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NUMSA’s Political Perspectives on the Crisis of Leadership in the ANC and SA

D 14 mai 2016     H 05:35     A NUMSA     C 0 messages

“Demanding Zuma must fall without adding that neoliberal monopoly capitalism must fall and that the Freedom Charter and Socialism Must Rise is just class suicide, with nothing that the working class can gain at the moment.”
(Karl Cloete, NUMSA Deputy General Secretary, December 2015)
NUMSA 20 April 2016

A. Corruption in South Africa and the role of the ANC and its alliance

1. By December 2013, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) completely wrote off the ANC and its alliance formations as having any capacity to complete the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) and therefore transform South Africa in the interest of the majority – who are the black and African working class, and the rural poor - and through this, for the entire country.

2. As is our internal democratic tradition and culture, after exhaustive internal nationwide shopfloor discussions, a Special National Congress (SNC) was called in December 2013.

3. Prominent among the Resolutions passed by our Special National Congress in December 2013 was the Resolution on the demand for Jacob Zuma to resign, and we quote it in full :

“1. There are allegations that taxpayers’ money has been inappropriately used to build a home costing more than R200-million for the President of the Republic of South Africa.

2. This alleged use of the taxpayers’ money takes place in the sea of poverty in our country.

3. When asked in Parliament in 2012, the President told the whole nation that development of his house was from his family’s own pockets.

4. Since the allegations on use of taxpayers’ money for renovations of the President’s home, there have been concerted attempts to squash the truth about the expenditure including the classification of the Inter-Ministerial Report on Nkandla, the use of the notorious and apartheid style legislation such as the National Key Points Act of 1980 as well as the attempt by the Security Cluster Ministers to interdict the Public Protector.

5. NUMSA’s National Executive Committee (NEC) had called on all facts on Nkandla to be put on the table and in public.

6. President Zuma’s administration has been marked by one scandal after the other if one considers the landing of the Guptas Group from India in a National Key Point which posed security risks for the country and the presence of the President’s family in business deals.

7. President Zuma’s administration continues to be characterized by lack of transparency and attempts to hide the workings of the state from the Public. An example of this lack of transparency is the passing of the so-called Protection of Information Bill or Secrecy Bill.

8. President Zuma’s reign has seen the continuation of neo-liberalism through policies such as the National Development Plan (NDP), the Employment Tax Incentive Bill, Youth Wage Subsidy, Labour brokers and E-tolls.

9. As a country, we have a recent experience where former State President Thabo Mbeki was recalled for pursuing neo-liberal policies.
Believing that :

1. It was correct that the NUMSA President in his opening remarks raised the question of whether should it not be appropriate to agitate for the recall of the State President if the final report of the Public Protector proves that taxpayers’ money was used inappropriately.

2. Reasons for the recall of the former president Thabo Mbeki was based on the neoliberal policies of his government.

3. The Zuma administration not only pursues neo-liberalism but it is characterized by scandals, nepotism and patronage.

4. The Public Protector’s report has the potential to destroy the image of the State President and send a negative image about this country.

5. Any State president should lead by example and the ethics and leadership style demonstrated by our late icon the late President Mandela.
Congress therefore resolved that :

1. As this Special National Congress (SNC) we endorse the question raised by the NUMSA President of whether should we not call for the resignation of President Jacob Zuma if all evidence shows that in the renovations, taxpayers’ money was used inappropriately.

2. As this SNC, we feel that the question by the NUMSA President was pertinent and appropriate. The NUMSA President showed leadership.

3. The SNC condemns all the attempts that tried to block the truth on Nkandla such as the classification of the report by Minister of Public Works Thulas Nxesi as well as the interdict of the Public Protector by the Security Cluster Ministers.

4. This SNC calls on President Jacob Zuma to resign with immediate effect because of his administration’s 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.”

4. In making this demand, NUMSA was neither driven by base negative racist emotions or hatred towards Jacob Zuma, nor was this a populist demand ! We were very clear that Zuma had failed the test for the reasons we had supported him in the first place : to end the pursuit of neo-liberal policies such as the NDP, e-tolls, labour brokers, youth wage subsidy, corruption, patronage and nepotism.

