THE National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has rejected and expressed disgust at the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions’ (COSATU) endorsement of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa as the future leader of the African National Congress (ANC).
Last Thursday, COSATU’s central executive committee resolved to support and lobby for Ramaphosa to take over as the next president of the ruling party ANC. ‘We are mindful of the fact that we are not a voting structure of the ANC, but we represent workers, who are members and supporters of the ANC,’ COSATU secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said.
The ANC’s 2017 national conference would see the party branches elect their preferred successor to incumbent Jacob Zuma, who is facing mounting pressure to step down. NUMSA general secretary Irvin Jim issued the following statement on Friday: ‘The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa is disgusted that COSATU’s Central Executive Committee has endorsed Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to take over as leader of the ANC and that it will be campaigning and lobbying to influence ANC structures to support its call.
‘NUMSA has already put on record its view that Cyril Ramaphosa is an enemy of the working class. He has consistently attacked workers’ hard-won gains and defended the interests of the exploiting capitalist class, most recently when he supported legislation to maintain poverty wages and the super-exploitation of Black and African labour under the disguise of national minimum wage at a level which will leave millions of workers in wage-slavery.
‘We have condemned his plan, in cahoots with Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant, to impose limitations on the right to strike and thus take away from workers a right enshrined in the constitution, while labour brokers are free to continue to exploit workers.
‘Cyril Ramaphosa has consistently attacked working class interests to benefit the capitalist class of which he has become a member. He was party to a negotiated settlement with white monopoly capital which left the economy owned and controlled by the very same capitalist class.
‘He ensured that there was a property clause in the constitution which would keep ownership of the economy in the hands of South Africa’s white, racist, capitalist, colonial elite – with a few black faces like his being co-opted to disguise this retention of the status quo.
‘Worst of all, as a director of Lonmin, he was directly implicated in the massacre of 34 Marikana workers who demanded a living wage of R12500. By now announcing a national minimum wage of R3500 he is spitting on the graves of those workers who suffered exploitation until the oppressive agents of the capitalist state took their lives.
‘This move by COSATU is further proof of its degeneration from the militant champion of workers it once was to a tame adjunct of the ruling capitalist class. They have decided to back a candidate for the leadership of the ANC who will continue and consolidate the government’s pursuit of neoliberal economic policies.
‘An ANC government led by Ramaphosa will be no better than the one led by Jacob Zuma. It will continue to consolidate the power of white monopoly capitalism and to reassure credit ratings agencies that South Africa is a good place to invest and exploit our natural resources and cheap labour.
‘It will do nothing to stop corruption and the looting of the country’s wealth, which is not confined to a few crony capitalists and their political friends but which is entrenched in the whole corrupt capitalist system. It is high time that COSATU and its affiliates, in particular members who are super-exploited by the capitalist class in South Africa, who are victims of mass poverty, mass unemployment and huge inequalities as a result of ANC and DA neo-liberal policies, wake up and accept that enough is enough!
‘This hot pursuit of advancing and pinning working class hopes and interests around individuals, without a working class revolutionary agenda is disastrous and it is directly responsible for why white monopoly capital and the white population became the main beneficiaries of the past two decades and that the working class, in particular blacks and Africans, continues to languish at the bottom of the food chain.
‘NUMSA must remind COSATU and its affiliates that Lenin was correct when he warned all of us that there can be no revolutionary move forward without revolutionary theory. Chopping and changing individual preference in the ANC has become the political axis of the class that exploits the working class, with economic policies absolutely no different from those of the Democratic Alliance – to maintain the status quo in which white monopoly capital, in alliance with Cyril Ramaphosa, continues to own and control the economy.
‘So the SACP and COSATU’s support of Cyril Ramaphosa is nothing short of ideological confusion, but – let us be frank – this is not just furthering the aims of maintaining the stranglehold of white monopoly capital in the economy and in owning the land, but open opportunism. Quite frankly, this is a struggle for gravy train positions in parliament.
‘NUMSA can say this now honestly and frankly because we have been consistent; we have warned the ANC-led alliance that its failure to undo the property clause in the constitution, to address the land question, to fully implement the Freedom Charter, to nationalise strategic commanding heights of the economy and strategic minerals under worker control, can only lead to the ANC alliance losing power. We are vindicated!
‘The ANC has lost political power; it has been rejected by the industrial proletariat in all metros in the country, and it has become a rural party. Worst of all, it has lost power to a right-wing conservative political party – the Democratic Alliance – that champions super-exploitation of black and African labour, a party that will do everything in making sure that the South African economy is not transformed, is not restructured, is not owned and controlled by both black and white.
‘COSATU and the SACP are not waking up and first revisiting their revolutionary credentials and revolutionary agenda and mobilising the working class as a class behind a revolutionary agenda, which would:
• Alter the structure of the South African economy,
• Dump the failed GEAR and the NDP, and once more revisit full implementation of the Freedom Charter,
• Champion nationalisation of strategic minerals,
• Address fundamentals of the ownership of the economy by black and African who are economically marginalised and dispossessed,
• Champion job-led industrial strategy, and
• Demand free and compulsory education.
‘NO! COSATU, in its political stagnation, instead of having confidence in the working class as a locomotive force of history and as the most consistent class to pursue and to champion class struggle as the only guarantee for change, decides to vote for the CEO of the minerals, energy and finance complex and white monopoly capital, Cyril Ramaphosa.
‘NUMSA is more convinced than ever that its revolutionary path of mobilising the working class to pursue a revolutionary agenda is today in the workers’ interests and we must struggle, while being very clear as workers and the poor that the capitalist system does not have solutions for problems that confront humanity.
‘It is a system that advances greed, rather than advancing humanity and we are clear that the struggle that must be waged in South Africa – with its extreme levels of poverty, shocking and growing levels of unemployment, plant closures, corruption that is inherent in the capitalist system, crime daily meted to children and women – is the struggle for socialism.
‘That remains the only future – not Cyril Ramaphosa and his capitalist cronies. The current crumbling of the alliance, its indecisive leadership around Jacob Zuma, ideological confusion on what must be done to stimulate the economy because they have completely run out of ideas – with all their capitalist economists, who are ideological priests, together with ratings agencies, who are responsible for why today you have the failed GEAR and the NDP as macro-economic frameworks – can only mean one thing: that we have a national political crisis in the country, and that past liberation forces that brought about the 1994 political break-through have lost the liberation vision and that NUMSA was correct, despite us having to be expelled, that the National Democratic Revolution is completely off-track and indeed now is the time to organise the working class as a class for itself.
‘Otherwise, unless the advanced detachment of the working class pursues the revolutionary agenda and mobilises the as a class behind such an agenda with the urgency it deserves, right wing counter-revolutionary forces led by the Democratic Alliance will have an opportunity to win back political power which many honest committed revolutionary leaders of the liberation struggle died and fought for. If this were to happen we must forget about freedom and total emancipation of our people.
‘NUMSA is not just angered and irritated by Cosatu’s sell-out support of the slavery minimum wage of R3,500 advanced by them and Cyril Ramaphosa, but by the fact that Cosatu is flirting with Cyril Ramaphosa, debating whether to take away the rights of workers to strike which is enshrined in the constitution and still have the guts to want to make such a Thatcherite a future president of the country!
‘We are clearer than ever that COSATU slowly but surely has become extremely dangerous and against the interests of workers. We can only make one conclusion: that COSATU lost its revolutionary ethos the day it decided to get rid of its industrial proletariat.
‘NUMSA is more certain than ever that it is time for the working class to build a new revolutionary workers’ party which will be committed in its policies and actions to fight to overthrow the power of capital and establish a socialist South Africa.’