Numsa Central Committee and 2012 National Policy Workshop Press Statement

“Of all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today, the proletariat alone is a genuinely revolutionary class. The other classes decay and finally disappear in the face of Modern Industry; the proletariat is its special and essential product.” (The Communist Manifesto, 1848)

“In our country – more than in any other part of the oppressed world – it is inconceivable for liberation to have meaning without a return of the wealth of the land to the people as a whole.

It is therefore a fundamental feature of our strategy that victory must embrace more than formal political democracy.

To allow the existing economic forces to retain their interests intact is to feed the root of racial supremacy and does not represent even the shadow of liberation.” ANC, Morogoro, 1969. 

A. Background to the Central Committee Meeting and the 2012 National Policy Workshop

1. The Numsa Central Committee sat from the 21st to the 22nd of May 2012; this was followed immediately by the 2012 Numsa National Policy Conference in preparation of the 2012 Numsa National Congress which will take place in Durban from the 3rd to the 8th of June 2012.

2. Numsa noted that the backdrop to both these important Numsa meetings include, and is not limited, to the following:

a. The worsening global economic situation, as the global crisis of the capitalist system worsens.

b. The growing threat of the worsening economic crisis in the Euro Zone to the rest of the global capitalist system.

c. The threat for further marginalisation and impoverishment of Africa and the rest of the poor Third World as the global crisis of capitalism deepens in the United States, Europe and Asia.

d. The rising prospects of opening up further capitalist wars as a means to jack up the global capitalist system. In this regard, we note with alarm the beating of war drums in the United States of America, Israel and Europe against Iran.

e. We are almost certain that the US Finance/Military/Political Complex is secretly urging Israel to go to war against Iran, as a means for itself (the US) to wage a proxy war on Iran, in an effort to restore to profitability its crisis ridden capitalist economy.

f. Globally, the global crisis of capitalism is throwing billions of the world youth into social despair as there are no jobs – the more than 30 years of neoliberal restructuring of the work place, the replacement of human labour for machines, the destruction of industrialisation for purposes of producing real human needs, and the eventual rise and domination of money capital over industrial capital have come home to haunt the global capitalist system: there is a global crisis of unemployment, especially for the youths!

g. South Africa is thus caught up in multi layered social, economic, cultural and political crises – the post 1994 persistence of the social crisis of “Colonialism of A special Type” which continues to generate mass poverty, wide spread and deeply entrenched unemployment and extreme inequalities for black people in general and Africans in particular now worsened by the on-going global crisis of capitalism.

h. Just as everywhere on the globe, here at home we see the rise of neo-racism.

i. New forms of racism (neo-racism) are being punted through the demands by the bosses and their political mouthpieces for lowering the supper exploitative colonial wages of black and African workers, the insistence on maintaining labour brokers, the demand to give free money to the bosses to bribe them to employ young people, the creation of a multi-tiered labour market in which the bosses will have free reign of determining wages and have the power to hire and fire at will, and the enforcement of toll gates on roads to privatise movement of goods and people.

j. Numsa notes the near explosive crisis of unemployment and poverty in general, and youth unemployment in particular, in South Africa today among the black and African youths.

k. Numsa notes the rise of anger among the black and African working class population of the country over the failure in the past 18 years to create a truly egalitarian economy and society in which the wealth of the land would have belonged to all the people as a whole.

l. The recent upsurge in extreme racist attacks on black people in general and Africans in particular.

m. The DA racist, violent and arrogant assault of Cosatu through its attempted march on Cosatu House in defence of the youth subsidy, former Apartheid President De Klerk’s arrogant declaration that not only did he and “his white people” usher in democracy in South Africa, but that in fact Apartheid as a theory was not wrong and they (white people) never gave in to the majority, rather, they won their domination by submitting to the supremacy of the Constitution that protected their property, land and minority cultural rights, the rise in social media racist attacks on black people and Africans – this essentially found also on the mainstream white liberal electronic copies of newspapers too, the insulting painting of President Jacob Zuma – depicting extreme racist views of MK, the respect held for Lenin in the Liberation Movement and generally an insult to all those who continue to vote for the ANC – all point to a new found arrogance of the South African White complex precisely because its dominant economic position continues to be reproduced in post 1994 South Africa.

n. Notwithstanding all these assaults and attacks on the working class in general, and the black and African working class in particular, Numsa is happy to note the growth in strength of its organisation which has since surpassed the 300 000 membership mark this year!

o. Ultimately, Numsa marks 25 years of unbroken revolutionary shop floor and political struggles this year, in defence of working class power!

