NUMSA President Opening Speech Marxist-Leninist Political School

Mbuyiselo Ngwenda Brigade

“Capitalism & Its Gravediggers: Building a United Front to   Resist Neoliberalism!”

Sunday 26 January – Sunday 2 February 2014

Module 2
NUMSA President Opening Speech: “Remembering Module 1 and where we are now!”
“The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living. And just when they seem engaged in revolutionising themselves and things, in creating something that has never yet existed, precisely in such periods of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirit of the past to their service and borrow from them names, battle cries and costumes in order to present the new scene of world history in this time-honoured disguise and this borrowed language…” (Karl Marx, 1984, Eighteenth Brumaire).”

Numsa Central Committee Members,
Numsa NOBs,
Numsa Head of Education Department,
School Resource Persons and Facilitators,
School participants,
Invited guests, Media.
It is always good and pleasant to spend quality time to learn. It is even more important to learn, if the education one is getting is about the liberation of the working class from the yoke of capitalism.
Numsa regards both classical trade union education and training and political education very seriously. We are a constantly learning, training and skilling Marxist-Leninist trade union organisation.
Any organisation which refuses to prioritise education, training and skilling is an organisation doomed never to grow, and risks dying sooner than its normal life span.
I therefore, take this opportunity to ask all of us to take this Module 2 Numsa Marxist-Leninist Political School, focusing on the strategic theme:  “Capitalism & Its Gravediggers: Building a United Front to Resist Neoliberalism” veryseriously.
This School is very important precisely because we want to use it to inform the work of our March 2014 Numsa Central Committee on how to speedily and effectively fast track the implementation of the historic Numsa 2013 Special Congress Resolutions and Declaration.
While being mindful that a Numsa Political School is not a constitutional structure, and therefore cannot take decisions on behalf of the Union, we must remember, all the time, during this School, that we are going to be focused on Marxist-Leninist theories and revolutionary practices which must assist our entire union to deepen our theoretical understanding and sharpen ourrevolutionary practice during our work to build a revolutionary working class united front and generate real momentum towards a Socialist Republic of South Africa!
Do not just sit and listen all the time. Do not be intimidated by ideas you may be hearing for the first time. Speak to express your views. Listen carefully to understand. Engage others on how best to act to advance the historic and revolutionary resolutions of the Numsa 2013 Special National Congress.

Broad Objectives of the Numsa Marxist-Leninist Political Schools and Mbuyi Ngwenda Brigade

Last year, after much careful thought and planning, Numsa took the decision to launch the Numsa Marxist-Leninist Political Schools and the Mbuyi Ngwenda Brigade. This happened from Friday 13th to Wednesday the 18th of September 2013.
Why did we do this?
At Numsa we must institutionalise Marxist-Leninist political education in order to equip the union to perform its historic mission, as a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist trade union, to effectively contribute to the struggle for the emancipation of the entire world working class from the yoke of capitalism and to win the fight for socialism.
We want to equip the union to meet its day to day challenges both at the place of work and in our communities. Marxist-Leninist ideas are useful and applicable everywhere, including in our collective bargaining work.
At Numsa, we respect the lived experience of the working class. In these schools, we want to exploit the extremely rich experience of workers bring this experience to enrich the learning processes.
Ultimately, of course, we are always mindful, as Lenin so well reminds us, that it is not possible to wage a successful revolution without a revolutionary theory!
Let me provoke the Education Department at this point. Ours are working class revolutionary political schools.
Participants do not necessarily attend these Schools because they have some disinterested academic interests in the theories and subjects the Schools deal with, without any desire to change the world in favour of the working class.
These participants and Numsa have an interest in the revolutionary reconstitution of the world. We want to destroy capitalism which reduces us to slaves and build a socialist world.  This is the education we must get.

