SACP rejoices at Cosatu’s funeral

2014-11-18 06:45

Last Friday marked the 97th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, the day when an uprising of Russian workers and leftist activists led to the establishment of the world’s first socialist republic.

Inspired by the Marxist slogan “Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains”, their actions inspired revolutions all over Europe and other parts of the world in the following decades.

In South Africa, the anniversary was marked by the rupture of the organisation that was established to unite the country’s workers and ensure that they were rid of their chains.

Union bosses sat in a boardroom at Cosatu headquarters and set in motion a process that will paralyse worker unity forever. For that is the ultimate consequence of the expulsion of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) from Cosatu.

While the reaction to Numsa’s expulsion was not one of shock or surprise, it was generally one of sadness. The ANC described it as a tragic development that would weaken the union.

Others expressed concern that a fractured Cosatu spelt disaster for workers’ rights. Economists and other experts warned of increased instability as splintering union factions vied for shop floor supremacy.

The only entity that seemed to greet the development with glee was the SA Communist Party (SACP), an organisation whose seeds were planted in the fertile climate of the 1917 revolution.

In the aftermath of the expulsion, the SACP issued a triumphant and vindictive statement that piled the blame on Numsa. It said Cosatu’s central executive committee “was left with no option but to take the drastic but unpleasant step of expelling Numsa from its ranks”.

It went on to accuse Numsa of deliberately courting expulsion and manufacturing victimhood.

“This was not a case of an externally manipulated witch-hunt, but a case of self-expulsion ... In soccer terms, we have had a case of repetitive diving in the box.”

The SACP, signalling that it believed this was a welcome development, indicated that there would now be an opportunity to rebuild “a reinvigorated and militant Cosatu”.

As odd as this sounds, it should come as no surprise that the party purporting to be the vanguard of the working class should rejoice on hearing news of the collapse of the country’s largest trade union federation.

The SACP – and particularly its general secretary, Blade Nzimande – has been instrumental in sowing and fanning discord in Cosatu’s ranks.

In the years since the elevation of Jacob Zuma to the top – a project driven by Cosatu and the SACP – the role of the communists has been to be his protectors and cheerleaders.

This is a role Nzimande has rammed down the throats of party leaders and activists, and sought to impose on Cosatu. He found a few takers in Cosatu’s upper ranks, but also found much resistance.

The role the SACP carved out for itself, and which it wanted Cosatu to follow, was one of compliance to the ANC. In the SACP’s perspective, Zuma was the best thing to have happened to the human race. He was to be worshipped and wrapped in thick woollen blankets.

This role has rendered the SACP useless and irrelevant to South Africa’s political scene.

It has also made the SACP the only socialist movement since the Bolshevik Revolution to openly support corruption.

This is evident in its embrace of Zuma’s corruptible ways, its willingness to allow the country’s presidency to be owned by the most venal capitalists in the land and in its attacks on those who seek to hold the head of state to account.

Witness the comments of the SACP’s second deputy general secretary, Solly Mapaila, when he declared that the media and those who questioned the R246?million spent on Zuma’s Nkandla compound were great liars, in the mould of Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.

Speaking in January at the grave of Joe Slovo, a great and honest communist, Mapaila said South Africans had been “fed many lies by the media” and President Zuma needed to be protected from those who were scandalised by the Nkandla outrage.

“Why are some constantly targeting President Zuma for a wrong he never committed? From a narrow point of view, the issue could seem to be President Zuma, but broadly, the main target is our movement as led by the ANC.

We must firmly stand our ground in defence of our movement,” boomed Mapaila as Slovo’s bones rattled in anger that a tribute to him could be used to legitimise this sickening abuse of public funds.

The SACP’s approval of corruption and the hunger for individual power by those in its upper echelons are the reason the party has been AWOL when it has been called upon to be the vanguard of the working class – especially at key moments, such as the mining industry turmoil and the outbreaks of service-delivery protests.

These are the reasons the party was instrumental in the destruction of Cosatu – one of the world’s most respected trade union movements – on the very day that workers should have been celebrating a working class milestone.

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