B. The DA’s offensive against COSATU on the proposed Youth Wage Subsidy

1. Globally, no amount of bribery of the bosses to employ young people through the so called youth wage subsidies will resolve the failure of the global capitalist system to generate sufficient levels of employment to sustain itself.

2. This is the crux of the matter – the global capitalist system is incapable of generating sustainable levels of employment – in the past, when faced with similar revolution threatening poverty and unemployment challenges, the capitalist system has literally killed millions of youths by sending them to war!

3. Today, while war is an option, and the US government is using this option very readily, the global social and political situation has not yet offered the trigger for the Third World War. Will the war on Iran be it? We shall see.

4. Generally, even under the best of capitalist times, youth wage subsidies lead to the following:

a. Deadweight loss – employers will take advantage of the subsidy but employ people who would have been employed anyway.

b. Substitution effect – employers will absorb subsidised young people and get rid of unsubsidised, and mostly older, workers.

c. Displacement effects – firms and industries without subsidised workers will be crowded out and general employment negatively affected.

d. Destructive churning – companies will take a group of subsidised workers and when the subsidy period for these comes to an end, they will simply replace them with new ones.

e. Corruption – the system does lend itself to graft on a mass scale.

5. Our own contested National Planning Commission recognises these challenges of the youth wage subsidy, and has not offered any real remedial measures.

6. In the South African situation, well before 1994, youth unemployment was an explosive challenge which easily provided the ready army for the Liberation Movement.

7. Today, 18 years of neo-liberal defence of the white dominated South African capitalist economy is on the brink of an explosion: millions of youths, largely black and African youths, are wasting their lives daily because they cannot find work.

8. It is stupidity of the highest order, and a total lack of appreciation of the real class, racial, gender and national and historic drivers of unemployment in South Africa today to propose that the very same capitalist bosses who for more than 350 years have failed to lift black people in general and Africans in particular from the poverty and unemployment they have created in the first place, can now do so if they are bribed by a youth wage subsidy.

9. In the medium to long term, Numsa agrees with the 1969 position of the ANC when it said:
“In our country – more than in any other part of the oppressed world – it is inconceivable for liberation to have meaning without a return of the wealth of the land to the people as a whole. It is therefore a fundamental feature of our strategy that victory must embrace more than formal political democracy. To allow the existing economic forces to retain their interests intact is to feed the root of racial supremacy and does not represent even the shadow of liberation.” ANC, Morogoro, 1969.

10. There is no shortage of bribery for the bosses to employ young people in South Africa, post 1994.

11. Skills levies, learnerships and billions of SETA funds have been poured into similar projects by the government post 1994 and there has been no significant dent in unemployment rate in general, and youth unemployment in particular.

12. The youth wage subsidy will simply be another cheap source of unearned profits for the bosses, while the explosive challenge of mass unemployment in general and youth unemployment in particular continues to grow.

13. In the short and immediate term, Numsa agrees with the Young Communist League that the following reforms may reduce, to a limited extent, the crisis of youth unemployment:

a. The skilling or re-skilling of the more than 300 000 unemployed graduates and the placement of these into the public sector. There is a more than 35% vacancy rate in the public sector which, according to our research, will require just above R4bn to fill in immediately. We challenge all government departments to report on how far they are in filling all vacancies since the expired deadline of August 2011 set by President Jacob Zuma.

b. A programme of mass skilling through Further Education and Training Colleges with the focus on welding, plumbing, bricklaying, electricians and all other basic skills that can be absorbed through the R300bn public infrastructure programme which will need more hands.

c. The legislation of the right to work by young people, which will force government to employ or place any young person in a university, FET college, skills programme or in a (community service or development) job after completion of their Grade 12 or guarantee them an income. Such legislation exist in countries such as India, and have gone a long way in alleviating poverty and forcing the state to invest in their human resource. There is no way that this cannot succeed in our country.

d. The expansion of the Extended Public Works Programme and the increase of income for young people who are absorbed in the EPWP. This will mean a review of some of the tenders on menial tasks such as paving, maintenance of public property, the building, ablution, electrification and maintenance of RDP Houses, hospitals, schools and other buildings for public use.

e. The expansion of the National Skills Service which has trained many young people and placed them into employment.
14. The Young Communist League is a committed serious revolutionary youth formation in this country, and the proposals it is making above are informed by their direct experience of the conditions and challenges confronting millions of unemployed youths in South Africa today. We urge the ANC government to listen to them.