Recap of Module 1 and Launch of Schools and Brigade: 13 – 18 September 2013: “The Political Role of Trade Unions in the Struggle for Socialism”

Allow me, Comrades, to remind us that this is a School broken into “Modules”. During the Launch we went through Module 1.
The theme of Module 1 was “The Political Role of Trade Unions in the Struggle for Socialism.”
In Module 1, we dealt with the following:
• South African traditions and practices of political education in trade unions – this part highlighted how education was conducted even under the repressive Apartheid capitalist regime.
• Numsa principles of workers education – here we emphasised our respect for utilising to the fullest the living experienced of workers in the education process.
• Who was Mbuyi? Participants were taught who Mbuyi was, his values and why we have decided to call the Numsa Brigade after him.
• Building Marxism – Marxism is not some hard and cut dogmatic body of knowledge and formulas. This part emphasised the need to  regard Marxism as a growing scientific body of knowledge and political practice which must be constantly enriched by human practice.
• What is Marxism? Here we use Lenin and his Three Sources and Component Parts of Marxism to explain and discuss the origins and rich content of Marxism.
• Marxism-Leninism as the dominant working class ideology and programme in the 20th Century – Comrades will remember that here we focused on how Marxism-Leninism came to be the dominant working class ideology of the 20th Century, and we discussed some of the revolutionary experiences of the working class.
• Marx’s influence in the 20th Century – this part reminded us that Marxism is all round – it is applicable in all spheres of human life including in the sciences, culture, art, environment, gender and so on.
• Working class movements: the trade union – we dealt with the evolution and history of working class organisations including the origins of the trade union movement.
• The South African working class movement up to the birth of Cosatu
• Marxism and the Sociology of trade unions: here we discussed the role of trade unions in the struggle for socialism.
• Numsa and “isms” labelled against it: this part helped us to understand the class basis and origins of some of the terms that are thrown at Numsa, and to equip us to defend ourselves.
• Neo-colonialism – working through Frantz Fanon, we discussed how and why the national liberation movements may fail to consummate the national liberation revolution, and what happens afterwards.
• Unions and politics in Africa – here we explored the many permutations trade unions have used on the continent to relate to the political processes in their countries.
• Origins of the ANC-COSATU-SACP Alliance
• State of the Alliance
• Roadmap to Numsa Special Congress
Participants will not fail to note the relevancy of Module 1 to the economic and political context in which the Module was delivered.
Declaration and Resolutions of the Numsa Special National Congress: The dawn of a new era in working class struggles in South Africa!
This Numsa Marxist-Leninist Political School will engage with the Numsa Special National Congress Resolutions with a view to enhancing Numsa’s capacity to implement the Resolutions.
We expect this School to theoretically enrich us, thereby enabling us to move very confidently, and with speed, to implement all the Resolutions of our Special Congress.
The Resolutions of our Special Congress are a material and concrete expression of the experiences of the working class in South Africa today, and they carry the revolutionary socialist aspirations of the majority of South African workers.
No one can temper with Numsa Congress Resolutions. Only a Numsa Congress can do so. Our responsibility now is to move swiftly to implement the Resolutions.
The role of the political schools is to sharpen our theoretical tools and ideological abilities to implement the Resolutions of Congress.
I trust that our Central Committee this coming March will benefit greatly from the outputs of this Module.

We must learn from the past. This School will tackle a very rich aspect of thehistory of world and South African popular democratic and working class organisations and their political struggles, in the fight for a socialist world.

We will learn and debate our own United Democratic Front, for example, in order to inform our work in the creation of a united front.
Only fools fail to read the past carefully in order to enrich their understanding ofthe present and inform the future.
We must, however, avoid the lazy temptation to romanticise or demonise the past, in a cheap, dull and uninformed effort to reproduce the past, in our revolutionary present.
We are involved in a real time revolution here. We must invent our own future from our past and informed by our actual current struggles. Marx ably says the following, about the past:
“The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living. And just when they seem engaged in revolutionising themselves and things, in creating something that has never yet existed, precisely in such periods of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirit of the past to their service and borrow from them names, battle cries and costumes in order to present the new scene of world history in this time-honoured disguise and this borrowed language…” (Karl Marx, 1984,Eighteenth Brumaire).
While learning from the past, we must refuse to be imprisoned by it.
We must not be afraid to confront the truth about our present reality.
We must not be afraid to walk into our own future.
This is our responsibility as revolutionaries: to bravely create and walk new paths!

Andrew Chirwa
Numsa President
26 January 2014.