NUMSA describes post 1994 South Africa as a ‘racist colonial economy and society’

South African students in London march against Zuma
South African students in London march against Zuma

THE National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) 10th National Congress, held on 12th to 15th December in Cape Town issued a Congress Declaration on the last day: ‘Building Strong, Vibrant and Politically Conscious Workplaces!’

News Line is pleased to publish excerpts:

‘1. NUMSA’s 10th National Congress, held from 12-15 December 2016, was attended by 1,063 voting delegates, representing 340,687 members of the biggest trade union in the African continent.

‘2. The NUMSA Workers’ Parliament paid its respects to the memory of Comrade Fidel Castro, one of the greatest Marxist-Leninist revolutionary leaders of all time, and agreed that we should seek ways to take forward his life’s work.

‘3. Delegates analysed the crisis facing workers around the world and the special South African crisis of rocketing unemployment, deepening poverty affecting especially millions of the black and African working class and the highest level of inequality in the world.

‘4. Delegates affirmed the historic decision of the 2013 Special National Congress to end NUMSA’s support for the African National Congress, build a new independent, democratic workers’ federation, a United Front and a revolutionary socialist party…


Socio-economic crisis

‘6. The world capitalist system remains mired in a deep, long-term structural crisis, which is causing mass poverty, widespread unemployment, extreme inequality and environmental destruction.

‘7. It is an economy dominated by money capital to which all other forms of economic activity – agricultural, industry, energy, construction and telecommunications – are subordinate.

‘8. The workplace has not escaped this mania for money. Workplace restructuring, retrenchments, short-time, casualisation, short contracts, labour brokering, precarious work and a large growing army of the unemployed are features of the world today as capitalists compete to make money by cutting costs and using the latest technologies.

‘9. What is now being called the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” is creating even higher unemployment as machines and computer software efficiently perform tasks that workers used to do. But machines cannot consume what they produce. As production rises and jobs dwindle, supply rises and demand falls, leading to an inevitable crisis of over-production which the system can only self-correct by massive destruction of existing production capacity, debt and retrenchments.

‘10. In the deliberately impoverished neo-colonies in Africa, Asia and Latin America this means more and worse misery, oppression, hunger and exploitation for the working class and the rural poor, often leading to popular protests, while in the advanced countries themselves we see the rise of extreme right wing anti-immigration, xenophobic and racist politics.

‘11. Congress declares that with the internet and all other technologies which can connect the world working class into a global fighting force to defeat global capitalism which is threatening not only human life but the entirety of our universe, there have never been better conditions for the success of the global Socialist Revolution than now.

‘12. We shall strive to unite and work with left forces anywhere in the world and independently approach left and Marxist forces, including those who are traditional ANC allies, to explain our positions and our presence in global unions to spread the ideas of socialism…

‘16. We condemn the racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-immigrants and similar beliefs of the newly elected president of the United States – Donald Trump.

‘17. We condemn the imperialist-promoted wars in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria, Uganda, the Central African Republic and elsewhere whose main victims are the working class, their children and the rural poor!…

‘We in NUMSA still describe post-1994 South Africa as a racist colonial economy and society.’

‘20. We condemn the racist white monopoly capitalist system in South Africa for responding to this latest crisis of capitalism by intensifying the super-exploitation of black and African labour.

‘21. Congress resolved to fight for more protection for local production, the radical transformation of the economy, land expropriation without compensation, nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy and food security for the downtrodden in our country.

‘22. Congress agreed to call for a referendum on the land question and food security…


‘24. NUMSA has consistently fought against corruption. At our 2013 Special National Congress, we were the first to raise the demand for President Zuma to resign, because, as our resolution said: “President Zuma’s administration has been marked by one scandal after the other,” including “pursuit of neo-liberal 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.”

‘25. Delegates not only reaffirmed that resolution but insisted that Zuma must face the 783 corruption charges, and be jailed, if found guilty…

‘27. Hundreds of billions of rands are leaving the country as capitalists put their cash where they will make the quickest and biggest profits, with no regard for the welfare of the national economy, our people, our environment and least of all the conditions of their workers who produce the wealth. The whole capitalist system is corrupt…

‘31. NUMSA affirms its view that the corruption we face is not merely the moral fault of this or that faction within the capitalist class and its state, but the inherently structurally corrupt and rotten capitalist system as a whole, which NUMSA is committed to overthrowing and replacing with Socialism…

Political challenges

‘35. Congress affirmed that for the past two decades the South African revolution and the revolutionary forces that propelled it for years have failed to transform the Minerals/Energy/Finance complex:

‘a) The land question has not been addressed.

