NUMSA congress declaration: 100 points

Union says corruption can only be dealt with by replacing rotten capitalist system with socialism


12 – 15 DECEMBER 2016



Building Strong, Vibrant and Politically Conscious Workplaces!

1. Numsa’s 10th National Congress, held from 12-15 December 2016, was attended by 1063 voting delegates, representing 340,687 members of the biggest trade union in the African continent.

2. The Numsa Workers’ Parliament paid its respects to the memory of Comrade Fidel Castro, one of the greatest Marxist-Leninist revolutionary leaders of all time, and agreed that we should seek ways to take forward his life’s work.

3. Delegates analysed the crisis facing workers around the world and the special South African crisis of rocketing unemployment, deepening poverty affecting especially millions of the black and African working class and the highest level of inequality in the world.

4. Delegates affirmed the historic decision of the 2013 Special National Congress to end Numsa’s support for the African National Congress, build a new independent, democratic workers’ federation, a United Front and a revolutionary socialist party.

5. Events over the past three years have confirmed the correctness of our Marxist-Leninist analysis of the crisis in the ANC and its alliance and fully vindicated our Special National Congress Resolutions. The ANC and its alliance are in a terminal crisis. Numsa will move with speed to implement, fully, all the SNC Resolutions.

International socio-economic crisis

6. The world capitalist system remains mired in a deep, long-term structural crisis, which is causing mass poverty, widespread unemployment, extreme inequality and environmental destruction. 

7. It is an economy dominated by money capital to which all other forms of economic activity - agricultural, industry, energy, construction and telecommunications - are subordinate.

8. The workplace has not escaped this mania for money. Workplace restructuring, retrenchments, short-time, casualization, short contracts, labour brokering, precarious work and a large growing army of the unemployed are features of the world today as capitalists compete to make money by cutting costs and using the latest technologies.

9. What is now being called the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” is creating even higher unemployment as machines and computer software efficiently perform tasks that workers used to do. But machines cannot consume what they produce. As production rises and jobs dwindle, supply rises and demand falls, leading to an inevitable crisis of over-production which the system can only self-correct by massive destruction of existing production capacity, debt and retrenchments. 

10. In the deliberately impoverished neo-colonies in Africa, Asia and Latin America this means more and worse misery, oppression, hunger and exploitation for the working class and the rural poor, often leading to popular protests, while in the advanced countries themselves we see the rise of extreme right wing anti-immigration, xenophobic and racist politics.

11. Congress declares that with the internet and all other technologies which can connect the world working class into a global fighting force to defeat global capitalism which is threatening not only human life but the entirety of our universe, there have never been better conditions for the success of the global Socialist Revolution than now.

12. We shall strive to unite and work with left forces anywhere in the world and independently approach left and Marxist forces, including those who are traditional ANC allies, to explain our positions and our presence in global unions to spread the ideas of socialism.

13. Congress demands that the Argentine government immediately and unconditionally releases Milagros Sala, an indigenous leader with great support. She is leader of the Tupac Amara neighbourhood association, part of the Association of State Workers of Jujuy, and a leading figure in the Movimiento Piquetero of Argentina. Sala, a political prisoner, has been in jail for almost a year because of opposing the neoliberal policies implemented by Macri's administration. The UN has already declared her detention illegal.

14. We condemn in the strongest terms the harassment of the independent media in Zambia, in particular, the illegal closure of the Zambian Post.

15. We also pledge our solidarity with popular movements, students, peasants, workers in Brazil and condemn the illegal coup against President Dilma Rouseff, the criminalization of social movements the political persecution of Lula, former president of Brazil.

16. We condemn the racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-immigrants and similar beliefs of the newly elected president of the United States – Donald Trump.

17. We condemn the imperialist-promoted wars in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, Somali, Nigeria, Uganda, the Central African Republic and elsewhere whose main victims are the working class, their children and the rural poor!

18. In South Africa, the origins of the South African colonial and racist capitalist economy and society lie in imperialism, which financed and provided the military means to establish the racist, patriarchal and capitalist country.

19. To increase its profits, the South African capitalists relied on racial division of labour enforced by a battery of racist laws. From its origins to the present, racial domination of black people in general and Africans in particular has been maintained under changing conditions and by various means, but it has always been the backbone of South African capitalism. Even after 1994, in all essential respects, the colonial status of the black majority has remained in place, 22 years into our democracy:

a) In 2008, 62% of all promotions and recruitments to top management positions were drawn from the white population, which is 12% of the total population.

b) Whites make up 75% of all top management positions in the economy and they continue to promote each other.

c) Strategic mines remain privately-owned and foreign-owned.

d) The financial sector accounts for 22% of South Africa’s GDP and is dominated by four banks, two of which have significant foreign ownership.

e) The wholesale and retail sector makes up 14% of South African GDP and also has significant foreign-ownership, Massmart is 60% foreign-owned, Shoprite is 35%, Truworths is 50%, Foschini is 40%, JD Group is 40%, and Lewis is 30%.

f) Only 10% of the 30% land earmarked for land restitution has been transferred to black farmers, yet the target date for the 30% was 2014.

g) Access to housing, education and health all are racially determined, with black Africans condemned to the worst services.

We in NUMSA, therefore, still describe post 1994 South Africa as a racist colonial economy and society.

20. We condemn the racist white monopoly capitalist system in South Africa for responding to this latest crisis of capitalism by intensifying the super-exploitation of black and African labour.

