreciated the ANC’s discussion document on the second transition which seeks to make an argument that the past 18 years did not yield transfer and redistribution of wealth and land to the black majority in general and the working class in particular. Congress further reaffirms that the second decade of our freedom has been more beneficial to white monopoly capital and a tiny black elite at the expense of the working class and the poor as is witnessed in the triple crises of poverty, unemployment and inequality. To this end Congress calls on government, national treasury in particular, to dump GEAR and to transform the colonial character of the South African Economy.

1.5 Working class leadership of the ANC

The Numsa 9th National Congress resolved to allow the Numsa structures, at the right time, to engage on who should lead the African National Congress on the basis that we have an interest that working class leadership must emerge with in the ANC. Congress resolved that the working class is the motive force of the NDR and that this cannot be earned by declaration but in working class struggle.

The Numsa 9th National Congress re-affirmed the Cosatu 2007 Central Committee principles and characteristics of the kind of leadership that is required to make the second decade, truly a decade in the interest of the working class which must translate into the following;

a) A commitment to a radical NDR and thorough-going transformation of society.
b) A proven commitment to the Alliance and asserting the hegemonic position of the working class as a primary motive force.
c) Are committed to the unity of the ANC, the Alliance and the democratic movement.
d) Are committed to make this decade truly a decade of workers and the poor and galvanise the progressive forces of the liberation movement and working with progressive elements of civil society.
e) Have an anti imperialist and internationalist character.
f) Have a struggle record and are politically experienced.

1.6 Deepening democracy

Congress believed that Ward Committees should be representative of all sectors in society and Councillors should be compelled to meet and report back to communities at least once a month. We also resolved to hold a post Congress Central Committee seminar on the Transformation of the Judiciary with a focus on the Discussion document on the transformation of the judicial system and the role of the judiciary in the developmental South African State published by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development in February 2012. In line with this decision, this 9th National Congress of NUMSA supports the decision taken by COSATU at its CEC meeting to oppose the Traditional Courts Bill as it presents a serious threat to the rights of citizens and women in rural areas.

2. Socio-economic Platform

The 9th Numsa National Congress was of the firm view that what is required in South Africa today is a revolutionary socio-economic platform to move the country from its rootedness in Colonialism of a Special Type, if we are to address the deep-seated socio-economic ill affecting the country. Delegates strongly believed that the following measures, among others, are necessary to achieve this:
• Revisit the 1996 Constitution in order to amend Section 25 to allow for radical redistribution and expropriation without compensation in the public interest;
• Nationalisation of strategic economic centres, including the nationalisation of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB);
• Redistributive and job-led growth that breaks the dominance of the mineral-energy-finance complex;
• Rapid industrialisation and beneficiation programme;
• A massive housing and human settlement strategy; and
• Land and rural development programme.
To achieve these measures it will be necessary that existing State-Owned Enterprises (SoEs) that were privatised and corporatised are nationalised and re-socialised with Boards of Directors replaced by legislated governing councils representing constituencies and with a mandate to deliver social and economic services to society, particularly the poor. To achieve this, an audit of all privatised entities at all levels of government should be conducted.

Re-industrialisation will require greater investment in infrastructure, reliable electricity supply and the implementation of the Local Procurement Accord. We recognise that the government’s Special Economic Zones (SEZs) Bill is an attempt to do this but reject it in its current form because of its vagueness in describing the special arrangements and conditions that will exist in these designed areas.

On the issue of land we were unanimous in the belief that the land must be returned to the people of this country in accordance with the Freedom Charter and that expropriation without compensation must be complemented by abolishing the principle of ‘willing buyer – willing seller’.

To strengthen the union’s position on land, Congress has mandated the Numsa Central Committee (CC) to convene a post-congress workshop on Land, Land Redistribution, Rural Development and Agrarian Reform to address the issue of compensation and related matters.

The socio-economic platform that we proposed require that corruption is tackled as it continues to rob South Africans of important resources. We therefore commend COSATU’s ‘Corruption Watch’ initiative. However, much more needs to be done.

Lifestyle audits should be taken in all levels of the public sector, amongst political deployees including unionists.

We firstly demand that the abuse of tenders for the creation of criminal and corrupt elites of whatever race must be eradicated in the next five years.

The government needs to build a developmental public sector to run with much of the work that is put out to tender.

Government needs to use co-operatives to do some of its work, rather than using tenders.

Government projects must be tightly monitored to avoid poor workmanship and incomplete work.

3. Programme for International Work and Solidarity

On the international front, National Congress adopted the following programme:
a. Uniting workers of the world
b. Providing solidarity with struggling peoples around the world.

In our attempts to unite workers of the world, Congress came out in support of:
• The merger of IMF, ICEM and ITLGWF and the establishment of a new Global Union Federation (GUF) called Industrial All. Congress adopted a programme to make the new global union federation a real weapon of struggle.
• The NUMSA Central Committee decision to affiliate to the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) was endorsed.
• Congress adopted an anti-xenophobia programme that has at its centre regional development within SADC.
• Congress also agreed to launch solidarity campaigns with the people of Palestine, Swaziland and the last colony on the African continent – Western Sahara.