5. Our tactical support for Jacob Zuma had never been premised on anything else other than the hope that after removing Thabo Mbeki and his “1996 Class Project comrades” from office, Jacob Zuma would lead the ANC and government to fight to end the pursuit of neo-liberal policies, corruption, patronage and nepotism – all which were very well established both before and during the Mandela and Mbeki reigns !

6. By 2012, it was very clear to us that both the post-Apartheid South African neoliberal constitutional dispensation and the capitalist order which the negotiated settlement had bequeathed South Africa had failed, disastrously, for the majority of South Africans – who by and large are black and African, and working class.

7. For the record, we make no apologies for supporting Zuma back then, in the context of the ANC Youth League, the SACP and COSATU left wing coalition that had emerged to push for a serious leftward shift of the ANC and its alliance. That moment was historic and pregnant with the possibilities of a genuine pro-working class ANC alliance and government emerging. We took the chance, and we lost. In 2013, we corrected ourselves !

8. Three years after our SNC, today, there are fresh nationwide demands for Zuma to resign or be recalled by the ANC. Again, unapologetically, we fully support these calls, and we are very proud that our initial demand in 2013 has been vindicated and that the NUMSA United Front and some of its members of the National Working Committee are fully involved in these campaigns.

9. We, therefore, take great exception to any quarters suggesting that NUMSA and its current leadership are “standing outside” the mass demands and campaigns for Zuma to go. We have a standing resolution for Zuma to go, for the end of the pursuit of neo-liberal policies, corruption, patronage and nepotism. Besides the radical implementation of the Freedom Charter, our NUMSA United Front was created specifically for such struggles.

10. In our December SNC we also fully acknowledged that the SACP was no longer a force for socialism and that time had come for the working class to create for themselves a political organ committed both in theory and practice to socialism. This work is well underway.

11. We also affirmed that NUMSA will remain what it is : a Marxist-Leninist inspired revolutionary trade union.

12. We find it very strange, therefore, that after our more than 30 years of revolutionary political experience working in multi-class alliances, and after our decision to abandon the ANC and its alliance, having formed a United Front, and now working on a revolutionary socialist political organ, there are voices demanding that NUMSA as a union lend its open support to every protest, no matter what class and racial interests are driving such protests. This is so opportunistic and populist it does not deserve our attention !

13. We firmly stand by what we said in December 2015, over the demands for Zuma to go. Our position was very well captured by both the official statement Comrade Irvin Jim, NUMSA General Secretary issued then, and by our Deputy General Secretary Comrade Karl Cloete, who said :

“Demanding Zuma must fall without adding that neoliberal monopoly capitalism must fall and that the Freedom Charter and Socialism Must Rise is just class suicide, with nothing that the working class can gain at the moment.”

B. Post 1994 South African Constitutionalism and the death of the ANC and its alliance

1. The South African post 1994 “Constitutional Order” and its “Constitutional democracy” and all state and government institutions – including Parliament - are founded on the basis of preserving the South African inherited racist and colonial capitalist system and its property rights. The “Negotiated Settlement” delivered this result, as the cornerstone of the “Contract” between the ANC and its allied formations, and the white economic and social block.

2. Therefore, the decision that “post-Apartheid South Africa” must be a “Constitutional democracy” in which the Constitution, and not the people, were sovereign, was and remains, the most pronounced expression of the victory and continuing power of white monopoly capital and its white population over the popular masses, who are by and large Black and African !

3. We the Black and African working class are not fooled by the loud noises being made currently about “defending our Constitution” – We are fully aware that at the heart of this Constitution and all the institutions, systems, structures and behaviours it gives birth to including Parliament is the protection of the South African racist and colonial economy !

4. Twenty two years after 27 April 1994, mass unemployment, poverty and extreme inequalities are the daily experiences of the majority of the Black and African working class, both in the urban and rural towns and cities of South Africa. To be white, however, is to be largely economically privileged, culturally dominant, better educated, living in modern houses, most likely owning land, and generally living the life !

5. Twenty two years after April 1994, the land question remains completely unresolved. All genuine anti-colonial liberation struggles are about restoring land justice. Without this restoration, the struggles continues, of the colonised peoples.

