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[See also 'South Africa: 'We will continue to mobilise the working class for socialism', NUMSA's defiant response to COSATU'. For more on COSATU, click HERE. For more on South Africa, click HERE.]
Statement by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa
November 9, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- What we have warned the South African workers and broader public about has come to pass. The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) with its 350,000 members was expelled as an affiliate by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) in the early hours of Saturday morning (after 1 am), November 8, 2014, at a Special Central Executive Committee meeting (SCEC). This expulsion took place through a vote which was 33 for our expulsion and 24 against.
Democratic Left Front (South Africa): 'Defend NUMSA! Struggle for an independent, socialist workers' movement'
Statement by the Democratic Left Front (South Africa)
November 20, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In December 1985, millions of oppressed and exploited in South Africa and indeed across the world celebrated the birth of a giant of the working class, the Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU).
Forged in struggles on factory floors, mine shafts, farms and homes of the rich across the country, the independent trade union movement became a powerful expression of the unity of the working class. COSATU embodied the principles of workers’ democracy and unity, fought for improvements in the lives of ordinary workers and played a leading role in the struggle against apartheid and for socialism.
On the eve of its 30th anniversary, COSATU’s rich legacy of independent workers’ struggles is being torn asunder. The expulsion of National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) by the leadership clique of COSATU threatens the very existence of the federation.
November 13, 2104 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi (pictured above) was absent from the COSATU media briefing on November 11, in the aftermath of the November 8 expulsion of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA). In the letter below, he explains why.
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Letter from COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi to the COSATU affiliates and others, November 11, 2014
To: COSATU president
COSATU affiliated general secretaries
COSATU provincial secretaries
November 11, 2014
RE: THE CRISIS IN THE FEDERATION
NUMSA members dance at a demonstration.
By Dale McKinley, Johannesburg
November 10, 2014 -- South African Civil Society Information Service, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- It is arguably the most important political development of South Africa’s post-1994 era. In the early hours of November 8, South Africa’s largest union, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), was expelled by the majority of the leadership belonging to South Africa’s largest union federation, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).
The political significance of NUMSA’s expulsion derives from three key, inter-related areas of impact.
South Africa: 'We will continue to mobilise the working class for socialism', NUMSA's defiant response to COSATU
By Irvin Jim, National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) general secretary
November 9, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Below are the speaking notes Jim's presentation to the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Central Executive Committee meeting to discuss the union's expulsion from the federation, on November 7, 2014. After meeting through the night, delegates voted 33-24 in favour of expelling NUMSA, South Africa's biggest trade union, the largest union in the federation and a vocal critic of President Jacob Zuma's neoliberal regime.
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I stand here as the General Secretary of the biggest affiliate of this federation, as a founding member at the Congress of 1985. I will be reminding comrades here of our common history.
Statement by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA)
October 27, 2014 -- NUMSA, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- When the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) was born in 1985, the federation brought together many different trade unions with different organisational, political and administrative cultures and traditions.
From 1981, it took four long hard years to emerge from the unity talks with the establishment of the largest federation in South Africa in December 1985.
The COSATU we formed, over its 29 years of existence, has grown and been united, by the following values:
1. COSATU is an independent, fearless and democratic trade union federation: it confronted the Apartheid regime and survived! COSATU is shaped and had existed premised on the following key and core values;
a. COSATU is a revolutionary socialist federation.
b. COSATU is an anti-imperialist federation: it fights against foreign capitalist domination.
Nelson Mandela con el también acusado Ruth First (centro) y el Congreso de los demócratas apoya Rose Schlachte durante el juicio de la traición, que comenzó en 1957.
[English at http://links.org.au/node/4004.]
"Esta es la tarea revolucionaria del momento: la construcción de órganos democráticos de la clase obrera, los sindicatos, el movimiento cívico y un partido revolucionario de vanguardia socialista para derrotar al capitalismo colonial y racista sudafricano" -- Irvin Jim.
21/09/2014 -- Sinpermiso -- Irvin Jim, secretario general del Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores Metalúrgicos de Sudáfrica (NUMSA), leyó el siguiente texto en la 12ª Conferencia Anual en memoria de Ruth First (1), en la Universidad de Witswatersrand de Johannesburgo. Puedo decir simplemente: Señoras y señores, compañeros y amigos reunidos en esta 12 Conferencia Conmemorativa de Ruth.
Por favor, permítanme agradecer a la Universidad de Witwatersrand por su enorme coraje al invitar a un humilde dirigente iletrado de un sindicato negro para pronunciar la 12 ª Conferencia en memoria de Ruth First. Gracias, muchas gracias.
