National Office Bearers,
All the 9th National Congress delegates,
Leaders of the Alliance formations in attendance,
International representatives of International Metalworkers Federation,
International Representatives of ICEM,
International representatives of World Federation of Trade Unions
Comrades and friends,
Please accept our revolutionary greetings as the National Office Bearers in this 9th National Congress. Twenty five years ago, brave leaders who were visionaries met to give life to a giant metalworkers union in South Africa, NUMSA.
We are humbled to be leading this giant, as it celebrates 25 years of militant struggles for the workers and the working class.
The second transition terminology has been introduced by the leader of the Alliance, the African National Congress, during the public introduction of the draft policy documents of its coming important policy conference.
It is in this context that our 9th National Congress is taking place.
Since 2008, the world has seen deepening levels of poverty, inequality and unemployment because of the crisis of capitalism as a system.
Our country has not been spared. As we meet here, we hold a global record of being the most unequal society in the world.
White monopoly capital has continued to make even more profits under a new dispensation in South Africa.
The economic freedom we talk about so passionately is elusive.
President Jacob Zuma succinctly makes a point in the 8 January 2011 NEC Statement;
“Political emancipation without economic transformation is meaningless.”
This NUMSA 9th National Congress must provide an answer to Lenin’s famous question posed to revolutionaries!
What is to be done?
THE 9TH NATIONAL CONGRESS
Young and old people of our country look up to this congress to provide answers. Young and old people around the globe look up to this Congress to chart a way forward so that the misery imposed by Capitalism on the working class may be dealt with.
We have the next five days to disappoint them or to give them real hope for the attainment of economic freedom, which we believe, can only be achieved under socialism.
All kind of people have used the term economic freedom in the recent past, some have sought to convince our people that it is possible to achieve economic freedom under capitalism. As NUMSA, we say it is impossible.
Any person who has used the term economic freedom as rhetoric in the recent past will be exposed by the report that we are going to do in this Congress.
We are expected by the workers and the working class across the globe to provide real answers to the current challenges, including challenges of globalisation which is the manifestation of new forms of capitalist greed!
As Lenin has correctly argued “IMPERIALISM IS THE HIGHEST STAGE OF CAPITALISM”.
In this context we view globalisation as nothing else but imperialism.
President Mugabe addressing a Zanu PF meeting a few months ago says the following about globalisation; “We are going through a war-like phase of global capitalism.
Today it is oil; tomorrow it shall be our diamonds, platinum, uranium, gold, copper, nickel, iron, manganese, chrome and all. We have all these coveted resources, which is why there will always be attempts to challenge our sovereignty.”
In this Congress, we have prepared thoroughly researched reports that prove that indeed this war –like phase of global capitalism has literally grabbed the sovereignty of many countries.
It used to be countries in the developing world that had their sovereignty stolen but the European crisis has seen Greece and Italy having their elected leaders removed without a popular democratic process that we are always taught to be, democratic elections.
Capitalists as they were, their sin was to attempt to think about the conditions of their people and the impact of the austerity measures to their sovereign countries, they were removed from power to protect the interest of the European banks and the Bretton Woods institutions.
If indeed, some countries in Europe no longer have sovereignty, how much sovereignty remains in the continent of Africa? The different positions we took as African States when military power was abused to kill the leader of Libya speaks volumes about how much remains of our sovereignty.
What is to be done?
THE SECOND TRANSITION
When we completed ten years of democracy, we did an objective analysis as COSATU.
We concluded in agreement with the South African Communist Party that the first ten of years of democracy benefitted capital more than the deserving class, the working class.
We vowed to work hard to ensure that the second decade of democracy belong to the working class.
From 1996, the left axis in the Tripartite Alliance, ably represented by the SACP and COSATU engaged in the Alliance and outside the Alliance to stop the neoliberal agenda in our country.
This neoliberal agenda has indeed made the rich to be even richer and the poor to be poorer in our country hence the title that we have acquired: the most unequal society in the world.
In 2007, working together in the Alliance, we thought we had resolved the rush to implement neoliberal policies.
Our last Congress in 2008 was too short a time to reflect really on what was the achievement in the 2007 Conference of the African National Congress in class terms.
Let me remind the 9th National Congress about what the Communist Manifesto says about classes; “The history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggles.”
The Communist Manifesto says the following;
“The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms.
It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones.
Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinctive feature: it has simplified the class antagonisms: Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes, directly facing each other: Bourgeoisie and Proletariat.”
Dear delegates I think if we had ignored to do the class analysis of our post 1994 breakthrough together with 2007 outcomes in that historic ANC Conference then we must begin in this Congress to reflect on those epochs in our history.