6. The ANC, COSATU and SACP perennially lament the continuing systemic and structural features of South African Apartheid economy and society, notwithstanding the well intentioned reforms thus far implemented. Today, white supremacism and its racism are more pronounced than ever – a clear reminder that the average life of a Black and African person is no better than that of a dog in a white home.

7. Thus, for example, since 1994, white wealth has increased and black and African poverty has deepened, notwithstanding some of the reformist work the ANC has done to address poverty and access to basic social services.

8. In fact, the emerging post 1994 picture of South Africa is one in which for every improvement in the lives of black and African people, a corresponding increase in the wealth of white people can easily be measured, thus entrenching white monopoly of wealth and society in South Africa. This is the basic trap post 1994 South Africa finds itself in. This is the reality which South African post 1994 “Constitutional democracy” defends and entrenches.

C. What, then, are the underlying class struggles and dynamics which are causing the noises and violence we are suffering from right now ?

1. Capitalism is always a crisis for the working class. They are reduced to a commodity – labour – for hire at a wage always lower than the full value they produce for the capitalist. The capitalist expropriates, steals, a portion of the produce of the labourers. It is this portion of stolen value from workers which, among other things, capitalists convert into profits. The entire system of capitalism is based on this theft of the value produced by the labour of the working class ! The capitalist system is inherently corrupt.

2. The working class, therefore, correctly know and experience capitalism as thievery of their labour and what it produces. Capitalists, all of them, without exception, are thieves ! Capitalism is corruption and theft.

3. NUMSA takes very seriously all the views expressed on the post 1994 South African constitutional order in reference to the current and ongoing saga around Zuma.

4. In 2012, in his response to the 2012 ANC Policy Discussion Documents Mr FW de Klerk – the man who presided over the construction of the post 1994 “Constitutional Democracy” opens his response to the ANC Policy Documents by saying :

“Eighteen years ago we South Africans reached agreement on the kind of country we wanted to become. After three years of difficult negotiations we agreed that we wanted a society in which the Constitution - and not the majority of the day - would be sovereign. We agreed that that Constitution should make full provision for the protection of all our fundamental rights ; that we would have free and independent courts ; and that we would establish a truly democratic system of government subject to the rule of law.”

5. Mr De Klerk’s response to the 2012 ANC Discussion Documents is the best defence of the notion of post 1994 South Africa as a country in which the Constitution, rather than the majority, would be sovereign.

6. De Klerk said in 1994 South Africans agreed that they wanted a society in which the Constitution - and not the majority of the day - would be sovereign. As far as De Klerk is concerned, and we must assume this is the view of the white complex (South African white society and its economy), the ANC in their Policy Documents were threatening then to abandon this fundamental constitutional consensus upon which the 1994 “democratic breakthrough” was founded.

7. FW de Klerk said then that the sovereignty of the Constitution included Constitutional guarantees for the protection of languages, cultures and private property. But the majority of the population had no “private property” they are Black and African working class !

8. The new Constitution ensured that there was “....full provision for the protection of all our fundamental rights ; that we would have free and independent courts ; and that we would establish a truly democratic system of government subject to the rule of law.”

9. Why did the National Party and White Monopoly Capital, by 1994, agree to move to a “Constitutional Democracy” in South Africa ? De Klerk informed us about the reasons :

“The National Party did not agree to the transition naively or with its eyes closed to the ideological nature of the tripartite alliance. It realised full well that the ANC might one day reconsider its solemn undertakings. However, it believed that in addition to the guarantees that we had negotiated into the constitution there were other powerful forces that would help to ensure that all parties would honour our accord :
 • the collapse of the Soviet Union had swept the ideological ground from under the feet of communists all over the world ;
 • a new global consensus had developed on the fundamentals of democratic governance and responsible fiscal and economic policy. In our globalising world, no government could afford to ignore these new international norms ;
 • we also hoped that as the ANC became used to the complexities of government it would quietly abandon its outmoded ideologies ;
 • finally, we realised that just as we could not govern the country against the will of the majority, a majority government would not be able to rule effectively if it violated the fundamental rights of our minorities. Our symbiotic relationship dictated that whether we liked it or not we would have to work together to achieve success.”