In relation to the people of Palestine, National Congress resolved:
• to continue to support the people of Palestine in their struggle for self-determination;
• to support the declaration by the Minister of Trade & Industry to label products produced in occupied as such;
• that the union will identify companies in NUMSA-organised sectors that do business with Israeli companies and enterprises and develop campaigns against them;
• put pressure on the South African government to close down the Israeli embassy in South Africa and recall our envoys from Israel.

In relation to Western Sahara, Congress condemned the occupation of the country by Morocco and to intensify the campaign to free the people of that country. On Swaziland, Congress condemns the banning of the union federation TUCOSWA and pledges to support the democratic forces in that country in general and the trade union in particular. NUMSA will continue to support and strengthen relations with our sister unions in that country.

Congress called for a democratically-elected government in Swaziland elected under a multi-party system. Our government must provide humanitarian support for Swazi liberation forces instead of rushing to offer loans to the regime. When loans are given they must have conditions that advance democratisation in Swaziland.

4. Programme for Organisational Renewal & Servicing of Members

A detailed organisational and administration report was presented to the Numsa 9th National Congress. This report amongst other things has shown that Numsa membership has grown by 14% to about 302 000. This growth was applauded by National Congress in the sense that this increase in membership took place when the economy was in crisis.

Congress took important decisions in relation to our union’s organisational capacity to service members. Among these were:

a) Strategies aimed at increasing our membership and deepening our presence in all workplaces. This will involve attracting more white-collar workers into our ranks and organising the unorganised. To this end we also agreed that resources must increasingly be made available at the local level in order to support local organisers, office bearers and shop stewards to carry out the crucial work on the shopfloor. This is part of our campaign to move the focus of the union’s work back to the locals, where it matters most.

b) Acknowledgement of the work of our union’s youth forum. This was reflected in the number of young workers, men and women who attended congress. It was also agreed that we need to develop strategies for people with disabilities within NUMSA and the industries in which the union organises. This work will be placed within the main organising, campaigns and collective bargaining operations.

c) Recognition of the need to build co-operatives as a mechanism to transform the economic structure of our society in favour of the workers and poor, tackle unemployment and inequality, and organise workers in non-exploitative work relationships as part of our long-term vision of a society free from all forms of oppression. In this regard as a union we have started building capacity, starting with the appointment of a national co-operatives co-ordinator.

d) Reaffirmation that education from ABET to skills training and political education, is one of the main pillars of our organisational growth, development and raising the political and theoretical consciousness levels of our members. To this end, education department was tasked with ensuring that such training and political education takes place on a regular basis.

e) Commitment to continue to campaign for better working conditions through amendments to labour legislation, economic policies and collective bargaining.

f) We further commit ourselves to continue to lead from the front in all COSATU campaigns.

g) Establishment of a strike fund. The National Office Bearers were instructed by congress to establish the necessary structures and rules for this fund as a matter of urgency and report back by December 2012 to the union’s Central Committee.

h) Support for the skills-based five grade system with automatic vertical mobility upon achievement of negotiated credits through skills programmes including recognition of prior learning. This will be one of the central pillars of our bargaining strategy in terms of which we are determined to face employers in the next major bargaining cycle in 2013.

i) Last but not least, Congress appreciated the fact that Numsa’s finances have been prudently managed over the past 4 years and for this reason Numsa is in a sound and healthy financial state.

5. Numsa as a campaigning, militant and revolutionary trade union

The Numsa 9th National Congress declared for all to know that we shall continue to be a campaigning, militant and revolutionary trade union. This well defined characterisation shall continue to shape our posture in the best interest of metalworkers and our working class. No amount of name calling or political blackmail shall deter us from executing the mandate of the Numsa 9th National Congress. In the coming period, Numsa will intensify the following campaigns;

(a) Fighting against the National Wage Subsidy in theory, substance and practice – In this regard the Numsa National Youth Forum shall interact with the YCL, ANCYL, SASCO and COSAS to develop a working class program for young people who are in constant economic poverty and unemployment.

(b) Fighting for the banning of Labour Brokers – Allowing labour brokers to exist is to undermine the Freedom Charter and therefore Numsa shall continue to call on Cosatu to champion the call for a ban of Labour Brokers.

(c) Scrapping e-tolling – The privatisation of our public roads cannot be justified by anyone. The Freedom Charter promises that the citizens of our country must have the freedom to move from country side to country side without restrictions.

(d) The need for government to dump GEAR – National Congress mandated the newly elected National Office Bearers to demand for the dumping of all aspects of GEAR that confine itself to a neo-liberal and Washington Consensus trajectory. The triple crises of unemployment, poverty and inequality are a direct consequence of accumulation path our country embarked upon. Numsa shall call for the declaration of a S77 dispute with a view to take a national strike action on the matter.

H. Conclusion

The delegates departed from the 9th Congress confident that Numsa is ready to face the next quarter of a Century and our immediate challenges.

25 years after the birth of the Union, marks not only a major milestone but is also a revolutionary turning point in our work on the shopfloor and in our communities, in order to advance the most advanced democracy ever known to humankind, socialism.

We are ready to organise, educate and mobilise the working class in their historic struggle against the system of capitalism which presses them down and feasts on their exploitation. The alternative for us, of course, is to starve and die!

Irvin Jim
Numsa General Secretary
12th June 2012.


Castro Ngobese, NUMSA National Spokesperson – 083 627 5197