‘b) The ANC-led alliance refuses to address the issue of the ownership and control of the economy through nationalising minerals and the commanding heights of the economy.

‘c) Inequality has become the highest in the world. In 1994, when apartheid ended, the richest 1% took 12% of the country’s income, but 15 years later this had risen to 20%.

‘d) The 2016 pay taken home by Shoprite chief executive Whitey Basson – more than R100 million – is 3,500 times that of a typical casualised worker at his stores…

‘38. A revolutionary vision to emancipate economically marginalised and dispossessed blacks and Africans was traded off for a negotiated settlement. The super-exploitation of black and African labour was left intact…

‘42. A fundamental symptom of the ongoing crisis of the post 1994 racist and colonial economy and society of South Africa is the escalating crisis and conflict in the universities.

‘43. Congress agreed that we need to more actively back the students’ struggle for free, quality and decolonised education and that we must get into the front line of this struggle…

‘44. Our immediate political task is to get the national democratic revolution back on track by asserting the revolutionary and socialist working class leadership of this revolution and to re-assert the Freedom Charter as the basic programme of this revolution and as a platform to unite all the class forces that suffer under the yoke of colonial dispossession and imperialist domination.

‘45. We have to proceed without delay to actively build a Marxist-Leninist Vanguard Revolutionary Workers Party. . .

Industrial crisis

‘50. Congress reiterated its demand for a job-led economic growth path and industrialisation, through the development of an alternative industrial policy plan to promote sustainable and decent work creation, economic development and security.

‘51. We shall convene an African continental meeting where we must discuss issues of solidarity in fighting multinationals and collaborate with the international working class and socialist formations, NGOs, churches, youth and gender structures across the globe…

‘61. Congress demands that labour broking must be abolished completely and stricter labour measures taken against foreign-owned companies.

‘62. We need to win the 40-hour week in all our sectors and will mobilise rolling mass action against any limitation on the right to strike, including proposed legislation that aims to enforce a ballot before striking and the compulsory arbitration of strikes.

‘63. We denounce with contempt the current minimum wage of R3,500 put forward at NEDLAC by Cyril Ramaphosa as a modern-day slavery wage that does not come close to the R12,500 which Marikana workers were massacred for. The proposed amount was our demand more than 20 years ago and material conditions have drastically changed since then.

‘64. Congress agreed to campaign against this poverty minimum wage, and to adopt R12,500 as a minimum wage in South Africa, in honour of the Marikana workers, and that any minimum wage should be in terms of real inflation and the prevailing high inequality that exists in our country.

‘65. Further, no minimum wage in South Africa will be meaningful unless it is linked to abolishing the apartheid wage gap and to a living wage.

‘66. No society can be free and democratic in which half of its population suffers gender oppression, domination and exploitation. Congress called for a radical mind-set change in society towards women. We must fight for gender equality…


‘69. NUMSA has the proud history of having participated in the bitter struggles against colonisation, racism and exploitation. We have been inspired by Chris Hani, JB Marx, Oliver Tambo, Ray Alexander, JZ Matthews, the Buntings, Ruth First, among many other revolutionaries…

‘74. We must continue to build NUMSA as a fighting organisation, given that less than 30% of formal sector workers are unionised.

‘75. Congress has agreed to set a membership target of 500,000 by 2020…

‘77. Our challenge is to continue to fight for the immediate needs for workers, while our long-term objective is to produce a cadre that accepts that capitalism as a system has no solution for problems that confront humanity.

United Front, New Federation and Revolutionary Party

‘88. We must move swiftly and build the United Front and all NUMSA members must work harder to build it…

‘93. NUMSA will remain a union and will not turn itself into a political party.

‘94. However, all our shop stewards and officials should maintain an activist role and take responsibility for the party we are building.

‘95. The new party will strive to reconnect with other Left forces, which participated in the National Conference for a Socialist South Africa in the context of uniting the working class movement towards a common socialist agenda.


‘99. Congress declares that NUMSA has no choice but to defend and grow itself, grow the United Front, work to facilitate the birth of a new, militant, democratic and worker controlled federation and give birth to a revolutionary socialist workers party!

‘100. Indeed, we must create the revolutionary mass vanguard political party to lead the struggle for socialism in South Africa. The alternative is the continued savagery and barbarism of capitalism, and civil wars!’

Issued by NUMSA, 15 December 2016