10. Communism is dead with the end of the Soviet Union. There is a new global consensus on the fundamentals of democracy. The ANC in government would abandon its outmoded ideologies. A majority government would not be able to rule effectively if it violated the fundamental rights of minorities. De Klerk very ably articulated the reasons why the majority were defeated, and the White Complex won !

11. All sensible South Africans and normal people all over the world, irrespective of their class location, are outraged by the excesses and corruption of the ANC government in general and Zuma in particular.

12. What is weird, however, is the shrill sound of all sorts of voices including those who should know better, who are trumpeting the need for all South Africans irrespective of their class to “defend our Constitutional democracy”.

13. Thabo Mbeki, that erstwhile pseudo-intellectual expert “talk left and run to the right all the time” sell-out has even gone as far as charging that it is “counter revolutionary” not to fully and at all material times, implement the spirit and letter of the Constitution. He, the real counter revolutionary, says overthrowing the old order he defended is “counter revolutionary” – what the cheek !

14. Not to be outdone, the National Spokesperson of the EFF says that the Constitution gives South Africans their identity, and violating it therefore destroys the identity of South Africans and paves way for anarchy and chaos to reign ! Holy Mother of Lenin, this is the Man from the party that wants to confiscate land without compensation !

15. Some of those who participated in the negotiations, through their foundations, have now called for a national dialogue on what is happening in South Africa, and how best to defend the “Constitutional order” !

16. What is clear today, 22 years after the 1994 “democratic breakthrough” is that the South African capitalist system – all of it and its imperialist backers - and its ANC government are both in serious systemic and structural crisis, and neither of them have answers to the massive economic, social and political challenges the country is facing. These challenges can only be solved by a socialist revolution.

17. The middle strata (largely white but with a sprinkling of a parasitic Black and African layer) are very threatened by the continuing growing threats to their precarious economic and social position, should the crises not be resolved soon enough.

18. As for the white capitalist class, it is facing the potential of its “negotiated settlement” unravelling – and therefore the loss of their economic and political power - because of both the worsening global and national capitalist crisis and the accompanying massive social crises and its corruption.

19. The working class, on the other hand, is everyday seeing its ranks swelling with unemployed workers and its condition of life deteriorating.

20. Zuma has, through his well-publicised ill-behaviour, correctly positioned himself as the potential fall guy for the capitalist system. If only he could be removed, and a better capitalist installed, the capitalist class would be best able to conceal their looting of the working class and South Africa’s resources, and continue to pretend that the working class must continue to wait for the growth of their profits for any improvements in their lives. Meanwhile, the working class should be happy to enjoy the hollow democratic freedoms 1994 gave them.

21. Again, Mr De Klerk best reminded us all, in 2012, what violating the Constitution would mean, and his words are a good echo of Maimane, Thabo Mbeki, the EFF and most others calling for defence of the Constitution on behalf of the vested economic and social interests of South African capitalism. De Klerk said, in 2012, to the ANC :

“Any move to abandon the solemn national consensus that we reached during the constitutional negotiations would destroy irreparably the brave foundations for national unity, democracy and transformation that we have developed since 1994. It would slash open once again the divisions of the past and divide the country along racial lines. Once the powers of independent courts have been sufficiently diluted - it would end the prospect of a society based on democratic values and fundamental human rights.”

D. NUMSA’s views on the current goings on in South Africa and our demands

1. We are a socialist trade union inspired by Marxism-Leninism. We demand that our views be respected. We are, unashamedly, a Socialist revolutionary trade union.

2. We reject with the contempt it deserves the understanding that in 1994 South Africans, all South Africans of all classes, surrendered their struggle for sovereignty to the compromise liberal capitalist Constitution which ushered in the newly repackaged but old racist and colonial capitalist “constitutional democratic order”. Only a fool would think that a compromise is a permanent solution.

3. Our rejection of such an absurd idea (absolute and permanent Constitutional sovereignty) is based on the understanding that the working class, as a class in and for itself, irrespective of their colour and cultural backgrounds, cannot abandon the possibility of a civilisation not based on their exploitation by capitalists.

