Metalworkers should find time to reflect on the world we live in. We must consider the challenges confronting our struggle for a socialist South Africa and a socialist world.
Global capitalism is our greatest threat. Never before in the history of humankind has one economic, political and social system so dominated the world.
Capitalism is a system in which many people contribute their labour to produce commodities, but only a few derive benefits.
The world capitalist system is forcing all nations to eat the same kinds of food through the global system of franchises.
We all wear similar clothes through the promotion of brands; we listen to the same kind of music; and we watch the same kind of movies, largely dominated by the American film and music industry.
Liberal democracy – a political system suited to the private accumulation of massive wealth – is being thrust upon all nations of the world, even China.
As the Communist Manifesto foretold more than 150 years ago, nothing is immune from the penetration of capitalism and its influences, not even the family.
Everything and everyone seems to be up for sale, as capitalism constantly creates and chases new markets everywhere.
Even doctors, teachers, priests, lawyers and so on are all turned into paid labourers in the capitalist system.
In its greed to accumulate wealth, the capitalist system is dangerously heating the earth; polluting the air, rivers, lakes and seas; destroying natural vegetation and forests; pushing animal species to extinction; and threatening to destroy the world as we know it.
The world is now in a state of crisis brought about by global capitalism.
The global crisis is riding on the back of massive neo-liberal destruction of rural agriculture; privatisation or commercialisation of state economic assets; removal of state subsidies; and the destruction of local production and markets.
As the World Federation of Trade Unions said recently, the world is not in crisis because of “the greed of some bankers or other capitalists, or from the lack of effective regulatory mechanisms”.
Rather, the world is in crisis because of the private appropriation of that which is socially produced. It is not faults within the capitalist system, but the system itself, that is faulty.
Thus periodic crises will emerge, and it is the working class, especially workers in the global south, that are made to bear the brunt of these crises created by the capitalist system that developed nations and their economic henchmen protect.
The division of labour of the world capitalist system have consigned the global south to the role of providers of cheap labour and natural resources.
This leaves our economies and societies vulnerable to the aftershocks of economic crises not of our making.
With the resultant poverty, massive unemployment, underemployment and cuts in government spending the global south becomes increasingly politically unstable as communities scramble for survival.
Numsa calls for the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism! We must reject capitalism with the same vigour with which we dismantled the apartheid system which, like capitalism, sought to dehumanise the working poor.
In South Africa, the global capitalist crisis is increasing job losses and forcing more workers to take up temporary or precarious work.
It is adding to the already explosive triple crisis of massive unemployment, mass poverty and ever-increasing extreme inequalities.
Since 1994, more of our people have access to better housing, water, education and health. But progressive reforms have been limited by an untransformed white-dominated economy.
The basic structure of the South African economy and society remains untransformed.
“Colonialism of a special type” still exists – black and African labour is at the bottom and white monopoly capital controls the bulk of the country’s wealth and monopolises social resources.
The unemployed are largely black, rural, young and female.
Too many black South Africans are forced to live in shacks or townships characterised by a lack of amenities and poor sanitation, a legacy of the apartheid racial geography of the country.
Extremely dangerous and inferior transport for black communities contrasts sharply with the super-modern vehicular and rail transport of the rich, who continue to be predominantly white.
Black children are condemned to inferior education and health facilities.
White middle-class children have access to well-equipped and expertly resourced schools, and health facilities comparable to those in rich countries.
There is a real threat of revolt, especially from unemployed youths, as their awareness of inequality increases.
Already service delivery riots and demonstrations are a common feature of community life.
There is growing restlessness and discontent, without sufficient and necessary political analysis and historic education about the real class, racial and gender origins of the triple crisis of South Africa.
Numsa has consistently fought against the global and South African capitalist system – the main cause of the misery which characterises the lives of the working class.
We have fought retrenchments and forced fake “voluntary severance packages” and have struggled against the apartheid wage system which still continues in this country.
We have held job summits to strategise, to assess our weaknesses and strengths, to examine our successes and to identify opportunities to occupy democratic spaces, seizing every opportunity to advance the interests of metalworkers.
In 2012 Numsa will continue with such efforts. We will continue to demand an industrial strategy that will create sustainable and decent jobs and a ban on labour brokers.
We will continue to challenge the monetary policy based on inflation targeting promoted by the Reserve Bank.
We will engage government on the need for a new revolutionary accumulation regime for South Africa.
We have called for the nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy and the basic wealth of the land, thus championing the implementation of the Freedom Charter.
We believe the revolutionary overthrow of the global capitalist system is necessary. Socialism is the only alternative. We cannot waste our valuable time assisting in crafting new reformist capitalist policies.
We, the global working class, should fight for a new world order, a socialist system.
In Cosatu, Numsa has championed the call for socialism. Going forward, principled revolutionary working class unity must be promoted within Numsa and Cosatu at all times.
Never before has working class internationalism been more important than now. Forging greater African and global working class links around the struggle for a socialist world must be a priority.
To achieve our goal of socialism, we must grow the power, theoretical capacity and revolutionary quality of the South African Communist Party (SACP).
Every metalworker’s active participation is needed in the programmes of the SACP.
The working class must seek the protection and advancement of its class interests by dominating the ANC and its alliance in 2012 and beyond.
In 2012 we will celebrate Numsa’s 25th anniversary and hold our national congress.
To assist our members to formulate congress resolutions we will release discussion documents in the first quarter, in which we will set down our perspectives of the challenges the working class will face in 2012 and beyond.
These discussion documents are intended to stimulate debate in Numsa so that we can adopt positions at our congress that will guide the union and keep us united in our struggle.
Numsa News No 1, April 2012