Editorial Comment – Marx and Lenin on the Proletarian Revolution

The Communist Manifesto, a pamphlet drawn up by Marx and Lenin, says this about revolutions led by the proletariat: “While the proletariat is the only class whose interests are those of the vast majority, it will seek alliances with other classes at particular junctures, and support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things including struggles in other countries. This opens up the perspective of an unfolding world-wide struggle by a proletariat determined by its own special role but sensitive to the complexities of the struggle against capitalism in all its forms, and able to mobilise a range of popular forces against it.”

Against this background, we must continue to ask ourselves to what extent our actions in the union and outside of it as activists are advancing working class interests against capitalism.Currently we are witnessing battles that threaten to tear the ANC and its allies apart and reverse the democratic gains of the past decade. This situation has led to leaders and members of the movement lining up against one another battling for the soul of the ANC.

Almost every week, newspapers carry articles on issues that are pertinent to the inner life of the organisation and not for public consumption. With local government elections scheduled for early next, leaders right across the country are tearing themselves apart for positions as councilors. None of these battles are about accelerating service delivery to communities, instead they are all about what one comrade described as “operation dedela ndingene” (move on, let new people in in).

Marx would have asked, whose class interests are served in tearing apart your own movement and who stands to benefit from a weak and fragmented liberation movement?

Not many of us, including senior leaders of our organisations are posing these questions. The NEC of the ANC met and resolved on how the JZ matter should be handled by the movement and its allies. Even before the ink could dry, utterances in the public pointed in another direction. When we discuss this matter in the movement’s structures, we must ensure that whatever we do builds a united and strong organisation capable of delivering on the socio-economic transformation agenda.

On the forthcoming local government electionsNumsa’s Mini-National Congress held in September resolved to allow union officials to stand as councillors. We took this decision to ensure that our organisation contributes towards service delivery and capacity in local government. Those of us in locals and regions who are included in the list processes must remember our people are putting their hopes and aspirations in them. We dare not fail the masses.

On the home frontWe recently held a successful National Education Indaba to review methods of delivery and the content of our education programme. This was an exciting event which also revealed the depth of working class leadership in the union. The Indaba said the organisation must instil values that make us unique as a militant, revolutionary metalworkers union.The Indaba resolved among other things that trade union education must be accredited. We must now translate these resolutions into a programme that reflects and advances working class interests in our factories, communities and throughout the world.

On the Cosatu frontThe Federation will be hosting a range of activities in November/December to celebrate 20 years since its launch. These activities will honour Cosatu’s resilience throughout the years as a militant and strong Federation. We urge you to take part.Thembi Nabe, now a travel administrator at Head Office has these memories of December 1985: “I remember arriving very early in the morning to attend the inaugural congress at the Univerisity of Natal in Durban. We were very tired after the long trip. There was nowhere for us to sleep so we got out our blankets and put them down on the pavement and slept.”This reminds us of the difficulties that those who came before us went through in the struggle for a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society. Given the difficulties we have mentioned currently around the ANC, we must always act to defend the democratic rights that we fought for to attain our freedom. It is our collective thinking and wisdom that will save our movement from these challenging times.

We have had an extremely busy year as an organisation. We have carried out the activities we planned for 2005. We want to thank staff and leadership for not failing our members. Drive safely and condomise over the festive season. We will meet again in 2006.Aluta Continua!

Silumko Nondwangu, general secretary