There was a lot of talk, in the build-up to our Special National Congress, about how divided NUMSA is. Much was made of the resignation of our former president, Cedric Gina. Stories were spread of a union dominated by a single individual. There were even stories, which became the subject of much humour in the congress, of NUMSA’s leadership comprising business people who were simply firing up the militancy of the union for personal gain. In the last five days NUMSA has shown those stories to contain not one atom of truth. The most notable feature of the congress has been its unity. Even independent analysts and media commentators have confirmed the remarkable unity of the membership and the leadership in the congress. The delegates have been solidly united in their approach to the current crisis of the working class. There has been vigorous debate on detail, but absolute agreement on the key decisions that the congress faced. NUMSA emerges from the congress in the same condition as we went in – united in our militant determination to use our strength to win fundamental change in the policies and strategies of government as the only way to solve the triple crisis of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
4. Origins of the congress and its democratic process
In the view of the NUMSA National Office Bearers and the Central Committee, the situation in the Alliance [which comprises the African National Congress, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party] and in COSATU had reached a point which required the leadership to consult our members. The decisions of our 9th Congress were no longer enough to guide us. The situation had changed to a point where we needed a new mandate from the membership. The NUMSA Central Committee therefore called this Special National Congress and NUMSA’s democratic process swung into gear. Discussions were held in all 50 locals and all 9 regions. The debate was consolidated at national level and sent back for further discussion. By the time we arrived at this Special National Congress on Monday evening, the delegates were all well aware of the issues on which there was agreement and the issues on which there was a need for more debate. The congress was founded on a solid base of discussion and debate throughout the structures of the union.
5. The crisis of deindustrialisation and unemployment
Both the NUMSA president and the general secretary set out very clearly and at length the context for the deliberations of the congress. The global crisis of capitalism continues and offers a bleak future for any emerging economy that fails to build its own manufacturing industry. South Africa is not only failing to increase industrialisation. The ANC government, including its component from the leadership of the SACP, has presided over a dramatic decrease in the levels of industrialisation in the country.
This is not an accident; it does not come from incompetence or inefficiency on the part of the ANC and SACP leadership. It comes from the fact that the leadership of the ANC and SACP is protecting the interests of white monopoly capital and imperialism against the interests of the working class. The ANC and SACP leadership defends the ownership and control of the mines, banks and monopoly industries in the hands of white monopoly capital and imperialism. The manipulation of the resolution by the ANC branches on nationalisation by the leadership, the deputy president of the ANC (and others), exploit the black working class in alliance with white monopoly capitalism and imperialism.
That is why South Africa has been steadily deindustrialising. It is not in the interests of mining and finance capital to invest in manufacturing industry, especially that part which does not affect the MEFC. That is why South Africa has such high levels of unemployment. It is in manufacturing industry that large numbers of jobs can be created. That is why our comrades died as they did at Marikana and de Doorns. It was not incompetence on the part of the police. It was the conscious, deliberate support, by the armed forces of the state, for the interests of shareholders and against the interests of workers.
6. Four key developments since NUMSA’s 9th Congress
Many things have happened since NUMSA’s 9th congress. We will highlight four of them in this declaration: The ANC has adopted a strategic programme – the National Development Plan (NDP). The fault of the NDP is not that it is technically flawed or in need of adjustment and editing.
On the contrary, it is a very competent and detailed document. Its fault is that it is the programme of our class enemy. It is a programme to continue to feed profit at the expense of the working class and the poor. It is a strategic plan that will benefit white monopoly capital, imperialism and the comprador black capitalist class, not us. In the order of priorities of the ANC, the NDP has replaced the Freedom Charter. A militant, popular programme which challenged property relations in South Africa has been replaced by a neoliberal programme which entrenches existing property relations and attacks the working class and the poor in the interests of mining and finance capital.
The ANC leadership has clarified that it will not tolerate any challenge. The ANC leadership has demonstrated without doubt, at Mangaung, that they will not allow anybody else to challenge their direction. The National General Council of 2010, and Policy Conference which preceded the Mangaung Conference, had a clear majority in favour of nationalisation. That majority was transformed by the ANC leadership into majority support for a fundamentally opposed position in which the National Development Plan focuses on reducing the role of the state rather than increasing it. COSATU has experienced a sustained, vicious attack on its militancy and independence COSATU has become consumed by internal battles between forces which continue to support the ANC and SACP, with its neo-liberal agenda and those which are fighting for an independent, militant federation which stands for the interests of the working class before any other.
