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NUMSA Central Committee press statement
7 March 2013
“People always have been the foolish victims of deception and self-deception in politics, and they always will be until they have learnt to seek out the interests of some class or other behind all moral, religious, political and social phrases, declarations and promises. Champions of reforms and improvements will always be fooled by the defenders of the old order until they realise that every old institution, however barbarous and rotten it may appear to be, is kept going by the forces of certain ruling classes. And there is only one way of smashing the resistance of those classes, and that is to find, in the very society which surrounds us, the forces which can—and, owing to their social position, must—constitute the power capable of sweeping away the old and creating the new, and to enlighten and organise those forces for the struggle.”
(Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, The Three Sources and Three Components Parts of Marxism, March 1913)
A. The March 2013 Central Committee Meeting
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) held its ordinary, scheduled Central Committee (CC) meeting from Monday the 4th of March to Thursday the 7th of March 2013, at the Vincent Mabuyakhulu Conference Centre (VMCC), Newtown, Johannesburg.
This was our first CC meeting for the year 2013. The CC received political, organisational, international and financial reports from the National Office Bearers elected by the 9th National Congress held in 2012. This CC was augmented and included worker-leaders from our Local structures, as well as our Shopstewards serving in leading positions of our allied National Liberation Movement led by the African National Congress (ANC) and the vanguard political party of the working class, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and our own class oriented and fighting federation, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).
B. We are all Chavez – Metalworkers mourn the death of the Venezuelan Socialist Revolutionary leader!
The CC received with great shock and deep grief the painfully sad news of the passing away of Venezuelan President and leader of the Bolivarian socialist revolution, Comrade Hugo Chavez.
We at Numsa will cherish the memories of Comrade Chavez as a modern day, post Soviet Union, socialist revolutionary. Comrade Chavez demonstrated that it is possible to advance real socialism today.
Comrade Chavez was rightly hated by capitalists and imperialists and deeply loved by working, slum and poor rural people whose interests he defended and advanced so well!
The CC extends its condolences to the Chavez family, to the Venezuelan working and poor rural peoples, to the popular forces in Latin America and Left forces across the world. In Durban and on Sunday 24 March, Numsa will hold a memorial service for Hugo Chavez. The memorial will coincide with arrival of thousands of activists and progressives from all over the world who are coming to activities around the BRICS summit that is being in Durban.
C. The immediate context in which the CC was held
The CC noted that it was taking place within the context of the ongoing class and ideological onslaught to weaken and capture our federation, COSATU, including the use of poisonous and vicious personal and political attacks directed at COSATU General Secretary Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi. The CC also noted with anger and dismay:
- the brutal murder, reminiscent of the old apartheid-style Special Branch operations, of a Taxi-Driver and Mozambican migrant worker, Mido Macia, by members of the South African Police Services (SAPS) in Daveyton;
- the ongoing onslaught faced by farm workers and mineworkers in their just struggle for a living wage and improved conditions of employment;
- The brutal scourge of rape and gender-based violence bedevilling our country, particularly in working class and poor communities.
The NUMSA Central Committee also noted that its meeting takes place on the 100th year after the passing of the Native Land Act of 1913 and on the eve of wage negotiations and collective bargaining in the motor sector; tyre & rubber sector; auto assembly; Eskom and in some smelters in which Numsa organises in.
The CC commended our structures and members for a waging a popular and relentless campaign against Eskom’s Multi-Year Price Determination (MYPD3). Through this campaign NUMSA was able to form a broad front of forces to champion a revolutionary campaign to oppose the ridiculous application by Eskom, which was going to have negative consequences on our economy, particularly on job security, amidst the triple crisis of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
The campaign reaffirmed NUMSA’s red revolutionary character and Congress Movement traditions of being a campaigning and activist union. Through this campaign we buried the false insinuations by our class opponents which characterize NUMSA as a workerist trade union! Our campaign enjoyed popular support amongst the broadest possible sections of all our people, from all classes!
The next phase of our electricity campaign will to direct our structures in May 2013 to the municipal level where local authorities are meant to now factor the 8% increase that Eskom has been granted.
D. The ANC Mangaung Conference and the working class
1. What has emerged from Mangaung:
(a) With respect to leadership in the NEC and Top Six – The Central Committee was unanimous that the leadership that has emerged cannot be defined as a working class orientated. NUMSA remains resolute to fight for a working class-biased ANC.
The decision of the Numsa and Cosatu General Secretaries not to accept nominations was necessary given the balance of forces and the ulterior motives of right-wing forces in the national liberation movement to make them lame ducks, humiliating them and isolating and liquidating their contribution in the movement.
(b) With respect to the policies adopted in Mangaung – The Central Committee is of the view that;
- Mangaung failed to break new ground towards a radical second phase of the National Democratic Revolution. There was no sign of the fundamental transformation of the South African economy, which remains in the hands of white monopoly capital and imperialism.
- The adoption of the NDP amounted to a postponement of the key challenge of resolving the triple crisis of poverty, unemployment and inequality until 2030. It is also, in our view, fundamentally incompatible with the core tenets of the Freedom Charter.