15. In our Durban Congress next month, the matter of youth unemployment will receive its due attention, and we are confident that our organisation will emerge with solid recommendations on the best way to tackle both the poverty and the unemployment challenge of millions of unemployed workers.

16. In the meantime, Numsa will remain resolute in its defence of the unity of both the employed and unemployed working class, and of Cosatu as the prime revolutionary Federation of the South African workers, both employed and unemployed.

C. NUMSA’s response to Cabinet’s decision on imposing e-tolling

1. Numsa will continue to fight the tendency to privatise public goods such as roads, through tolling.

2. Numsa is confident that the ANC led Alliance will be able to resolve the matter of e-tolling of Gauteng new high ways through progressive and redistributive taxation, rather than through burdening the working and middle classes with e-tolling.

3. We urge the ANC not to be tempted into sliding into the simplistic mode that says “the horse has already bolted” or the clear anti working class position that says so called rating agencies will downgrade South Africa’s credit ratings: the ANC must listen to its own constituency – the black and African working class and the rural poor who will come of worse with e-tolling.

4. Numsa rejects, in the strongest terms, any efforts at substituting the political constituency of the ANC with rating agencies. This is an attack on our democracy. It is also a denial of our crisis ridden reality: without massive redistribution of wealth and economic and social opportunities, South Africa will for ever be in crisis mode.

D. The racist attack on the person of the ANC and Republican President, Jacob Zuma, by Brett Murray’s painting

1. As a revolutionary socialist working class formation, Numsa will always defend freedom of expression and freedom of artistic creativity.

2. Numsa members fought for these freedoms well before the demise of the Apartheid capitalist regime, and the ushering in of the 1996 South African Constitution.

3. Thus we cannot today be schooled in the science, art and fight for human freedoms by those who not only benefited, but continue to do so to this day, from our inhuman treatment at the hands of white racist monopoly capital for more than 350 years; it is our revolutionary duty to defend all human rights in general and the right to human dignity in particular.

4. Numsa finds Brett Murray’s painting and the subsequent extremely irrational and inhuman defence of the indefensible thoroughly repulsive and extremely unwelcome in the post 1994 South Africa.

5. Coming on the heels of so many racist and capitalist attacks on black people in general and Africans in particular, this painting has simply added to the fuel that is quickly generating a climate of racial civil war in South Africa.

6. In the situation in South Africa today in which 50% of the population which is largely African lives on less than 8% percent of our GDP, and the other 50% lives on 92% – and the bulk of this 50% is a small fraction of white people – we repeat: championing the following:
New forms of racism (neo-racism) ….. being punted through the demands by the bosses and their political mouthpieces for lowering the supper exploitative colonial wages of black and African workers, the insistence on maintaining labour brokers, the demand to give free money to the bosses to bribe them to employ young people, the creation of a multi-tiered labour market in which the bosses will have free reign of determining wages and have the power to hire and fire at will, and the enforcement of toll gates on roads to privatise movement of goods and people…in conditions of extreme mass poverty, unemployment and inequalities is to consciously promote conditions for mass protests and civil war, when you add direct racism as depicted in Brett’s painting of the President.

7. Human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms, non-racialism and non-sexism are among the founding values of the post 1994 democratic dispensation. This is what we suffered and shed blood for, during the struggle for our liberation.

8. We demanded that these values be given pride of place in the opening chapter of the 1996 South African Constitution.

9. We stress: these values were not donated to us by some philanthropic well-meaning liberal whites who easily thrived in Apartheid capitalist South Africa, and still thrive today, on our cheap black and African labour – we spilled our blood for them, and we are ready to do so again, today.

10. Violating the right to our human dignity, threatening or preventing our advancement to achieving social and economic equality and human rights and freedoms such as is depicted in the painting is a violation of the entirety of the foundation of the 1996 Constitution – make no mistake about this!

11. No amount of quasi liberal concealment of the deep seated savage and vulgar racist intentions behind the painting as “freedom of artistic creativity” will do.

12. The painting is a crude and cheap racist attack on us, all those of us who supported Jacob Zuma to become the President of both the ANC and South Africa.

13. We find the painting a tasteless, artless piece of racist rubbish designed to insult and provoke us into violence, thus to generate a state of racial civil war in South Africa.