We are indeed a society of two classes that are directly facing each other in South Africa.
The big question is whether these great classes are indeed facing each other in South Africa today or the other class has turned to face the other side, allowing the bourgeois class to trounce it from behind without defending itself at all?
Posing this question in a scientific way must not make us enemies with the other class within our movement, the African National Congress.
As communists in the structures of the movement, we cannot conceal our class interests because doing so will be betraying the class itself.
We must ask from our beloved ANC, now that the first decade benefitted the capitalist class, how are we going to ensure that the second transition belong to the working class without falling into the trap of stageism in the National Democratic Revolution.
Indeed, it is a real possibility that these terminology of second transition can make us believe that the first transition has taken place.
It is important to go back to what the President of the ANC said in the 8 January 2011 NEC statement,
“Political emancipation without economic transformation is meaningless.”
It is therefore instructive to agree upfront that even before we talk the second transition, we must agree that the only achievement of the first transition was political emancipation only.
This must then bring us to the fundamental about the National Democratic Revolution.
NUMSA, taught by the South African Communist Party, believes that the National Democratic Revolution is a direct route to socialism.
We must therefore pose a question about the same NDR since 1994.
It is sometimes a question that is not liked by many comrades, but it is nevertheless very important to ask it, is the NDR still on the route to socialism.
If the answer is no, it is not on its route, what is to be done to put it back on route to socialism.
Back to the second transition terminology
The ANC draft policy documents have caused FW De Klerk to rise from retirement. He is resolute to defend the property clause in the 1996 constitution.
This must make us wonder, what does he mean by saying they did not give in to majority rule in this country, but to the constitution!.
We want the Congress to discuss this revival of FW De Klerk because we think it reveals the extent to which we must not rest until all problematic clauses in the 1996 Constitution are sorted out, in particular, the property clause!
The arrogance of Helen Zille must be discussed scientifically here and now. Her attacks on Cde Vavi and COSATU, in particular the choice of the youth wage subsidy as a campaign, must make us to wake up to the fact that she is clear that her prospects of getting more votes in the next elections lies with young people.
She wants to create a gap between the unemployed youth and the COSATU, which she accepts that, it is a pillar of the ruling party during elections.
Hers is a clear political strategy that we must expose and respond with immediate effect. It is in times like these when one gets angry when leaders of the working class forget to put their prejudices aside and laugh in private when our leaders are attacked.
It has happened to many of our leaders. What Helen Zille was doing to Cde Vavi is the same as what Brett Murray was doing to President Zuma and the people of this country, it is the same as what Mondli Makhanya was doing to Cde Blade Nzimande in a so called opinion piece that he wrote in one Sunday Times a few weeks ago.
This is the time when we must respond to these attacks in a vicious manner as the working class.
Our momentary challenges must be set aside when we are facing these attacks from the capitalist class and its representatives in the media.
We dare not allow Helen Zille, FW De Klerk, Brett Murray and Mondli Makhanya to disturb us from doing a thorough class analysis of the first transition, using the Marxist-Leninist tools, in order to plan a second transition that delivers to the working class.
THE TRIPLE CRISIS OF CAPITALISM
The triple crisis of capitalism is deeper since the re-emergence of the 2008 financial crisis. Our country has become the most unequal society despite all the government interventions since 1994.
As reliable and consistent Alliance members, we want to insist that we need radical changes to the economic trajectory that we have pursued since 1994.
President Zuma need to understand that in order for the ANC to continue to lead the economic transformation, the commitment to the economic freedom in our lifetime need to be enforced differently from what has been happening since 1994.
As the South African State, we must begin with immediate effect to discipline capital. For 18 years, South African capital has been having things their way and things cannot continue as business as usual if we want to make an impact on the triple crisis that is haunting us.
Professor Vivek Chibber from the New York University who has studied developmental states argues that all developmental states that have succeeded to build and grow their economies have done so at the back of incentives and discipline for capital.
The South African State has not started to discipline capital. Even when it is just supposed to ban labour brokers, it becomes a long winded matter but when R5 billion needs to be transferred to the coffers of South African capital, then there is urgency.
This is a problem and our government must stop it.
Our country today is battling with shortages of skills when the Skills Development Act has been pumping millions into Skills Levies for employers to train people.
What did they do? They trained only trainees for their immediate needs, not for the economy.
South African capital is not patriotic. They are currently sitting with billions of rands that they are not investing back into the economy, and yet unemployment is so high.
They prefer to import skills and inputs from other economies than to create capacity here at home.
They export scrap metal for profit at the expense of the manufacturing sector. They charge exorbitant steel prices at the expense the manufacturing sector.
They receive huge incentives in the auto sector and some are destroying jobs in the motor sector even with that huge incentive from government.
