Numsa revolt to shake ANC

2013-12-21 00:00

BOKSBURG — An earthquake shook the local political landscape yesterday when Numsa’s special congress concluded with decisions to make the ANC shudder.

Numsa withdrew its support from the ruling party, demanded that President Jacob Zuma resign immediately and announced a process towards the formation of an alternative political vehicle, which could lead to the formation of a workers’ party.

The union’s 1 200 delegates officially declared dysfunctional the Tripartite Alliance of the ANC, Cosatu and the SACP.

Numsa demanded that Cosatu, to which it is affiliated, withdraw from the alliance.

“The time for looking for an alternative has arrived,” said general secretary Irvin Jim.

Observers said the union’s move could cost the ANC hundreds of thousands of votes (see below).

The proposed political movement for workers should be established by the first quarter of 2015 by the latest. It has been provisionally named the Movement for Socialism.

Jim said the ANC had abandoned the Freedom Charter, which was the basis of the alliance’s existence, and had not kept its election promises or its Polokwane resolutions.

“It has just passed anti-working class law and policies, such as e-tolls, the Employment Tax Incentive Act … instead of banning labour broking,” Jim said.

“There is no guarantee that even if the ANC comes up with a progressive platform for 2014, that manifesto will be implemented.”

He said the alliance was dysfunctional, in crisis, paralysed and dominated by infighting and factionalism.

“The alliance operates only during election periods. It is used to rubber stamp neo-liberal policies of the ANC … It is our experience that the working class is being used by the leader of the alliance as voting fodder.”

He said there was no chance of returning the alliance to what it was originally formed for — to drive a revolutionary programme for fundamental transformation of the country.

“The SACP leadership has become embedded in the state and is failing to act as the vanguard of the working class.”

Jim said the SACP had been absent in mass struggle and had become an apologist for the government.

On the call for Zuma’s resignation, Jim said, “As a country, we have a recent experience where the former president [Thabo Mbeki] was recalled for pursuing neo-liberal policies. The Zuma administration not only pursued neo-liberalism, but it is characterised by scandals, nepotism, and patronage.”

He named the Gupta landing scandal and the involvement of Zuma family members in numerous business transactions.

Numsa’s final congress statement followed up on the theme, “There is also a lack of transparency and attempts to conceal the workings of the state from the public. An example is the passage of the so-called protection of information bill.

“Since the allegations about the use of public money at his house, there have been several attempts to hide the truth, including the classification of the Nkandla report, as well as the use of apartheid laws like the National Key Points Act.

“Numsa demands that all the facts about Nkandla be put on the table.”

The union also resolved to expand its scope of operation to include security, transport, catering, and health services.

“Over time we should move from organising along industrial or sector lines, [and] organise along value chains.”

He said Numsa, which claimed 338 000 members, would intensify its recruitment drive.

“Numsa is not poaching members from other unions. Workers are coming to Numsa on their own accord. It is difficult to turn away workers who want to voluntarily join Numsa, particularly if we do turn them away, they are likely to go and join non-Cosatu unions.”

It is set to place pressure on Cosatu in the coming months to hold a special congress and reinstate its suspended secretary-general, Zwelinzima Vavi, or for the current leadership to kick Numsa out of the federation.

Numsa is set to withhold its membership fee of R900 000 a month until Vavi is back in office.

The proposed new political vehicle will be launched in co-operation with other unions and socialist organisations, with an eye towards forming a socialist party that can participate in elections.

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