14. As a human being, Jacob Zuma’s inherent dignity is protected by the 1996 South African Constitution, whatever anyone, or a racial group’s feelings and views about his life may be: his merely being human qualifies him to the fullest extent possible of our constitutional protection against violation of his right to human dignity.

15. This is the essence of the primacy of the right to human dignity which we fought for, and died for, for more than 350 years in this country. And we remain ready to do so again today.

16. At Numsa, we do not regret the defacing of the painting: we think it is an extremely minor offence compared to the injury and damage done by the sick painting on the person and life of Jacob Zuma, his family, and his entire political constituency.

17. We view as a mark of how degenerate the dominant white supremacist capitalist ideology has become that anyone should be forced to consider the defacing of the painting – an insult to Jacob Zuma’s dignity – as more important. It is in fact this we hate and are fighting about the capitalist system: property is superior to human life.

18. In order to give effect and to protect Jacob Zuma’s inherent right to human dignity as enshrined in the Bill of Rights in our Constitution, we remain confident that the court, must apply, or if necessary develop, the common law to the extent that legislation does not give effect to Jacob Zuma’s right to dignity, in this instance (Section 8.3.2a, South African Constitution, 1996). Nothing less than this is demanded from our courts by the 1996 Constitution.

19. We salute the ANC-led Alliance members who marched to Goodman Art Gallery, yesterday in defence of the ANC and its President Jacob Zuma. The mass action to the Goodman Art Gallery showed that majority of South Africans felt offended by the racist painting of Brett Murray targeted at the ANC and President Jacob Zuma.

20. We call on Metalworkers across the length and breadth of our country to heed the call by the ANC-led Alliance leaders to boycott the City Press.

E. NUMSA Central Committee’s stance on the Labour Law reforms

1. Numsa wishes to place on record the persistence of anti-working class behaviour by certain ANC ministers including the Minister responsible for the National Treasury (imposition of e-tolls and youth wage subsidy) and the current Minister of Labour on the labour law reforms before Parliament.

2. It is such kind of behaviour that now threatens to worsen the disagreements in the Alliance.

3. Such Ministers now create conditions for the ANC in government to be defended by the DA as it (the DA) simultaneously attacks Cosatu. The practical political reality created here is that in fact on such matters the DA is in alliance with the ANC.

4. We reject and condemn the proposed amendments to labour laws which will not ban labour brokers and instead entrench provisions for unions to lose the right to strike.

5. We are confident the ANC Policy Conference this year, and the elective ANC Conference in December will assist in resolving such anti working class behaviour by individuals deployed by the ANC in government.

F. NUMSA Central Committee on the 2012 elective National Congresses of NUMSA, SACP, COSATU & ANC

1. The Numsa Central Committee wishes well, and is hopeful that the coming Congresses and Conferences of formations of the Liberation Movement will result in a stronger, militant and revolutionary alliance capable of delivering on the promises of the liberation struggle as best captured in the Freedom Charter.

2. Numsa urges the working class in particular to ensure that indeed we embark on a Second Transition which will be characterised by advancing the struggle for economic freedom in South Africa, as the only true basis for creating a truly non racist, non-sexist, democratic and peaceful South Africa, for all the people of South Africa.

3. The 2012 Numsa Congress will debate these key political events.

G. NUMSA 25th Anniversary National Rallies scheduled for – 03 June 2012

1. Numsa this year is 25 years old. The CC invites all the people of South Africa to join us as we celebrate the life and times of this giant metalworkers union.

2. This coming Sunday June 03, 2012, we will be holding the 25TH Anniversary National Rally, Curries Fountain Stadium, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. The 25TH Anniversary Rally will be addressed by the African National Congress (ANC) President Comrade(s) JACOB ZUMA, COSATU General Secretary ZWELINZZIMA VAVI and SACP.

H. A call for unity among the working class and their formations

1. As we have noted in the opening section of this Statement, the world and South Africa are in a deep capitalist crisis.

2. We urge all our members and the entire world and South African working class to remain vigilant, to struggle tirelessly for Socialist World as the only true defence against the tyranny and brutalities of the capitalist system.

3. Organise, educate, mobilise, and struggle for Socialism. The alternative is to starve and die under capitalism.

NUMSA National Office Bearers

Media Enquiries: Castro Ngobese, NUMSA National Spokesperson 0836275197 / 0116891702


Numsa Press Release