- Nationalisation was dumped, thereby prioritising the interests of business confidence rather than the plight of the working class and the poor in our society – Numsa will continue to champion the nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy. In this regard we must mobilise broader society for the implementation of the Freedom Charter
- The engagement of delegates in the Mangaung conference, which expressed the need for a revolutionary programme of action, did not find expression in the policy formulations and this is a political practice inherited from the culture of the Class of ’96. Effectively, the revolutionary programme of the Freedom Charter was replaced with the neo-liberal programme of the NDP– Numsa CC re-affirms the need to continue with the S77 Notice which calls,amongst other things, for the implementation of the Freedom Charter, the banning of Labour Brokers, the scrapping of e-tolling and the scrapping of the National Youth Wage Subsidy.
E. Political attacks directed at COSATU General Secretary and attempts to capture COSATU
The CC received a detailed report from the Numsa National Office Bearers on the Cosatu Central Executive Committee (CEC) of COSATU held from the 25th to the 27th of February 2013. .
The CC condemned in the strongest possible terms the leaking and gross distortion of sensitive COSATU CEC discussions in the media by faceless sources and unnamed union leaders. We view this conduct as cowardly and un-comradely. It has the potential to weaken, divide and distract COSATU from the real, material struggles and challenges faced by the workers and the poor of our country.
We strongly believe that these attempts are not class neutral. They are a continuation of failed attempts during the 11th National Congress last year which sought to capture COSATU and convert it into a conveyor belt for the legitimisation of anti-working class policies that are being pursed in our name as the working class.
Numsa will resist all efforts to divide and destroy Cosatu.
F. The National Development Plan (NDP)
The CC held a frank and robust debate on the National Development Plan (NDP) as endorsed by the 53rd National Conference of the ANC held in Mangaung, as a vision for the country.
The CC noted with great concern that the NDP has been elevated to a status above the Freedom Charter, and appears to have sent into oblivion the RDP.
The CC holds the view that the NDP is embedded in the failed neoliberal economic framework of GEAR as religiously pursued and imposed on the ANC and the democratic government by the 1996 Class Project.
The CC view is that the NDP is a downright neoliberal Plan because:
1. It leaves intact, and protects the power relations of Colonialism of a Special Type in post 1994 South Africa;
2. It is therefore a major right-wing deviation from the Freedom Charter and thus gives further momentum to the derailment of a socialist-oriented NDR;
3. GEAR is indeed a living and growing document; it had 66 pages in 1996; it has now grown to 430 pages in the form of the NDP.
As Numsa we have consistently argued that there are very strong, incontestable similarities and parallels between the NDP and DA policy.
Specifically we have argued that the NDP:
1. Does not provide a plan on how to transform the economy in line with the Freedom Charter objectives, let alone in order to bring about the society and economy it purports we will have 20 or more years from now;
2. Plans to roll-out infrastructure to further reinforce raw mineral export dependence; this is geared towards serving mining capital and not broad-based industrial development;
3. Minimises the role of the state in the economy;
4. Seeks to de-regulate the labour market further and to further weaken working class power;
5. Operates within the neo-liberal macroeconomic framework, and thus offers no hope for fundamental social and economic transformation.
We firmly believe that the NDP will reproduce the same results we have suffered under the current neoliberal economic trajectory – mass poverty, rising unemployment and deepening inequalities, mostly affecting the Black working class, including the marginalised and despondent youth of country.
After a thorough analysis, the CC came to the extremely disturbing conclusion that significant and strategic parts of the NDP were directly lifted from DA policy documents, especially its Chapters on economic restructuring, infrastructure, role of the state, agriculture and rural development.
The fact that the ANC has adopted the NDP, now buries whatever differences existed between it and the DA on matters of socio-economic transformation.
Numsa will soon publish its critique and full comments on the NDP.
G. The 2013 Budget Speech as delivered by the Minister of Finance
The CC held thorough and extensive discussion on the 2013 Budget Speech as delivered by the Minister of Finance Pravin Gordham. The CC welcomes some of the progressive proclamations which underpinned the Budget Speech, particularly the following interventions;
- The review of the tax policy framework in order to ensure that it better supports the objectives of inclusive growth, employment, development and fiscal sustainability;
- The re-formulation of the local government equitable share formula in order to provide a subsidy for free basic services, which will benefit 59 % of households;
- The announcement that R827 billion has been earmarked for the infrastructure programme over the next three years;
In spite of these progressive and detailed pronouncements, however, the fundamental flaw in the Budget is that it uses the NDP as its point of departure. Given the scandalous triple crisis of poverty, unemployment and inequality ravaging our country, we are extremely disappointed that the failed and rejected GEAR and embedded neo-liberal macro-economic policies are once again being hailed, under the façade of the NDP, as the perfect tools for diagnosing and addressing our stark economic challenges. In other words, DA economic policy is the point of departure of the budget speech, and will now serve to inform the Medium-Term Strategic Framework of the ANC-led government.
