THREE NUMSA shop steward leaders were gunned down late on Wednesday 6 August 2014 in the KwaZulu-Natal province.
A National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) statement said the union ‘outrightly condemns what looks like a well-calculated and dastardly killing of the secretary of Isithebe NUMSA Local NjabuloNdebele, his deputy Sibonelo ‘John-John’ Ntuli and Ntobeko Maphumulo, who were killed in the family home of one of the slain shop-stewards.
‘A NUMSA member, Comrade Ntshebentshebe who works at Metso Minerals (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd and who was with the three at the time, is critical in hospital as a result of the bullet shots he received.
‘Ndebele, Ntuli and Maphumulo were killed after they travelled back to Isithebe from a union meeting that took place earlier in Durban. The union has been reliably informed by witnesses that an unidentified car arrived where the four NUMSA members were and opened fire, mainly targeting the three. All three died on the scene.
‘As NUMSA, we are extremely concerned by the killing of these three local leaders. Their untimely and senseless death robs the union three of its best and promising worker and trade union leaders in our province. It removes three breadwinners from three families.
‘As a union, while asserting our right to defend our members, we call on our members in Isithebe to remain calm and allow the police to investigate the circumstances that led to the killing of these three leaders.
‘Furthermore, we appeal to anyone that might have information around this barbaric deed to approach the police and provide necessary information.
‘We call on the law enforcement agencies, particularly the police, to apprehend the culprits so that they can face the full might of the law. As NUMSA, we extend our deepest and heartfelt condolences to the families of the three slain NUMSA shop-stewards. NUMSA’s regional leadership will visit the families of three comrades to convey the union’s condolences.
‘We also promise to keep our fallen comrades in our memories by continuing to work for the ideals that they believed in and stood for. We know that working class people and NUMSA activists will face similar incidents as we implement our December 2013 Special National Congress resolution to explore the establishment of an alternative Movement for Socialism.
‘We are saddened that the assassination of the three comrades takes place on the eve of the International Symposium of Left Parties and Movements that starts on 07 August and concludes on 10 August 2014.
‘Both Ndebele and Ntuli, as members of the union’s Mbuyiselo Ngwenda Brigade were coming to the symposium. Their contributions at the symposium will be sorely missed.’
The Special National Congress (SNC) in December 2013 mandated the NUMSA national leadership to ‘explore’ the establishment of a Movement for Socialism (MfS) given that the working class needs a political organisation committed in its policies and actions to the establishment of a Socialist Society.
The International Symposium of Left Parties/Movements, sponsored by NUMSA, began Wednesday 7th August under the banner headline, ‘Building our own Movement for Socialism: Learning the Lessons First Hand’ and will run until Friday in Benoni, Kopanong Hotel.
A NUMSA statement said: ‘We remain convinced that the only viable solutions for humanity lie within Socialism. The current global capitalist crises, genocide, senseless wars to impose imperialist interests and environmental degradation, demonstrate for all to see, that capitalism is a discredited and barbaric system.
It continued: ‘The majority of South Africans – who constitutes the black working class and rural/landless poor – no longer, feel that the 1994 democratic breakthrough will mean anything beyond periodic elections.
‘The daily experience of the working class and rural/landless poor is that of mass poverty, unemployment and extreme inequalities in a very rich country – 20 years after our democratic breakthrough – it is patently clear that South Africans are as far apart as they were before 1994.
‘Much of the despondency of the working class is as a direct result of the failure by the 1994 breakthrough to radically implement the Freedom Charter in full. NUMSA is determined to campaign for the full and radical implementation of the Freedom Charter.
‘No one, we must insist, must pretend that all is well in post 1994 South Africa when millions of workers, especially young Black workers, cannot find work. Half our population lives substandard lives, surviving well below any decent poverty line.
‘The massive de-industrialisation we have suffered as a result of the reckless neoliberal capitalist policies post 1994, from GEAR to the now repackaged, yet identical twin called the National Development Plan (NDP), will simply worsen our plight.
‘Given our natural wealth, we are convinced South Africa can become a developing and prospering country in which the majority of our people can be provided with meaningful and decent work, share the land, live safe and in peaceful environments.
‘It is entirely possible, through knowledge production, to offer young and old free education from pre-school up to graduate level. Cuba is a shining example of how health and education is the primary concern of the Socialist State outshining by far the inferior education and health provided in existing capitalist societies.
‘We are convinced that we can have a thriving rural population with sufficient food and a sustainable livelihood. We know that it is very possible to have the wealth of the country benefit all the people of South Africa.
‘This is what the Freedom Charter demands and this is what the rulers since 1994 has abandoned to enrich a tiny minority at the expense of the majority. To achieve all this and more, South Africa must start and navigate its tough journey towards socialism.
‘The strategic objectives of the Symposium are:
• Learn, first hand, from the experiences of different parties and movements globally, including in the global South, both historically and those currently leading the struggle to reconstruct Socialism;
• Carefully study the historical formation and programmes of working class parties internationally;
• Explore the different type of parties – from mass workers parties to vanguard parties, in taking cognisance that in the struggle for Socialism, a number of organisational forms were thrown up as instruments of the working class to rise to the position of being the new ruling class;
• Through the lessons from elsewhere, deepen our own understanding and work on building the SNC resolution on the Movement for Socialism towards the 2015 NUMSAInternational Conference on Socialism;
• Build global solidarity and lasting alliances with trade unions, left political parties and social movements who share our passion and vision in advancing our struggle for a socialist South Africa and ultimately a socialist global order.
‘The December 2013 Special National Congress determined that a comprehensive report of our international study in exploring the Movement for Socialism must be submitted to the March 2015 NUMSA Central Committee.’