These are few examples why I think this 9th national congress must come out with a campaign to call on government to stop treating the business interests located in our borders, both local and global, with kid’s gloves.
We make this call to our ANC government because the working class are the key constituency of the African National Congress who return the ANC into government every 5 years.
It is not business who vote for the ANC, so why must our ANC government treat business with such kindness? Let us learn from other countries who have taken radical decisions.
As we speak, China and India have got strong measures that are aimed at protecting and strengthening their domestic economies.
NUMSA IN 2012
NUMSA has achieved 300 000 members in the midst of the global financial crisis of capitalism. I want to take this opportunity to thank our shopstewards and officials who worked tirelessly to respond to the call that was made in the December 2011 Central Committee.
This is indeed a significant milestone in the history of NUMSA.
We have taken many decisions since 2008, some of which had to be taken at the Central Committee by agreement that this Congress will be given a report.
One that I want to mention is the ratio between the benefits to staff and the operations of our union which was set at 60 percent operations and 40 percent benefits.
The report is being given in the organisational section which will give details of what happened since then.
What I want to raise as a President of NUMSA for discussion in this Congress is whether we should not take Congress resolutions that can allow Central Committees and National Executive Committees space to see how they are complied with, without setting parameters that can tie the hands of those structures to act on those matters in a responsible manner.
I am extremely excited though that the increase in membership and the discussion we are going to have on this matter will allow the organisation to do exciting projects going forward that may see us gaining more members.
In the last Congress, we were all over in the newspapers for all the wrong reasons. I want to thank all of you for keeping internal matters as indeed internal matters.
One of the things that was in the media in 2008 was the possible liquidation of the NUMSA Investment Company by Public Investment Corporation.
I cannot wait for you to receive a report that the Trustees of the Manufacturing Workers Trust, the Boards and Management and Staff of all NUMSA Investment Company subsidiaries have worked extremely hard to turn around what was a bleak situation into a great story which you are going to hear on the last day of this Congress.
The formation of the NUMSA ECONOMIC RESEARCH AND POLICY INSTITUTE is another matter that deserves a mention in the speech of the President of NUMSA.
I am extremely proud of this initiative and I am confident in no time, there is no researcher or scholar from all parts of the globe who would not want to consult their reservoir of knowledge.
The preamble of our constitution command us to always seek to unite metalworkers wherever they are found.
We truly believe that workers of the world have got nothing to loose but their chains as Karl Marx said it many years ago.
We want to congratulate the two global union federations that we have always belonged to for the merger Congress that will take place this month in Denmark, Copenhagen to give birth to a bigger global union federation of workers in the metal, mining, textile, rubber, petrochemical, energy and related industries. We will be there to witness history in the making.
We also want to congratulate the leadership of the trade union movement in Swaziland for the formation of one federation, TUCOSWA. We call on the Mswati regime to stop the illegal deregistration of this federation.
In the term that is ending, we took a decision to affiliate to the World Federation of Trade Unions.
We consciously took this decision between we think the Cold War ended many years ago.
Since it ended the Heads of State in the two superpowers have shared many platforms, exchanged visits and agreed on imperialist decisions like the NATO no fly zone in Libya.
The fact that Russia did not veto the Security Council resolution means they allowed the US to have its way, the same for China’s non utilisation of their veto power.
We cannot continue as workers to operate our global unions along the lines of the Cold War hostilities.
There is one enemy for all those who sell their labour irrespective of their location and affiliation: it is capitalism.
Let me now take this opportunity to thank you, on behalf of the six National Office Bearers for the patience that you shown us as we did our level best to lead this union into what it has become since 2008.
It was not because of our wisdom that we achieved all this, but your ever available support and guidance.
We appreciate all the work that was done by different leaders from the Mafikeng Congress when we were started rebuilding this mighty union.
We found a solid foundation and we build on it.
It is sad that as we are here, Cde Bheki Magagula cannot be here because he had a terrible accident and is bedridden.
Even more sad is that my mentor, Cde Mtutuzeli Tom is not here because he passed on.
We owe a lot of gratitude to Cde Mtutuzeli Tom and Cde Vincent Mabuyakhulu who at some point towards the Mafikeng Congress, they were both worker leaders and acting elected officials of our union.
I also want to thank Cde Phil Bokaba who is attending his last National Congress here in Durban. Cde Phil Bokaba has taught us many things and we will forever be indebted to him for those lessons.
We wish him the best in his retirement from active trade union leadership.
I now do what I stood up to do. I declare the 9th NUMSA Congress formally opened.
I thank you.
04 June 2012.
Numsa President, Cedric Gina
Numsa Press Release