H. Police Brutality
The CC raised serious concern about the growing usage of excessive force by SA Police Services (SAPS) to quell a number of genuine and legitimate struggles being waged by the working class and the poor, whether they be struggles of workers for a more equitable distribution of wealth at the point of production, or struggles by children of the working class for access to quality public higher education, or struggles against poor service delivery. Time and again we see excessive force - the barrel of the gun - used recklessly to suppress popular dissent. Marikana may now be history, but the underlying theme of brutal State repression of popular struggle lives on. Despite the establishment of the Marikana Commission of Enquiry, and the disturbing stories that are emerging from it, It seems the lessons have not been learned.
The CC was fully conscious of the fact that in a capitalist society, repressive organs of the Sate, such as the police, will always act in the interests of the dominant and ruling class. The increased brutality by the police is a result of not fully implementing the Freedom Charter to change the capitalist character of South African society.
Furthermore, this police brutality reflects low levels of national and class consciousness amongst members of the Police Services. As the great Burkinabe leader and revolutionary martyr comrade Thomas Sankara once said: “A police officer without political education is a potential criminal”. This poses a challenge to our ally – the Police Prisons and Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) - to massify ideological and political education amongst the police services, embarking on a serious recruitment campaign to organise unorganised police workers. This will put POPCRU in the frontline role of transforming our police services as an organ of peoples’ power.
I. Numsa continues to grow towards 400,000 members
The CC was pleased to note that, since last year’s National Congress, our membership has grown from 302,000 to 311,000. The CC also affirmed the target of achieving 400,000 members by Numsa’s 2016 National Congress and took concrete steps to turn that vision into a reality.
J. Scrap metal
The Central Committee was pleased that there seem to be some signs that the DTI is at last taking seriously our longstanding demand for control of the export of scrap metal. Whilst we welcome the preferential pricing system as a way of prioritising South African consumption of scrap metal, we nevertheless reaffirm our view that an outright ban on the export of scrap metal is the only truly effective mechanism to protect South African production and further our objectives of growing industrialisation.
K. Swell the ranks in preparation for the 2014 elections
The Central Committee continued to call on all working class structures and organisations to swell the ranks of the ANC and SACP in the light of the approaching 2014 elections. Numsa believes that the only way to elect the ANC back into government on a revolutionary, working class programme is for active, conscious, working class cadres to join the ANC and to be active in shaping its policies and programmes. We urge all Numsa members to act on this call.
The CC stands 100% behind our members at Medupi. We will continue to support their just struggle until it is victorious. The CC rejected outright the PLA which seeks to take away rights that workers have under the Labour Relations Act. It further rejected the attempt by management to impose disciplinary proceedings on striking workers. Our members must be able to go back to work without any threat of disciplinary measure and with their rights as workers intact. The working class struggled long and hard for those rights. We are not about to bargain them away.
M. Mobilising popular mandate for collective bargaining
This year is a Collective Bargaining year for Numsa members in a number of sectors. Already we have mounted an ‘Ear to the Ground’ campaign to listen to what our members are saying as part of the process of building our mandate for these negotiations. The CC agreed a further process of consolidating the views of workplaces, Locals and Regions towards our National Bargaining Conference which will take place next month. This is the rock on which Numsa is founded and on which it thrives - we put huge resources and effort into our democratic process of collective bargaining. There cannot be an effective collective bargaining process without the active and informed participation of the membership.
N. Campaign for agrarian transformation and land redistribution:
The CC discussed the fact that this year marks 100 years after the passing of the Native Land Act in June 1913. But more worrying for the CC was that despite all the attempts after 1994 to have the 30% of land redistributed, little progress has been achieved. The target of 30% keeps on shifting. First this target was meant to be achieved in 1999, then it moved to 2014 and now we have been told in the State of the Nation Address (SoNA) that it is highly unlikely that the target of 30% will be met by next year. Although President Zuma committed in SoNA to move away from the “willing buyer-willing seller” principle that has characterised the land reform programme post 1994, the CC is not convinced that the land redistribution programme will move rapidly without the amendment of Section 25 of the constitution.
Given the proposals in the NDP of land being distributed through partnership with white commercial farmers and given the NDP’s insistence that land reform “must not upset land markets or business interests in the agricultural sector”, the CC adopted the following programme:
- Symbolic lunchtime factory meetings/demonstrations to press for rapid land redistribution on 19 June 2013; which is the day that the Native Land Act was passed in 1913
- Ongoing education of our members on the land questions
- Work and contribute to the development of Cosatu’s position on the establishment of state-owned food company
- Collaborative work with FAWU to strengthen the organisation of farmworkers
- Ongoing work on the question of food security.
In the light of this, the CC mandate NUMSA NOBs to meet with FAWU leadership to look at how the metalworkers can provide financial and material resources to build and strengthen the organisation of farmworkers.
Issued by Numsa National Office Bearers on behalf of the Central Committee (CC)
Irvin Jim, General Secretary - 073 157 6384