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South Africa: Resistance from below -- reclaiming the past, inventing the future?

For more on South Africa, click HERE. More by Dale McKinley. For more on NUMSA.


By Dale McKinley

August 2015 -- At Issue e-zine, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Among the most studied and celebrated aspects of the anti-apartheid struggle during the 1980s in South Africa was the breadth and impact of community resistance. (Ballard et al 2006; Buhlungu 2010)

South Africa: SRCs of five more universities join academic boycott of Israel

South Africans campaign against apartheid Israel.

Click HERE for more on BDS

May 4, 2015 -- BDS South Africa, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- We gather here today as the Student Representative Council (SRC) presidents of five of South African universities, namely: University of South Africa, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Durban University of Technology, Mangasutho University of Technology and the University of the Western Cape. This day will go down in history as we announce the resolutions adopted by our University Student Representative Councils to join the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.

Today we follow the mandate provided in 2011 by the South African Union of Students (which represents all SRCs in the country) which urged "all SRCs, student groups and other youth structures to strategise and implement a boycott of Israel”. SAUS declared in August 2011 that “all South African campuses must be Apartheid-Israel free zones”.

'Don't moan, mobilise! Don't mourn, organise!' -- Zwelinzima Vavi's May Day message

May Day 2015 speech by Zwelinzima Vavi, Durban

May 1, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Today we march in concert with millions of workers all over the world to celebrate International Workers’ Day. We stand with workers in Greece, in Syria, in Bangladesh, in Argentina, in Zambia, in Canada and in every other country of the world to pronounce our determination to step up the struggle against exploitation and oppression. For while the global elite get richer and richer, the working class continues to be condemned to poverty.

In standing together against exploitation we also gather to celebrate our past victories. This includes the victory of the working class in South Africa in winning May 1 as a paid public holiday in 1994. This was not given to us on a plate. It was a struggle started in 1904, intensified in the 1980s, and finally won immediately after our first democratic election.

South Africa: Slow-motion disintegration of COSATU likely to continue

COSATU's highly respected national spokesperson, Patrick Craven, announced his resignation, after Vavi's expulsion noting: 'I could not defend the indefensible.' Several other senior COSATU figures are also discussing whether to take a similar step."

By Terry Bell, Cape Town

April 6, 2015 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The fact that COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has refused to accept his dismissal from the federation should have come as no surprise to readers of this blog. This column has pointed out for months now that the central executive committee (CEC) of COSATU has no constitutional authority to finally dismiss, suspend or expel any office bearer or affiliate; that only a national congress may do that.

South Africa: United Front condemns COSATU's expulsion of Zwelinzima Vavi

COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has been expelled from the federation by its pro-ANC leadership.

Read more about recent developments in South Africa HERE.

March 31, 2015 -- United Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- As expected, yesterday the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) decided to expel Zwelinzima Vavi from his position as its general secretary. The United Front (UF) regards this decision as the final nail in the regrettable terminal decline of what was once a mighty, principled, independent and militant federation of workers’ trade unions.

South Africa: NUMSA and the troubled ANC-led Alliance

[For more on NUMSA, click HERE. For more on South Africa, click HERE.]

March 20, 2015 --The Bullet, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The expulsion of the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) in November 2014 was a watershed moment in the post-apartheid labour movement. The expulsion was a product of, and has deepened further, the crisis in the Alliance between the African National Congress (ANC), Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP), as well as the internal crises of each of the three component parts of the Alliance.

South Africa: NUMSA's message to Australian workers

[For more on NUMSA, click HERE. For more on South Africa, click HERE.]

NUMSA national treasurer Mphumzi Maqungo's address to the Australian Workers Union, Australia

March 3, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- I greet you in the name of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA). I am here to give you an update since our general secretary, Irvin Jim, addressed your 2013 conference. I am happy to report that, despite the shrinking of South Africa's manufacturing sector, NUMSA has continued to grow.

In 2013 we reported to you a membership of 300,000. Today it stands at 360,000. We are the biggest union in the history of the African continent. Despite massive deindustrialisation in our country, during which hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs have been destroyed, NUMSA's membership has grown by nearly 65% over the last six years. NUMSA is truly a dominant force.

The key development since Comrade Jim's address to you in 2013 was our Special National Congress at the end of 2013.

South Africa: 'We are not prepared to remain paralysed', eight militant COSATU unions declare

For more on South Africa, click HERE.

Group of eight COSATU unions statement

March 1, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- South Africa continues to be ravaged by the crisis of poverty, unemployment and inequality and the black and African working class are its worst victims. Black working class women and youth are in a state of hopelessness, desperation and despondency. Increasing numbers of school leavers are swelling the accumulating pool of the unemployed.

We are fighting for a militant, independent trade union movement

The congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is in a state of paralysis and that has given our government an opportunity to pursue its neoliberal policy direction, as articulated in the National Development Plan. This was not going to be easier for the state if the federation remained the militant defender of the working class that it has been throughout its history.

The leaderships of the eight unions have consistently refused attempts to turn COSATU into a passive and non-campaigning federation. We have rejected all attempts to get COSATU becoming a conveyor belt and an apologist of neoliberal policies.

Interview: South African metalworkers' leader Irvin Jim at the centre of a storm

[For more on NUMSA, click HERE. For more on South Africa, click HERE.]