In the process NUMSA has been continuously vilified and smeared by those opposed to its militant approach, in Cosatu itself, in the ANC and in the SACP. The state attacked and killed workers on behalf of capital Both at Marikana and in the farmworkers strike in the Western Cape, the armed forces of the state intervened in support of the owners of capital against striking workers. In both instances the result was the murder of workers whose only crime was to refuse to sell their labour for less than a living wage.
In summary, the ANC has been captured by representatives of an enemy class. It has adopted the strategic plan of that class. Its leadership has shown that it will not let the small issue of democracy get in the way of defending its control. As well as the continued poverty of the majority of the working class, the result of this has been the slaughter of workers. It is clear from this picture that the working class cannot any longer see the ANC or the SACP as its class allies in any meaningful sense.
7. The tasks of the congress
The congress had to discuss how to respond to this situation. NUMSA has a proud record of support for the ANC and SACP over the last 20 years that it has been in government and for long before that during the struggle. For more than 20 years we have been urging our members to swell the ranks of the ANC and SACP. We have been convinced that it is in our power to move the ANC and SACP in a direction that supports the working class and the poor. The evidence, leading up to this special congress, was that our existing strategy was becoming outdated. Swelling the ranks has merely resulted in delivering more working class victims, like lambs to the slaughter by the ANC’s bourgeois leadership.
The Marikana [massacre] is a turning point. Since the first post-apartheid massacre took place in Marikana, it has been the view of NUMSA that what happened on that day, similar to the 1922 Rand Revolt and the 1960 Sharpeville massacre, marked a turning point in the social and political life of South Africa. What happened in Marikana is one of the reasons why we convened this Special National Congress. As a union we said that after the mowing down of 34 miners in Marikana, it can’t be “business as usual” in South Africa. How do we explain the killing of striking workers in a democracy?
As a union we have conducted a sustained and thorough analysis of the political meaning of Marikana. What we wanted to do at this congress was to look closer home and ask what Marikana means for trade unions and the entire labour movement. We wanted to do this introspection because as NUMSA we sincerely believe that as a union we are not immune from the mass desertion by members of a traditional union to a new union. Marikana was a deliberate defence of mining profits and mining capitalists!
Delegates at this congress were shown a new documentary that gives an alternative narrative to what we have been fed; that the police in Marikana were acting in self-defence. What we saw was that Marikana was a well-planned and orchestrated strategy by the state to defend the profits of mining bosses. With all this evidence, delegates at this Special National Congress resolved as follows:
To call for a full and impartial investigation of the causes of what happened in Marikana as the 11th National Congress of Cosatu had called in September 2012. This investigation, unlike the Farlam Commission, would look not only at who pulled the trigger or who gave instruction to murder the workers in Marikana but would also investigate the root causes of the massacre such as the persistent migrant labour system and super exploitation of labour by capital in South Africa.
To call upon the South African government to make available all the necessary resources and requirements to the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the massacre, and more especially, accede to the demand for necessary assistance to the families of the miners and the injured miners and their lawyers.
To call for the dismissal of the Commissioner of Police, General Riah Phiyega.
To demand that all the politicians and individuals who are in complicity with the police and state in the murder of the Marikana miners be brought to book.
To demand that the mining bosses accept full responsibility for the deaths of all the workers on the mines, and that where appropriate, necessary prosecutions must follow.
To demand the immediate absolute dropping and withdrawal of police charges against all the arrested Marikana miners.
To call on our trustees to investigate how workers, through withdrawal of pension fund monies, can punish those involved in the massacre.
The Special National Congress had a word for the media. It noted the poor media coverage of the massacre, which in the main serves the interests of private capital. You as media, like us, need some introspection. International Day of Action The Special National Congress committed, on behalf of the entire membership of NUMSA, that if the above demands are not met, we commit ourselves with our allies to an International Day of Action in support of our demands.
