Worker Party to be launched

By Drum Digital
11 March 2013

A new political party, the Workers' and Socialist Party (Wasp), will be launched later this month.

"We [are] trying to build it as a party that can provide a political platform to unite the struggles of the working class people, not just in the mines but all industries," spokesman Mametlwe Sebei said on Monday.

Sebei said the party intended contesting the 2014 elections.

The party would register with the Independent Electoral Commission this week and would be formally launched on March 21 in Pretoria.

Sebei said mineworkers, who were part of the national strike committee during last year's mining industry unrest, were backing Wasp.

Mineworkers in the Northern Cape, North West, Limpopo, and Gauteng gave their unanimous backing to Wasp at a meeting in Rustenburg on Sunday, he said.

"This is of huge significance. The launch of Wasp was initiated by a number of different shaft-based strike committees, but this weekend, the rank-and-file leaders of the mineworkers nationwide have come out in support of Wasp," Sebei said.

"Behind these delegates are hundreds of thousands of mineworkers and millions if you include their families and communities."

It was not clear who would lead Wasp, however. Sebei said the party would hold a meeting after its launch where it would elect its leaders.

He said Wasp wanted to stop the job losses and help create more jobs. It would also call for nationalisation of the mines under a democratically controlled economy.

According to Wasp's website, it was founded by workers' strike committees from KDC West, Anglo Gold Ashanti, Bokoni Platinum, Harmony Gold, out of work miners at Royal Bafokeng Platinum Rasimone and Murray and Roberts Kroondal, and the Democratic Socialist Movement.

Elias Juba, chairman of the mineworkers' national strike committee, said the lack of political representation of the working class and poor needed to be tackled.

"Marikana showed that we, the working class, have been abandoned by the ANC," he said.

"The ANC is more interested in protecting the profits of the mine bosses at the expense of the living standards of the mineworkers, their families, and communities."

Juba said the launch of a political party was the obvious next step.

-by Sapa

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