January 28-30, 2015 -- Real News Network, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In this three-part interview, Irvin Jim, leader of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) -- the largest trade union in South Africa with 340,000 members that is calling for a return to the principles of the Freedom Charter -- describes his early life and radicalisation and explains why his union withdrew its support for the governing African National Congress (ANC).

Workers must build a united front to implement the Freedom Charter, which includes participating in electoral politics, and fight for socialism. The workers movement can't just be about marching, he says.

The full rough transcript continues below the videos.

South Africa: NUMSA's Irvin Jim builds solidarity in USA for a socialist South Africa

[For more on NUMSA, click HERE. For more on South Africa, click HERE.]

January 11, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Irvin Jim, general secretary of the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA), South Africa's largest trade union, has toured the United States to report on the fight for socialism in South Africa. He delivered this presentation on January 11, 2015, at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1199 offices in New York City.

Irvin Jim's message to Americans can be read in full HERE. For more information on NUMSA, go to http://www.numsa.org.za.

This was video recorded by Ken Nash of WBAI Pacific Building Bridges radio show, a production of the Labor Video Project www.laborvideo.org.

South Africa: Zwelinzima Vavi's open letter to the SACP

December 17, 2014 -- COSATU, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A response to comrade Jeremy Cronin and an open letter to leaders and members of the South African Communist Party (SACP), by Zwelinzima Vavi (pictured), general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).

* * *

Dear comrades

After reading Comrade Jeremy Cronin's public response to my address on 21 November 2014 at the ceremony to mark the 40 years of the South African Labour Bulletin on the topic "Is the labour movement at the turning point?", I was convinced that a public debate was necessary, not just with comrade Jeremy but with the entire leadership and membership of the SACP. I am doing this not just as a General Secretary of COSATU but also as a member of the SACP.

South Africa: Was 2014 the year of 'radical transformation'?

By Dale McKinley, Johannesburg

December 10, 2014 -- SACSIS.org.za, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Breaking news! In case you missed it, 2014 was the first full year of South Africa’s "radical second phase" of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR).

Apparently, we are now well into a nation-wide process of "radical transformation" that is definitively putting the country on a "new growth and development path".

For a moment at least, forget about the return of rolling blackouts, the record-breaking wealth and conspicuous consumption of the rich, the ongoing crisis of local government service delivery, the palpable intensification of racial discord, the invasions of parliament by armed riot police, the split within the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the continuing epidemic of corruption and fraud within both the public and private sectors, the increasingly out-of-control conduct of our police force and many of the other defining features and events of 2014.

South Africa: Radical NUMSA-backed United Front declares 'Enough is enough'!

The long-awaited process of building a new united front of radical forces in South Africa proposed and supported by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has kicked off with a meeting on December 13-14, 2014. Below is the declaration issued by the meeting. Read more about recent developments in South Africa HERE.

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Declaration of the Preparatory Assembly of the United Front, Johannesburg

December 14, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Globally we are experiencing the gravest economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1920s and 1930s. Wars and counter-revolutions stretch from the Middle East to the far-east to Africa and the Americas. Imperialism knows no constraint. The devastating ecological and climate crises are caused by a predatory capitalist system that is endangering the very existence of humanity.

South Africa: NUMSA rejects dirty tricks campaign, bogus document

[For more on NUMSA, click HERE. For more on South Africa, click HERE.]

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) responds to the "Exposed: Secret Regime Change Plot to Distabilize South Africa" document

December 3, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Over the last 10-days, a document that alleges that NUMSA leaders are involved in an underground plot to destabilise South Africa has been doing its rounds. The document which is entitled "Exposed: Secret Regime Change Plot to Distabilize [sic] South Africa" names two elected national officer bearers of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), Irvin Jim and Karl Cloete as the kingpins of the plot (see here in PDF).

Sudáfrica: Los metalúrgicos son expulsados de COSATU por defender el socialismo

[English at http://links.org.au/node/4141 and http://links.org.au/node/4142.]

Por Unión Nacional de Trabajadores Metalúrgicos de Sudáfrica (NUMSA) y también Dale McKinley

23/11/2014 -- Sin Permiso -- Ha pasado lo que habíamos advertido a los trabajadores sudafricanos y al público en general. El Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores Metalúrgicos de Sudáfrica (NUMSA), con sus 350.000 miembros fue expulsado del Congreso de Sindicatos de Sudáfrica (COSATU) en las primeras horas de la mañana del sábado (después de la una de la mañana), 08 de noviembre 2014 , en una reunión del Comité Central Ejecutivo Extraordinario (SCEC). Esta expulsión tuvo lugar tras una votación 33 a 24.

Democratic Left Front (South Africa): 'Defend NUMSA! Struggle for an independent, socialist workers' movement'

For more on NUMSA, click HERE. More from the Democratic Left Front.

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.

South Africa: 'I can’t defend the expulsion of NUMSA' -- COSATU general secretary

For more on NUMSA, click HERE. For more on South Africa, click HERE.

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.

* * *

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

Dear Comrades

RE: THE CRISIS IN THE FEDERATION

South Africa: The political significance of NUMSA's expulsion from COSATU

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: NUMSA's expulsion from COSATU is 'an attack on the poor and an attack on workers'

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.

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.]

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.

* * *

Comrades,

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.

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