NUMSA and delegates and staff raised R350,000 for Marikana families. Through personal pledges by worker delegates at this congress and the entire staff of NUMSA, we collected an amount of R80,000 from worker delegates, R70,000 from NUMSA staff and R200,000 from the NUMSA Investment Company (R350,000 in total) which will be donated to victims and the children of victims of the massacre. The National Office Bearers (NOBs) have been asked to investigate what is the best trust in this regard.
9. On the Alliance analysis
The congress noted the history and current situation of the Alliance and its partners: the Alliance is dysfunctional and captured by right-wing forces The Alliance is dysfunctional, in crisis, paralysed and dominated by infighting and factionalism. It has been captured by rightwing forces.
As a result: the Freedom Charter, which we understood as the minimum platform of the Alliance, has been completely abandoned in favour of rightwing and neoliberal policies such as the National Development Plan (NDP). Those who are perceived to be against neoliberalism or to be advocates of policies in favour of the working class and the poor are seen as problematic, isolated or purged. There exists little common understanding within the Alliance of the real objectives of the National Democratic Revolution.
The Alliance does not lead struggle
Although there are protests everywhere and every day in the country, the Alliance is not an instrument in the hands of these struggling masses, nor does it provide leadership to these struggles, which are largely leaderless struggles. The reality is that there is a political vacuum and the working class is on its own.
The Alliance is just for elections
The Alliance operates only during election periods. It is used to rubber stamp neoliberal policies of the ANC and not as a centre of power that debates policy issues and implementation. It is our experience that the working class is being used by the leader of the Alliance – the African National Congress – as voting fodder.
The ANC is the only strategic centre
The ANC has resisted the reconfiguration of the Alliance into a strategic political centre where issues of policy, deployments into government and programmes are jointly decided upon by all Alliance components. Our strategy of swelling the ranks has not worked and all resolutions of COSATU congresses in relation to how the Alliance should function have not been implemented by the leaders of the Alliance. In practice the Alliance is still in the hands of one alliance partner, the ANC. The ANC is the centre and implements government programmes and policies alone, with little or no consultation with other components of the Alliance. It has made it very clear that it has no intention of allowing this situation to change.
As evidence of this, the recent alliance summit still failed to make fundamental changes to the NDP and had no significant impact in changing policies in favour of the working class and the poor. This is a common development in post-colonial countries.
The treatment of labour as a junior partner within the Alliance is not uniquely a South African phenomenon. In many post-colonial and post-revolutionary situations, liberation and revolutionary movements have turned on labour movements that fought alongside them, suppressed them, marginalised them, split them, robbed them of their independence or denied them any meaningful role in politics and policy-making.
There is no chance of winning back the Alliance or the SACP
There is no chance of winning back the Alliance to what it was originally formed for, which was to drive a revolutionary programme for fundamental transformation of the country, with the Freedom Charter as the minimum platform to transform the South African economy.
The South African Communist Party (SACP) leadership has become embedded in the state and is failing to act as the vanguard of the working class. The chance of winning it back onto the path of working-class struggle for working-class power is very remote.
The working class needs a political organisation
For the struggle for socialism, the working class needs a political organisation committed in theory and practice to socialism.
The congress therefore resolved the following:
Call on Cosatu to break from the Alliance
NUMSA calls on COSATU to break from the Alliance. The time for looking for an alternative has arrived.
Establish a new United Front
NUMSA will lead in the establishment of a new United Front that will coordinate struggles in the workplace and in communities, in a way similar to the United Democratic Front of the 1980s. The task of this front will be to fight for the implementation of the Freedom Charter and to be an organisational weapon against neoliberal policies such as the NDP. For this to happen our members and shop stewards must be active on all fronts and in all struggles against neoliberal policies, whether these policies are being implemented in the workplace or in communities.
Explore establishment of a Movement for Socialism
Side by side with the establishment of the new United Front, NUMSA will explore the establishment of a Movement for Socialism as the working-class needs a political organisation committed in its policies and actions to the establishment of a socialist South Africa. NUMSA will conduct a thoroughgoing discussion on previous attempts to build socialism as well as current experiments to build socialism. We will commission an international study on the historical formation of working-class parties, including exploring different type of parties – from mass workers' parties to vanguard parties. We will look at countries such as Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, Greece. We will examine their programmes with the aim of identifying elements of what may constitute a revolutionary programme for the working class .This entire process will lead to the union convening a Conference on Socialism.
