Vavi warns socialists behind strike wave

2012-10-20 18:59

Democratic Socialist Movement is forming a workers’ political party based on strike anger.

The organisation coordinating strikes across South Africa’s mining sector, the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), is preparing to form a political party.

The organisation, run by a five-member executive committee, is building what one of its leaders calls a “mass workers’ party”.

And if its work in the past few months has been part of its preparations to hit the campaign trail, the organisation seems to be gaining ground.

DSM executive committee member Thamsanqa Dumezweni told City Press it has been trying to build a new party since 2002.

The fledgling party has been described as a Trotskyist (far-left) political party affiliated to the Committee for a Workers’ International, an international association of Trotskyist political parties.

“It hasn’t been easy,” the 72-year-old former exile, Dumezweni, admitted.

But he said things are changing now that “communities across the country are realising the ANC and its government won’t fix anything”.

The DSM is yet to register itself with the Independent Electoral Commission.

Yesterday, union federation Cosatu’s general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi slammed the DSM, accusing it of wanting to keep workers on unprotected strikes.

“But there will be consequences they won’t be able to deal with,” he said at a Cosatu press conference in Joburg.

For the DSM to encourage the strikes was a “dangerous” and “suicidal” political strategy, Vavi warned.

He also said employers were taking advantage of the wildcat strikes as an excuse to fire workers in droves because of the pressures presented by the global financial crisis.

“This DSM won’t be there to pick up the pieces. In essence, this party wants to lead workers into a ditch to gain ascendancy,” he said.

He also blamed the stoning of his car in Orkney on Friday on the socialist organisation, which he claimed had orchestrated the plan to disrupt his feedback to strikers there.

Other DSM executive committee members include the firebrand University of Limpopo graduate Mametlwe Sebei, Shirley Hamilton, Liv Shange and Weizmann Hamilton, a senior official in Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane’s office.

Dumezweni, a lifelong activist, said he left the country in 1968 as a member of the Unity Movement (UM) following his expulsion from Sigcau High School in his Eastern Cape hometown, Flagstaff.

“We demand change. The ANC is a party of rogues,” Dumezweni said.

He said workers must build political parties and trade unions they will control.

Dumezweni believes the massacre of 34 striking Lonmin mine workers by police has changed the outlook and attitude of poor people in South Africa.

Earlier in the week, Sebei ­addressed striking AngloGold Ashanti workers in Carletonville, where he told hundreds of miners that a new government was needed.

Sebei said the new government would nationalise mines, banks and land.

“We have drawn a line in the sand. We’re building a socialist alternative,” he told AngloGold Ashanti workers.

The DSM denied it was unrealistically raising expectations among the country’s mine workers.

“It’s not us, it’s the workers themselves who know what they produce,” said DSM executive committee member Shange at the AngloGold Ashanti strike.

The DSM, which has an office in downtown Johannesburg, has representatives in Cape Town, Durban and Rustenburg.

The DSM executive committee meets every week at its Joburg headquarters.

Sebei said South African youth were in a permanent state of protest, and needed a mass political alternative.

“Established unions have betrayed workers. One million jobs were lost in 2009 without the unions lifting a finger,” said Sebei.

DSM leaders believe the real battle in the country is between capitalists – including the ANC and other political parties – and workers.

“Workers only have their heads and hands, which they sell. This is a revolution against capitalism,” Dumezweni said.

Vavi said yesterday the DSM was going ahead and building strike committees in a bid to sideline the National Union of Mineworkers.

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