Message of solidarity from Numsa to Fawu National Congress

The National Union of Metalworkers of South brings revolutionary greetings to Fawu – the great 75-year old union of Ray Alexander, Elizabeth Mofokeng, Oscar Mpetha, Chris Dlamini, Liz Abrahams, Jay Naidoo, Frances Baard and Neil Aggett. We send our best wishes for a successful Congress.
Numsa must begin by expressing our gratitude to Fawu for its solidarity and support before and after Numsa was thrown out of Cosatu for standing firm on its socialist principles. We were deeply impressed with your heroic, if ultimately unsuccessful, attempts to reverse that decision at the two Cosatu congresses in 2015. Thank you!
You are meeting at an exceptionally difficult time for workers and poor communities. Your members’ plight sums up everything that is wrong with capitalism. You produce abundant food for South Africa and the world, yet thousands of you earn so little that you cannot afford to put enough of that food on to your tables to feed your families.
Millions of food workers, especially those on the farms and those who have not yet been recruited to the union, suffer not only from poverty and hunger but from brutal exploitation, abuse and racism by employers who still imagine that they live in the days of apartheid when workers were dispensable slaves.
Our plight is being made even worse by the extension of casualisation, outsourcing and the use of labour brokers. Unemployment at 36% is at one of the highest levels in the world, and inequality is indeed the highest of any country. The economy remains ever more entrenched in the hands of the same white monopoly capitalists who ruled in the apartheid years, in collusion with international business interests.
While the ANC government has abolished the most public, racist features of colonialism and apartheid, like “Whites Only” signs, it has left its ugliest feature – its economic core -untransformed. It has actually strengthened capital’s dominance, leaving us at the mercy of huge international monopolies, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and credit ratings agencies, and all their super-rich, still predominantly white, South African cohorts.
That is why Numsa resolved that it can no longer support the ANC, and its allies in the SACP and Cosatu, who still pay lip service to the Freedom Charter and the National Democratic Revolution, but in practice have sabotaged that revolution in the interests of white monopoly capitalism.
In addition to this we see the explosion of maladministration, corruption and theft of our wealth not just by a few rogue families but the entire capitalist class and their political allies in the ANC, DA and other political parties.
It is not only Zuma and the Guptas who are stealing the wealth created by our labour, but the entire corrupt capitalist system which they are now propping up. Capital has bred right-wing leaders from within the ANC who are now steeped in neoliberalism and have become representatives of the exploiting class.
The leaders’ betrayal has now been taken to an even worse level with the Finance Minister’s revelation that government is talking to their lap-dogs in Cosatu about bringing in laws to limit workers’ constitutional right to strike, which has increasingly been demanded by the Free Market Foundation, big business and their shop stewards in the DA.
For all these reasons Numsa is now convinced that workers now urgently need a new independent, militant workers’ federation and a revolutionary, socialist workers’ party.
Workers are impatient to replace the now discredited Cosatu. Numerous new breakaway unions have been formed and we are working with them in a Steering Committee for a New Federation. I am sure that this will be a major topic for your Congress to debate.
Numsa’s view is that the New Federation must be worker-controlled, independent of any political party but should not be a-political but free to campaign for any party which shares our commitment to the full implementation of the Freedom Charter and the nationalisation, under democratic workers’ control of the mines, banks and big industrial monopolies.
The case for a new socialist party has been further strengthened by the 3 August Local Government elections, which showed that Numsa’s view of the ANC’s betrayals is shared by thousands of working-class voters. Although still the largest party, the ANC’s vote fell to 54.4% down from 62.9% in 2011. It is becoming a party based in rural areas, though even there the party’s vote dropped just as dramatically.
In South Africa’ industrial heartland the ANC suffered humiliation, failing to win a majority of votes in nearly all the big cities. Working-class voters demonstrated their frustration at the levels of poverty, unemployment, inequality and corruption by voting for the EFF and some, unfortunately, even for their class enemies in the DA, or by refusing to vote at all.
These elections prove that there is an angry cry for revolutionary change, but currently no party capable of achieving this. This creates a window of opportunity for the genuine revolutionary socialist political party, rooted in the working class and committed to Numsa’s Marxist programme, which we agreed to build at our 2013 Special National Congress.
It is more urgent than ever to move faster, and more visibly, to build this new democratically controlled, mass-based workers’ vanguard party, with a programme based on Marxism-Leninism, and committed to the abolition of capitalism, so that workers have an alternative party to represent their interests.
I’m sure you will have a thorough, serious debate on these issues, in the best democratic traditions of the workers’ movement, and I am confident that whatever you decide, Fawu and Numsa will remain revolutionary comrades, as we fight side-by side in the trenches to defeat greedy employers, ruthless capitalists, brutal exploiters, corrupt politicians and ‘leaders’ who have become the political spokespersons of these people.
A luta continua!
United we stand – divided we fall!
Irvin Jim, Numsa General Secretary
073 157 6384