4. To the contrary, the historic vocation and mission of the world’s working class is to abolish the system of organisation of society on the basis of the exploitation of the labour of the working class, such as the 1994 South African Constitution entrenches.

5. In the past 22 years, it is precisely this ruthless Constitutional defence of white monopoly capital and the inherited English and Apartheid white social and cultural privileges (the South African White Complex) which has ensured that mass poverty, dangerous levels of unemployment and extreme inequalities are largely Black and predominantly African female and African youth.

6. In the past 22 years, it is precisely this ruthless Constitutional defence of white monopoly capital and the inherited English and Apartheid white social and cultural privilege (the South African White Complex) which has ensured that monopoly of economic power, monopoly of social and cultural resources remain exclusively white with a slow gradual sprinkling of Black and African people.

7. We the working class have no illusions about the post 1994 South Africa. It is a racist capitalist country with the world’s most extreme levels and forms of inequality, the majority of its people live in poverty and are afflicted by a carefully constructed backwardness by the White Complex, its wealth and society is dominated by the White Complex. This is the daily lived experience of our so called “Constitutional democracy” for the majority of the working class !

8. To assume that the Black and African working class, who everyday suffer the effects of mass poverty, unemployment and inequality, as a direct consequence of the systemic and structural dominance in the economy and society of South Africa by the White Complex, who are the majority of this country, can permanently be expected to stay in that situation is to suffer from a very dangerous pathology – the pathology of white capitalist supremacism, which unfortunately is the economic and social order the post 1994 South African Constitution entrenches.

9. In 1969, when the ANC respected revolutionary theory, correctly said the following about the struggle for liberation in South Africa :

“In our country - more than in any other part of the oppressed world - it is inconceivable for liberation to have meaning without a return of the wealth of the land to the people as a whole. It is therefore a fundamental feature of our strategy that victory must embrace more than formal political democracy. To allow the existing economic forces to retain their interests intact is to feed the root of racial supremacy and does not represent even the shadow of liberation.”

10. The illusion that the majority of the working class in this country who are Black and African must wait for real relief and salvation from their position at the bottom of the South African food chain for some more growth in the profits and well-being of the White Complex and its Black and African sprinkling, is just that – an illusion.

11. We fought for a popular (and not minority) democratic dispensation precisely because we recognised this as the most viable form of organising our society in order to eliminate mass poverty, unemployment and inequality. The current Constitutional Order protects and entrenches minority property rights.

12. If the Constitutional order of 1994 is proving incapable, after 22 years, of making any meaningful dent in the real cleavages in South African society (racialised mass poverty, unemployment and inequalities), then it is time to question the value of the Constitution to the majority of South Africans, who are the impoverished working class !

13. We are not intimidated by the fears of the South African white complex (represented by the DA, politically) and of the South Africa middle class of all races and their organisations, including the SACP. We reserve the right to express our working class views on the Constitution and its “constitutional democratic order” and to advance our own class views and interests.

14. We demand the immediate and full implementation of the provisions of the Freedom Charter, as a preliquisite to addressing the national question. To do this, of course, will be a violation of the current South African Constitution because it would entail expropriating the expropriators !

15. We call upon the South African working class, all of it, to join us as we struggle to unite the working class and working class communities in our United Front. This is now an urgent demand !

16. We call upon all unionised and un-unionised workers to join us in our efforts to create a giant, militant, worker controlled, democratic and accountable national trade union federation of the working class.

17. We have no illusions that giving birth to a socialist revolutionary political party of the working class will be easy, and a one day affair ! We call upon all South African workers to remove the blinkers from their eyes and see that the miseries, unemployment, inequalities, poverty, corruption and everything else are a direct product of capitalism. Join us, as we forge ahead to create our political party.

18. We as NUMSA, will advance these views in the forthcoming Workers Summit, and a transitional programme, during the May Day Celebration.

19. So yes, Zuma must go. We said so in December 2013. But Zuma is the CEO of South African corrupt racist and colonial capitalism. We are ready to march with anyone and any group, that will also simultaneously make with us the demand that neoliberal monopoly capitalism must fall and that the Freedom Charter and Socialism Must Rise !

Irvin Jim,
NUMSA General Secretary,
April 2016.