Set a deadline for this process
This work to explore the formation of a Movement for Socialism must be regularly reported to constitutional structures and the work must be finalised by the first NUMSA Central Committee in 2015. Look for electoral opportunities In addition, in all the work being done, whether on building a new united front or exploring the formation of a Movement for Socialism, we must be alert to gains that may present possibilities of either the new united front, or any other progressive coalition or party committed to socialism, standing for elections in future. The NUMSA constitutional structures must continuously assess these developments and possibilities.
10. Special resolution on possible inappropriate use of taxpayers’ money to upgrade the President [Jacob Zuma]’s home in Inkandla
There are allegations that taxpayers’ money has been inappropriately used to build a home costing more than R200 million for the President of the Republic of South Africa [Jacob Zuma]. This alleged use of the taxpayers’ money takes place in the sea of poverty in our country. When asked in parliament in 2012, the president told the whole nation that development of his house was from his family’s own pockets. Since the allegations on use of taxpayers’ money for renovations of the president’s home, there have been concerted attempts to squash the truth about the expenditure including the classification of the Inter-Ministerial Report on Inkandla, the use of the notorious and apartheid-style legislation such as the National Key Points Act of 1980 as well as the attempt by the security cluster ministers to interdict the Public Protector.
NUMSA’s National Executive Committee has called on all facts on Inkandla to be put on the table and in public. This is not an isolated instance. President Zuma’s administration has been marked by one scandal after the other if one considers the landing of the Gupta Group from India at a National Key Point which posed security risks for the country and the presence of the president’s family in business deals.
President Zuma’s administration continues to be characterised by lack of transparency and attempts to hide the workings of the state from the Public. An example of this lack of transparency is the passing of the so-called Protection of Information Bill or Secrecy Bill.
President Zuma’s reign has seen the continuation of neoliberalism through policies such as the National Development Plan (NDP), the Employment Tax Incentive Bill, Youth Wage Subsidy, Labour brokers and E-tolls [road tolls].
It was correct that the NUMSA president in his opening remarks raised the question of whether it is appropriate to agitate for the recall of the State President if the final report of the Public Protector proves that taxpayers’ money was used inappropriately. As a country, we have a recent experience where the former State President was recalled for pursuing neoliberal policies. The Zuma administration not only pursues neoliberalism but it is characterised by scandals, nepotism and patronage.
The Public Protector’s report has the potential to destroy the image of the State President and send a negative image about this country.
The Congress condemns attempts to hide the truth
The congress condemns all the attempts that have tried to block the truth on Inkandla, such as the classification of the report by minister of public works Thulas Nxesi, as well as the interdict of the Public Protector by the security cluster ministers.
President Zuma must resign
The congress called on President Jacob Zuma to resign with immediate effect because of his administration’s pursuit of neoliberal policies such as the NDP, e-tolls, labour brokers, youth wage subsidy, and the track record of his administration which is steeped in corruption, patronage and nepotism.
11. The situation in COSATU
The federation is currently in a complete state of paralysis and about to implode if no serious measures are undertaken to save it, unify it, rebuild it and reclaim it from forces who want to destroy or liquidate it. COSATU is no longer a campaigning federation. There has been a failure to implement congress resolutions such as the resolutions for a campaign against the banning of labour brokers, against e-tolling and the proposed youth wage subsidy. Since September 2012, there has been a failure to carry out the revolutionary programme adopted in COSATU’s 11th National Congress.
There are two voices, crystallised into two camps, coming from within and amongst COSATU’s top leadership: a camp that wants COSATU to continue to fight for socialism and against neoliberalism, and another camp that wants a COSATU that acts as the “labour desk” of the ANC, thereby consciously or unconsciously advancing the neoliberal project underway in South Africa.
The divisions in COSATU are about the soul and the character of the federation. At the centre of these problems are concerted efforts to turn the federation into a conveyor belt that feeds ANC-led government policies into the working class and thus turn COSATU from a revolutionary, militant and independent union movement into a “yellow federation”.