By Terry Bell, Cape Town
September 14, 2014 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The labour movement is coming under increasing pressure as the global economic crisis continues to bite. On the South African front the pressure is growing as the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) labour federation fails to deal with the internal divisions that threaten to tear the federation apart. Or at least further fragment the country’s largest union organisation.
This much has been admitted by COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. He noted in August that “unions are in a state of paralysis”. Addressing the Food and Allied Workers’ Union congress in Johannesburg he said that “workers’ issues are being sidelined even by COSATU itself”. And it is the unions themselves that should sort these matters out.
[English at http://links.org.au/node/4015.]
27. August 2014 -- Einartysken -- Etwa 30 Gäste aus der ganzen Welt und 120 Ordnungskräfte der Nationalen Gewerkschaft der Metallarbeiter Südafrikas (NUMSA) trafen vom 7. - 10. August in Johannisburg zusammen, um die Aussichten und Herausforderungen des Aufbaus einer neuen linken politischen Alternative zur Herrschft des African National Congress (ANC), die Partei des verstorbenen Nationalhelden Nelson Mandela zu diskutieren.
Dieser Aufruf der größten Gewerkschaft des Landes mit über 400 000 Mitgliedern hat Widerhall in der gesamten Arbeiterklasse gefunden und manche in den Medien zur Aussage veranlasst, diesen Prozess als Möglichkeit zu sehen, "die Geburt einer Arbeiterpartei hervorzurufen, die am Ende [die ANC] herausfordern könnte".
NUMSAs Herausforderung des etablierten status quo hat auch die vielen Gefahren beleuchtet, die ihr bevorstehen, was drastisch durch den Mord an drei Ordnungskräften am Vorabend des Symposiums illustriert wurde.
Dass der Aufruf der NUMSA so viel Aufmerksamkeit erhalten hat, kann durch die Realität der südafrikanischen Gesellschaft zwanzig Jahre nach dem Fall der Apartheid erklärt werden.
Striking NUMSA members, July 2014.
August 23, 2014 -- A version of this article was first published at TeleSUR English, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Around 30 guests from across the globe and 120 shop stewards from the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) met August 7-10, 2014, in Johannesburg to discuss the prospects and challenges of building a new, left political alternative to the ruling African National Congress (ANC), the party of deceased national hero Nelson Mandela.
South Africa: 'Return to the Freedom Charter'! -- NUMSA leader Irvin Jim's Ruth First Memorial Lecture
Nelson Mandela with fellow accused Ruth First (centre) and Congress of Democrats supporter Rose Schlachte during the Treason Trial, which began in 1957.
“The revolutionary task of the moment: building democratic organs of the working class, trade unions, the civic movement and a revolutionary socialist vanguard party to defeat South African colonial and racist capitalism.” -- Irvin Jim.
August 14, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Irvin Jim, general secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), presented the 12th annual Ruth First Memorial Lecture at the University of Witswatersrand in Johannesburg, in memory of the revolutionary activist who was assassinated by the apartheid regime in 1982.
* * *
May I simply say: Ladies and gentlemen, comrades and friends gathered at this 12th Ruth First Memorial Lecture.
Please allow me to thank the University of the Witwatersrand for taking a very brave and big risk: inviting a humble, unlettered leader of a black trade union to give the 12th Ruth First Memorial Lecture.
We thank you, very much.
South Africa experiences thousands of strikes, protests and confrontations annually with a police force willing to take extraordinary steps to defend capital’s property rights.
By Patrick Bond, Durban
April 27, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Two decades ago, liberation was won in South Africa. In two weeks, the May 7 election will confirm the popularity of the African National Congress (ANC) with a landslide victory.
Former ministers Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge and Ronnie Kasrils at the media launch of the Vukani! Sidikwe! (Wake Up! We are Fed Up!) Vote No! campaign at Wits University. Photo by Antoine de Ras.
For more on South Africa, click HERE.
April 21, 2014 -- Former leading member of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and former government minister Ronnie Kasrils, together with another former minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, has launched the Vukani! Sidikwe! (Wake up! We are fed up!) Vote No! campaign. It calls on South Africans to "vote no" at the May 7, 2014, general election to the corruption and neoliberal economic policies of the African National Congress (ANC) and the right-wing oppostion, the Democratic Alliance (DA). Kasrils' call has provoked widespread debate on the South African left and condemnation from the SACP and the ANC.
