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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's ANC President Jacob Zuma gives Swaziland tyrant Mswati III the red-carpet treatment.
For more on Swaziland, click HERE.
By Terry Bell, Cape Town
April 19, 2015 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), campaigning groups and labour-supporting members of the European parliament this month launched protests about the continued harassment and jailing of trade unionists and democracy campaigners in Swaziland. ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow has noted that, in Swaziland, “Violations against the fundamental rights of workers have become systemic.”
But apart from a few verbal sallies from non-governmental groups, there has been silence from South Africa. And this should be deeply worrying to those who are concerned about deepening democracy on the continent and in ensuring that a wealthy, often corrupt — if not entirely melanin deficient — elite do not continue to dominate.
"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.
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.
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.
Mario Masuku, jailed president of the People's United Democratic Movement.
For more on Swaziland, click HERE.
By Patrick Craven
March 17, 2015 -- Congress of South African Trade Unions, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Congress of South African Trade Unions strongly condemns recent violent attacks by Swaziland police on trade union meetings and sends a message of solidarity and support to the Swazi workers struggling for democracy and the right to organise in free and independent trade unions.
On March 14, 2015, King Mswati’s police broke up a meeting of the executive board of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), and injured a union leader who was taking part. According to TUCOSWA leaders and the Swazi Observer, more than 300 plainclothed police forced participants to end the meeting in the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) Centre and blocked the gates to the building. TUCOSWA has reported that Muzi Mhlanga, SNAT secretary general, was assaulted and had to seek medical care.
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.
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.
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.
[Please return regularly for updates.]
January 28, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Venezuela's government has congratulated Alexis Tsipras, leader of the left-wing SYRIZA party, who won a huge victory in Greece's parliamentary elections on January 25, 2015, reports TeleSur English. Tsipras has been inaugurated as the country's prime minister.
A Venezuelan government statement said: “Venezuela warmly congratulates the Syriza coalition party and Alexis Tsipras for their historic victory, wishing them success and complete solidarity and support.”
Venezuela's foreign minister Elias Jaua tweeted: “The Greek people, after a long and historic battle against neoliberalism, has crowned itself a wonderful victory. Syriza is fresh air for Europe!”
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.
This was video recorded by Ken Nash of WBAI Pacific Building Bridges radio show, a production of the Labor Video Project www.laborvideo.org.
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).
Read more about recent developments in South Africa HERE.
* * *
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.
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.
* * *
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.
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).
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.
Speech by Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), to mark the 40th anniversary of the South African Labour Bulletin
November 21, 2014 -- COSATU, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- First let me say congratulations to the South African Labour Bulletin on its remarkable achievement of 40 years of uninterrupted critical publishing. Thank you for the honour of this invitation. For 40 years you have provided a voice to the voiceless; you exposed the brutality of the capitalist system that continue to brutally exploit workers; you have created space for policy debates that shaped the policies not only of trade unions but of the liberation movement as a whole.
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
November 12, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal
To the comrades of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA),
The Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM, Party of the Labouring Masses), a socialist political party in the Philippines, sends its strongest solidarity to the comrades and leaders of NUMSA who are now fighting for the renewal of militant trade unionism and socialism in South Africa.
NUMSA was recently expelled in the Congress of South African Trade Unions federation through the maneouverings of its central executive committee. The central executive committee of COSATU supports the neoliberal program of the African National Congress government, while NUMSA does not. NUMSA has consistently opposed the neoliberal policies of the ANC government and stood for an independent trade union federation.
From the NUMSA press statement itself, we gathered that the real reason for NUMSA’s expulsion has been its consistent rejection of the ANC governmental policies which harm the interests of the workers and the South African masses.
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.