Certain leaders of the Alliance are deeply involved and are in fact the main drivers of the divisions in our federation. The SACP is leading this attempt. Instead of uniting the labour movement, the South African Communist Party (SACP) has been the leader of criticising those who are for an independent and campaigning COSATU, labelling them as counter-revolutionary. Motivating the SACP to launch this attack is the official criticism that COSATU levelled at the party, arguing that since party leaders went into government, the SACP has been absent in mass struggles and has become an apologist of the government. Irritating the party more than anything else was the call for the general secretary and provincial secretaries of the party to leave government and be full-time in the organisation.
The SACP congress in Ongoye openly resolved to intervene in COSATU, which is supposed to be an independent formation of the Alliance, to isolate and defeat us. Ever since then, the political crisis in COSATU deepened and COSATU divisions worsened.
We need unity in action around a revolutionary agenda
There is no priority more important than safeguarding the capacity of the working class to act in its own interests. The unity of the working class is critically important, but it has to be based on unity in action. We need to continuously assert, in action, that we need a united, independent and campaigning COSATU that is able to implement its own resolutions without favour or fear. For this assertion to happen in action, the unity and independence of COSATU is sacrosanct and of paramount importance.
COSATU must at all times advance a revolutionary agenda. We need to capture the masses through the Freedom Charter and its implementation because many people and affiliates want to see that happening.
We need an accountable COSATU leadership
We need COSATU leaders that are first and foremost accountable to the federation, who adhere to its constitution and are committed to implementation of the federation’s policies, resolutions and programmes. COSATU leadership, affiliates and members should champion policies agreed upon in constitutional meetings and not turn them into individual members’ or leaders’ mandates. There must be immediate implementation of both the 11th National Congress and March 2013 Collective Bargaining Conference resolutions of the federation.
We must fight for a militant, independent, unified COSATU. NUMSA shop stewards must continue to be visible and active in all COSATU structures and leadership positions in order to deepen our ideological perspectives, to change mindsets and to develop a clear understanding of the challenges confronting COSATU. We must fight for the unity and independence of COSATU. It should not be influenced by outside forces and that we must resist COSATU from being reduced into a toy telephone.
As NUMSA, we should continue driving and championing all COSATU campaigns that are relevant to the workers and the working class at large. With all our strength and intelligence, we must continue the fight to keep our federation independent and on the path of militant action in the interests of the working class. We must guard against any splinters in COSATU and the fragmentation of the federation; instead we must continuously engage other affiliates of COSATU, winning over those that are on the other side of the trenches.
In striving for unity within the federation, we must ensure that we alleviate the social distance between the leadership and the general membership.
We must fight for a COSATU Special National Congress
Only a Special National Congress of COSATU can help us move out of the current crisis in the federation. Failing the convening of the COSATU Special National Congress by the president we will invoke clause 18.104.22.168. of the federation’s constitution. This clause states that the COSATU Central Executive Committee (CEC) can appoint a convenor for the Special National Congress.
In case we fail to have the CEC appoint a convenor, as NUMSA we must explore other routes beyond possible legal avenues that will lead to the COSATU Special National Congress being convened. We must develop a better understanding of COSATU’s crisis.
NUMSA must conduct further work in order to deepen our understanding of the crisis in COSATU.
This work must explore, among others:
Adopted by NUMSA Special National Congress, unanimously by 1050 delegates.
1. Noting that;
1.1. The Alliance is dysfunctional, in crisis and paralysed. It is dominated by infighting, factionalism and fails to meet regularly.
1.2. Although there are protests everywhere and every day in the country, the Alliance is not an instrument in the hands of these struggling masses nor does it provide leadership to these struggles which is largely leaderless struggles. The reality is that there is a political vacuum and the working class is on its own.
1.3. The Freedom Charter which we understood as the minimum platform of the Alliance has been completely abandoned in favour of rightwing and neo-liberal policies such as the National Development Plan (NDP).
1.4. There exists little common understanding within the Alliance of the real objectives of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR).
1.5. The Alliance operates and works during election periods and it is our experience that the working class is being used by the leader of the Alliance – the African National Congress (ANC) - as voting fodder.
1.6. The Alliance has been captured and taken over by rightwing forces. Those who are perceived to be against neo-liberalism or advocates of policies in favour of the working class and the poor are seen as problematic, isolated or purged.
