Cape Town – The National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa) believes Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa missed an opportunity to confront neo-liberalism at the World Economic Forum (WEF) this month.
“Whilst the rest of the world is engaging in a different narrative, our government, led by Ramaphosa, has vowed not to deviate from the backwards neo-liberalist policies, which are responsible for entrenching the colonial character of post-1994 South Africa and increasing poverty,” Numsa said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Instead of fighting on behalf of the majority of the people who elected them to power, the ANC government continues to beg for crumbs from the tables of its white imperialist and corporate masters,” it said.
“Ramaphosa’s remarks re-positioned South Africa as the whipping boy of the open capitalist markets.”
Who leads Numsa and what do they stand for:
Numsa is headed by Irvin Jim and is part of a collective of ex-Cosatu unions that are building a new trade union federation with former Cosatu General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.
The union is seeking the nationalisation of mines and banks and wants land to be to be expropriated without compensation and equitably distributed. They are seeking changes to the Constitution to allow this.
Why the assault on Ramaphosa:
As deputy president of the ANC, Ramaphosa stands a chance of being elected to succeed Jacob Zuma as president of the party and country.
But fighting among factions of the party is making that reality uncertain, especially as Zuma allegedly favours his ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to take over the role.
Why Numsa believes Ramaphosa missed his opportunity:
Numsa said there were four reasons why Ramaphosa let down South Africa:
1. Fiscal discipline
“Ramaphosa promised not to deviate from strict fiscal discipline,” Numsa said. “We can expect more austerity measures and social spending will be cut back even further.”
2. Relationship between labour, business and government
“Ramaphosa claims that government has made tremendous progress on strikes and collective bargaining,” said Numsa.
“What he should have said is that the government has waged a war on workers. The former founder of the National Union of Mineworkers is working very hard to undermine workers’ rights by placing a limitation on the right to strike.”
3. National minimum wage
“Ramaphosa was at pains to paint a rosey picture of a happy relationship between government, business and labour,” it said.
“Instead of researching the actual cost of reproduction of a worker, the profitability of various sectors, and then coming up with a fair minimum wage which is applicable to different sectors, government simply thumb sucked the figure of R3 500 per month. The proposed national minimum wage is nothing more than an attempt to appease ratings agencies.”
4. No crisis in SA
“Ramaphosa assured white monopoly capital that South Africa has the best financial services infrastructure in the world which can withstand disasters,” said Numsa.
“What about the unemployment crisis? The financial services sector has been one of the few sectors to benefit from this current crisis, whilst other sectors, especially manufacturing and mining have been hemorrhaging jobs.”