Below, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal publishes an article by Kasrils on the reasons behind the campaign, as well as some commentary from the left.
* * *
By Ronnie Kasrils
April 20, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Leaflet distributed by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) at the 2014 Labor Notes convention, April 4-6, in Chicago.
For more on NUMSA, click HERE.
Striking platinum workers, January 30, 2014.
'We are looking forward to the mass workers party to challenge the neoliberal ANC government and its capitalist allies'
Statement of the Democratic Left Front, South Africa
April 2, 2014 -- On the eve of the May 2014 national elections the Democratic Left Front held its second conference since its formation in 2011 at Stay City in Berea, Johannesburg, from March 27-30, 2014.
One hundred and forty delegates representing a number of important popular movements, independent trade unions, women, youth, socialist and environmental organisations from around the country met and were decisive in embracing the NUMSA break with the Tripartite [[African National Congress, Congress of South African Trade Unions, South African Communist Party] Alliance and the building of a mass united front and a movement for socialism. We believe that this represents the most significant opportunity for placing democratic, left socialist politics at the centre of our country’s political system.
Suddenly politics has become interesting. The dominance of the ANC’s exhausted nationalism and the [opposition] Democratic Alliance’s [the former apartheid parties] regurgitation of big-business interests will be decisively challenged and, we have no doubt, defeated. Tweedledee and Tweedledummer will meet their match.
South Africa: Irvin Jim (NUMSA) on new working-class leadership and prospects for socialist politics
In three parts.
Presentation by Irvin Jim, general secretary of National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa; chaired by John S. Saul.
March 6, 2014 -- Left Streamed, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The dramatic upsurge of popular grass-roots protest in South Africa's townships and rural areas in recent years has marked a “rebellion of the poor” in that country. The working-class itself has also been assertive, prompting the African National Congress administered state's horrific massacre of dissident mineworkers at Marikana in 2012.
Until recently, leading trade unions have confined been within the tripartite governing coalition of the ANC, the South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the country's largest trade union federation.
Tens of thousands of workers across South Africa responded to the call from NUMSA for a general strike on March 19, 2014, against neoliberal government policies.
Break the paralysis of COSATU!
Why the attacks on Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi and NUMSA will fail!
Our call for a special COSATU national congress
[Posted March 20, 2014 at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal]
Statement by the nine COSATU affiliates campaigning for the reinstatement of Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi as general secretary
Almost 29 years ago at the height of mass struggles by workers, youth, women, students and communities, despite repression, detention without trial, a state of emergency, killings and assassinations of activists and leaders, the workers of South Africa declared; “A giant is born”. And so the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), by the blood, sacrifices and sweat of many generations before it, was launched.
How did the giant help to defeat apartheid?
By Terry Bell
March 6, 2014 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Despite media claims to the contrary there is no move by the National Union of Metalworkers (NUMSA) to start a political party. What the union plans to organise is a series of “socialist consultative conferences” in the nine provinces of South Africa— and this is in line with a 21-year-old Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) decision that has apparently never been rescinded.
The jargon used at the NUMSA press conference at which general secretary Irvin Jim referred to the establishment of a united front or movement that may in future contest elections was the probably cause of media confusion. Neither a movement nor the more formal united front is a political party in the traditional sense. Both are groupings of individuals and organisations that share broadly common aims.
Statement by nine COSATU affiliates campaigning for the reinstatement of Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi as general secretary
February 15, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The outcome of the special central executive council (CEC) of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) that was shunned by those affiliates who had formally called for a Special National Congress has confirmed our worst fears.
The current leadership faction that currently controls the boardroom manipulated the quorum, the agenda and the discussion to reach outcomes that have nothing to do with protecting the rights of workers or their organisations. It is clear that this faction is prepared to sacrifice COSATU and turn it into a toothless giant in order to please its political masters. We cannot and will not allow this to happen without a determined struggle and we believe that we have the support of the majority of COSATU workers.
Irvin Jim, NUMSA general secretary.
Presentation by Irvin Jim, National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) at the Cape Town Press Club
February 11, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- I speak to you today with a powerful and united mandate from 341,150 metalworkers. They made their views extremely clear in our workers’ parliament in December 2013 – the parliament we called the NUMSA Special National Congress. In that parliament there was vigorous debate. Every delegate knew that they would have to account to their constituency. We are justifiably proud of our democratic heritage. We know that what we decided has the backing of our members. We don’t have to change decisions after the congress has spoken, as some do, even though there are those who would urge us to “come to our senses” and take NUMSA in another direction from the decisions of that Congress.