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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.
[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.
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.
'Do unto apartheid Israel what you did to apartheid South Africa': trade unions protest attack on Gaza
July 18, 2014 -- Over 170 Palestinian political parties, unions and other organisations including the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions issued a call in July 2005 for a global campaign of boycotts and divestment against Israel similar to those imposed against South African Apartheid.
Unite Union will work to
1. Demand the Israeli Government immediately withdraw from the occupied territories and abide by UN resolution 242 which requires Israel to withdraw to 1967 borders.
2. Support the international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel until it meets its obligation to recognise the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law including the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
By Dale McKinley
June 26, 2014 -- Municipal Service Project, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- This paper critically analyses the context and practical experience of labour-community alliances to oppose privatisation and promote public services, as they have evolved in South Africa since 1994.
While 1980s South Africa was rich in such broad and politically independent alliances against the oppressive apartheid system and the ravages of neoliberal capitalism, following the 1994 democratic transition the labour movement largely embraced the neoliberal corporatism promoted by the African National Congress-run state, which increased the social distance between employed workers and poor communities.
Consistent attempts to repress community-led dissent in response to the political and socio-economic failures of the "new" democracy, and the resulting delegitimisation of community struggles related to the nature of public institutions and delivery of public services, undermined further the bases for unity.
For more on South African politics, click HERE.
By Dale McKinley
May 11, 2014 -- South African Civil Society Information Service, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- No sooner had the final results of the just concluded 2014 national elections been announced than President Jacob Zuma gave a predictably self-congratulatory speech lauding the result as “the will of all the people”. The reality however is that the African National Congress’ victory came from a distinct minority of “the people”. The real "winner", as has been the case since the 2004 elections, was the stay-away "vote".
Since South Africa’s first-ever democratic election in 1994, the hard facts are that there has been a directly proportionate relationship between the overall decline in support for the ANC and the rise of the stay-away "vote". A quick look at the relevant percentages/numbers from each election confirms the reality.
1994: Of the 23,063,910 eligible voters, 85.53 per cent (19,726,610) voted while the remaining 14.47 per cent (3,337,300) stayed away. The ANC received support from 53,01 per cent (12,237,655) of the eligible voting population.
People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) general secretary Mlungisi Makhanya in jail for wearing his party's T-shirt.
For more on Swaziland, click HERE.
Statement by the Congress of South African Trade Unions
April 25, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- King Mswati’s jails are littered with well-meaning men and women of conscience, those who have refused to be cowed into submission by royal terror.
The recent arrest of the secretary general of the People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), Mlungisi Makhanya, and seven other members of PUDEMO and Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) is testimony to the reality of a country that has become a big national prison against its own people.
PUDEMO leaders were jailed for defying the Suppression of Terrorism Act and its predecessor, the 1973 decree that criminalises all forms of political activity and imprisons the rights of the people.
The crime of wearing the wrong colours, PUDEMO paraphernalia is a serious one under Swazi law as designed by the tinkhundla system, hence the legalised murder of Sipho Jele a few years back for wearing these banned colours.
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.
January 29, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This press conference has been called to explain why the nine Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) affiliated unions have taken the unprecedented step of coming together in an attempt to rescue and regenerate COSATU.
Our main and overriding purpose is to work openly towards freeing COSATU from its current state of organisational and political paralysis, for it to become once again a vibrant, independent, progressive worker-controlled federation. The working class at this critical time demands nothing less!
What crisis in COSATU?
We hold the view that COSATU is in deep crisis, and denying the scale and extent of the crisis makes matters worse. A review of what COSATU was supposed to implement following its 2012 congress reveals an organisation unable to move forward on any significant area, and especially in relation to economic and social matters. Meanwhile millions of our people continue to face unemployment, poverty and worsening inequality.
By Leonard Gentle
January 28, 2014 -- SACSIS -- The decision of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) to cut ties with the African National Congress (ANC) has received poor analysis. Comment has tended to focus on the possibility of a new political party in 2019 or whether all this means that suspended general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Zwelinzima Vavi will get his job back.
The greater significance of the biggest trade union in the country throwing in its lot with a growing movement in opposition to the neoliberal order, and thus to the left of the ANC, rather than the line up to the right is being missed.
Klassenapartheid: Die Wirtschaftspolitik der Mandela-Ära war geprägt von Zugeständnissen an das »big business«
[English at http://links.org.au/node/3620.]
Von Patrick Bond
Analyse & Kritik -- Die Welt trauert um Nelson Mandela, der am 5. Dezember 2013 im Alter von 95 Jahren starb. Wie hat Mandela Südafrika verändert? Und wie viel politischen Spielraum hatte er dabei überhaupt? Südafrika taumelt heute von Krise zu Krise, weshalb sich viele nach Mandelas Regierungszeit zurücksehnen. Diese habe sich grundsätzlich unterschieden vom jetzigen kumpel-kapitalistischen, durch und durch korrupten, auf einer brutalen Sicherheitspolitik beruhenden Regime – so lautet der Tenor. Doch vielleicht wurde die Saat des heutigen politischen Übels schon früher gesät?
Delegates to NUMSA's special congress greet suspended COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi (centre).
Declaration of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) Special National Congress, held in Boksburg, December 17-20, 2013. This document had been abridged.
This and other congress documents are available in full at http://www.numsa.org.za.
* * *
NUMSA’s Special National Congress convened from December 17 to December 20, 2013. It was attended by 1200 delegates representing 338,000 metalworkers from 50 Locals throughout the provinces of South Africa. NUMSA was proud to announce in the congress that it is the biggest union in the history of the African continent. In the last 17 months, since our 9th Congress in Durban, we have grown from 300,000 members to 338,000 members. We are ahead of schedule in our goal to organise 400,000 workers by the time of our 10th Congress in 2016.
2. The passing of Madiba
'Farewell to an icon', by Zapiro.
For more on Nelson Mandela, click HERE.
By Terry Bell, Cape Town
December 13, 2013 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- As everyone from monarchs to the labouring masses this week sought to share in the Mandela memorial moment, the myth machine went into overdrive, the very machine Mandela had so disparaged when I sat with him in his Johannesburg office in 1992. One sentence he uttered then has resonated with me throughout the years: “I am no messiah.”
The virtual deification of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, would almost certainly have been anathema to the man. Especially since it has been peppered with hypocrisy in the laudatory comments by the likes of President Robert Mugabe, and the statements by, and selection of, some of the VIP delegations to his memorial and funeral.
For more on Nelson Mandela, click HERE.
By Ashwin Desai, Johannesburg
December 10, 2013 -- The Unrepentant Marxist -- Nelson Mandela’s best-selling autobiography, published in 1994, is entitled Long Walk to Freedom. It tells the powerful story of the journey of a rural Transkei boy who was a cow-herd and son of a deposed tribal chief, to guerilla fighter to decades-long prisoner on an Island fortress and then to the first black and democratic president of his nation, South Africa.
This story came at a time when the world was witnessing the collapse of the Soviet Union, the toppling of statues of many socialist icons and the quagmire of many post-colonial states in Africa. Mandela’s story was rightfully seen as one example of vindication for resistance, righteousness, principle and steadfastness. With the African National Congress (ANC) victory seen as a rare move forward during the 1990s, it reminded us all that to sacrifice for justice will finally find redemption.
By Patrick Bond