|The News Line: Feature
Saturday, 6 April 2019
‘Labour brokers are bloodsuckers’ – Irvin Jim at SRWP election rally
THE SOCIALIST Revolutionary Workers Party (SRWP) of South Africa was founded in March this year as a communist, Marxist-Leninist party, after a pre-launch convention at the end of 2018 and immediately intends to stand in elections.
|Workers in South Africa on a demonstration against Labour Brokers – the SRWP wants them banned
‘Labour brokers are bloodsuckers and a cancer which need to be rooted out for the working class to advance,’ National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) general secretary Irvin Jim said on Wednesday just ahead of the launch of the new party’s congress from the 4th to the 6th April.
Jim was speaking as the national convenor of the Socialist Revolutionary Workers’ Party, at its election rally held at the Nangoza Jebe Hall in New Brighton. He took aim mainly at the government ahead of the party’s official national launch on Thursday.
Jim confirmed the new party, NUMSA’s brainchild, would contest the elections on May 8.
The party would also launch its branches in Nelson Mandela Bay on Thursday, he told the crowd of about 400 people. Jim said the party’s main focus would be on combatting anti-poor and anti-worker policies, and it wanted labour brokers banned.
‘They are bloodsuckers. They are a cancer,’ he said. ‘It is the workers who work. Instead of those workers being paid benefits, their money, that could have gone for benefits and everything else, goes to you as a labour broker. ‘We stand by our initial demand that labour brokers must be banned, but the ANC government has refused to do that, so we will now have to take up this fight on our own in court.’
About the R20-an-hour national minimum wage announced by the government in 2018, Jim said: ‘As a union we view President Cyril Ramaphosa’s introduction of that national minimum wage as the worst attack on the hard-won gains of workers. ‘Not only that, the constitutional right of workers to strike has also been attacked.’
Jim said if it came into power, the party would restructure the economy.
‘We will be waging a struggle to transform the South African economy. ‘We believe this country is very rich, and all that needs to be done is to nationalise all of our minerals, beneficiate and diversify them, create new sectors and new jobs,’ he said.
‘We would ban the export of scrap metal, because if you do that you can make sure you reopen the foundries that were destroyed by the government.’ He said the party would nationalise the SA Reserve Bank. ‘Our mission is to deal with the concentration of wealth in the hands of the minority,’ Jim said.
The party launch is taking place now in Johannesburg. Elected officials of the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party are set to earn minimum wage, while the rest of their earnings will be remitted to the party.
This is one of the proposals to be debated by the party at its inaugural congress and manifesto launch in Boksburg. About 1,100 delegates and guests from various countries are part of the congress.
Over the three days of the founding congress, the Socialist Revolutionary Workers’ Party will elect its central committee and adopt its manifesto for the 2019 elections.
Spokesperson Mikaela Erskog said: ‘Elections are going to be used as a platform to engage our constituency more broadly.’
The party says it plans to disrupt the political landscape. Among its proposals is that those elected to the central committee shall not be Members of Parliament (MPs). And those who become MPs can only earn minimum wage, and the rest of their wages will be remitted to the party. All these proposals will be finalised by Saturday.
The roots of the SRWP lie in the split between the NUMSA union and the COSATU federation in 2013. The split was mainly caused by the growing discontent of the NUMSA leadership with the ANC, which is supported by the COSATU through the Tripartite Alliance, together with the South African Communist Party.
After the split, NUMSA general-secretary Irvin Jim announced the formation of ‘a new united front’. Together with the new South African Congress of Trade Unions (SAFTU), the SRWP would be part of this new united front. The launch in December 2018 was attended by 1,100 delegates from all provinces of South Africa in Boksburg, with delegations from residence associations and members of SAFTU unions in attendance.
According to its Facebook page: ‘With the revolutionary spirit of Fieldmore Mapeto alive in us all, today we commit ourselves to the long and winding road of class struggle as we launch the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party.
‘We openly declare for all the world to know that we as Socialists are committed to building the organisation of a revolutionary working class. ‘A class aware of its own interests. A class that will overthrow the capitalist parasites. A working class that will seize power for the project of building Socialism, in which no human will be exploited by another.’ (Dated 15 December 2018)
Fieldmore Mapeto was buried in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, 25 August, 2018, having been ill for some time. His coffin was wrapped in a specially made copy of the red flag of the 143rd Battalion that defended the Paris Commune in 1871, with the added symbol of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa.
He joined uMkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the ANC formed in 1961, at the age of 17. He opposed the alliance formed between the African National Congress (ANC), the South African Communist Party (SACP), and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and was an inspirational figure in the South African labour movement.
The press statement launching the new party in December finished by saying: ‘We depart from our Pre-Launch Conference determined not to fail the workers of the world in our struggle for a Socialist South Africa, Africa and Socialist World.’
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