1.7. Dominant classes in society have swayed the Alliance in their favour.
1.8. The ANC has resisted the reconfiguration of the Alliance into a strategic political centre where issues of policy, deployments into government and programmes are jointly decided upon by all components of the Alliance.
1.9. The strategy of swelling the ranks has not worked and all resolutions of COSATU congresses in relation to how the Alliance should function have not been implemented by the leaders of the Alliance.
1.10. In practice the Alliance is still in the hands of one alliance partner, the ANC. The ANC is the centre and implements government programmes and policies alone with little or no consultation with other components of the Alliance.
1.11. There is strong opposition from the ANC to an alliance agreement or pact. The movement has told us in no uncertain words that the ANC is the political centre. They have also argued against the pact, quoting OR Tambo when he said at the SACP’s 60th anniversary in 1981: “Ours is not merely a paper alliance, as created at conference tables and formalised through the signing of documents and representing only an agreement of leaders".
1.12. As NUMSA we have been detecting an abuse by the ANC of other Alliance partners.
1.13. The alliance is used to rubber stamp neoliberal policies of the ANC and not as a centre of power that debate policy issues and implementation.
1.14. The treatment of labour as a junior partner within the Alliance is not uniquely a South African phenomenon. In many post-colonial and post-revolutionary situations, liberation and revolutionary movements have turned on labour movements that fought alongside them; suppressed them, marginalised them, split them, robbed them of their independence or denied them any meaningful role in politics and policy making.
1.15. The recent alliance summit still failed to make fundamental changes to the current proposed NDP and had no significant impact in changing policies in favour of the working class and the poor.
2. Further noting that;
2.1 There is no chance of winning back the Alliance to what it was originally formed for; which was to drive a revolutionary programme for fundamental transformation of the country with the Freedom Charter as the minimum platform to transform the South African economy.
2.2 The South African Communist Party (SACP) leadership has become embedded in the state and is failing to act as the vanguard of the working class.
2.3 The chance of winning back the SACP onto the path of working class struggle for working class power is very remote.
2.4 For the struggle for socialism, the working class needs a political organisation committed in theory and practice to socialism.
3. Therefore resolve that;
3.1 In light of the above as NUMSA, we should call on COSATU to break from the Alliance. The time for looking for an alternative has arrived.
3.1.1. that our members and shopstewards must be active on all fronts and in all struggles against neo-liberal policies whether these policies are being implemented in the workplace or in communities.
3.1.2. that in all our constitutional structures, there should be a standing agenda item on community struggles, their nature and NUMSA’s attitude to these community struggles.
3.2 As NUMSA, we must lead in the establishment of a new UNITED FRONT that will coordinate struggles in the workplace and in communities; in a way similar to the UDF of the 1980s. The task of this front will be to fight for the implementation of the Freedom Charter and be an organisational weapon against neoliberal policies such as the NDP. For this to happen it requires:
3.3. Side by side to the establishment of the new UNITED FRONT, we in NUMSA must explore the establishment of a MOVEMENT FOR SOCIALISM as the working class needs a political organisation committed in its policies and actions to the establishment of a socialist South Africa.
3.4. In order to execute the task of exploring the establishment of the MOVEMENT FOR SOCIALISM, as a union we must do the following:
3.4.1. In line with the existing NUMSA resolution, convene a Conference on Socialism
3.4.2. Leading up to the this conference, NUMSA must conduct a thoroughgoing discussion on previous attempts to build socialism as well as current experiments to build socialism
3.4.3. Commission an international study on the historical formation of working class parties. As part of this study we need to explore the different type of parties – from mass workers parties to vanguard parties. We must look at countries such as Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, Greece and any other experiments.
3.5. This work to explore the formation of a MOVEMENT FOR SOCIALISM must be regularly reported to constitutional structures and the work must be finalised by the first NUMSA Central Committee in 2015.
3.6. In all the work being done whether on building a new united front and exploring the formation of a Movement for Socialism, as NUMSA we must be alert to gains that may present possibilities of either the new united front or any other progressive coalition or party committed to socialism standing for elections in future. The NUMSA constitutional structures must continuously assess these developments and possibilities.