21. Congress resolved to fight for more protection for local production, the radical transformation of the economy, land expropriation without compensation, nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy and food security for the downtrodden in our country. 

22. Congress agreed to call for a referendum on the land question and food security.

23. Marxism-Leninism is a powerful revolutionary weapon for the working and oppressed people in their struggles for emancipation, liberation, and the building of a new world – a socialist world free of exploitation. We are determined to defend Marxism-Leninism.


24. Numsa has consistently fought against corruption. At our 2013 Special National Congress, we were the first to raise the demand for President Zuma to resign, because, as our resolution said, “President Zuma’s administration has been marked by one scandal after the other,” including “pursuit of neo-liberal policies such as the NDP, e-tolls, labour brokers, youth wage subsidy; and the track record of his administration which is steeped in corruption, patronage and nepotism.”

25. Delegates not only reaffirmed that resolution but insisted that Zuma must face the 783 corruption charges, and be jailed, if found guilty.

26. Numsa has always rejected the view that corruption is just a problem within the public service, or confined to a small circle of political leaders and a few ‘rogue’ capitalists like the Gupta family. In the public sector it is invariably a result of collusion between public officials and companies in the private sector, which are just as steeped in corrupt and illegal practices.

27. Hundreds of billions of rands are leaving the country as capitalists put their cash where they will make the quickest and biggest profits, with no regard for the welfare of the national economy, our people, our environment and least of all the conditions of their workers who produce the wealth. The whole capitalist system is corrupt.

28. ‘State capture’ has occurred through not only the likes of the Guptas and corrupt cadres, or the likes of the white old guard Ruperts, but even more so by the international financiers and their economic police – the credit rating agencies.

29. In the war between President Zuma and Finance Minister Gordhan, the latter represents the outlook of the dominant white monopoly sector of big business in general and big finance capital in particular.

30. Numsa has consistently condemned the economic policies of all the post-Apartheid Ministers of Finance – including Gordhan – and SA Reserve Bank governors for their role in implementing neo-liberal policies in post 1994 South Africa in the interests of white monopoly capital, and seeking to appease the ratings agencies.

31. Numsa affirms its view that the corruption we face is not merely the moral fault of this or that faction within the capitalist class and its state, but the inherently structurally corrupt and rotten capitalist system as a whole, which Numsa is committed to overthrowing and replacing with Socialism.

32. Zuma and the Guptas and Gordhan and the Ruperts are just one consequence of the ANC’s capitulation to racist and colonial capitalism in the negotiated settlement. They sold the dream of a racism-free, equal and just society and the full implementation of the Freedom Charter for a neoliberal capitalist society, complete with the corruption that comes with that package.

33. The adoption of GEAR in June 1996 effectively sealed South Africa’s fate to be a neoliberal capitalist state and society, replete with all the associated cut-throat competition and corruption. 

34. That is why we in Numsa unapologetically fight for a socialist South Africa and world, which is the only way to escape from the chains of poverty, hunger, corruption and exploitation.

Political Challenges

35. Congress affirmed that for the past two decades the South African revolution and the revolutionary forces that propelled it for years have failed to transform the Minerals/Energy/Finance complex:

a) The land question has not been addressed.

b) The ANC-led alliance refuses to address the issue of the ownership and control of the economy through nationalising minerals and the commanding heights of the economy.

c) Inequality has become the highest in the world. In 1994, when apartheid ended, the richest 1% took 12% of the country’s income, but 15 years later this had risen to 20%. 

d) The 2016 pay taken home by Shoprite chief executive Whitey Basson – more than R100 million – is 3500 times that of a typical casualised worker at his stores.

36. The super-exploitation of black and African labour, which has been the historic social base of the racist and colonial economy of South Africa, continues through other means, post 1994. White monopoly capital and the white population have continued to maintain a stranglehold over the economy and still sustain their dominance. 

37. The outcome of the negotiated settlement has meant the acquisition of fake and empty political power because it is without economic freedom.

38. A revolutionary vision to emancipate economically marginalised and dispossessed blacks and Africans was traded off for a negotiated settlement. The super-exploitation of black and African labour was left intact. 

39. The role of the liberation forces has been relegated to that of policing black and African poverty and labour, and running the budget, which in itself is controlled, as it cannot be more than a certain percentage, of the country’s GDP.

40. Self-imposed structural adjustment programmes in the form of the Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) and the National Development Plan (NDP), which was introduced both to conceal the failures of GEAR and to maintain the status quo, are directly responsible for sustaining the historic crisis of the black and African population of mass poverty, unemployment and inequality, post 1994.

41. Delegates reaffirmed the view of the 2013 Special National Congress (SNC), that the adoption of the NDP, another version of the 1996 GEAR strategy, meant that the key socio-economic demands of the Freedom Charter were not going to be implemented. There was not going to be any “second, more radical phase of transition”.

42. A fundamental symptom of the ongoing crisis of the post 1994 racist and colonial economy and society of South Africa is the escalating crisis and conflict in the universities.

43. Congress agreed that we need to more actively back the students’ struggle for free, quality and decolonised education and that we must get into the front line of this struggle.

44. Congress noted that as long as foreign and racist colonial capitalists dominate South Africa, there will be continued deterioration of the socio-economic conditions of the black and African masses, a sharpening of contradictions within the black African capitalist class, the rapid decline of the ANC and its formations, increased corruption and corrosion of state institutions, more resort by the state to anti-democratic and brutal police and military means to suppress mass discontent.

43. While the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) remains relevant, as the most direct route to socialism, the ANC-led Alliance has abandoned this correct programme.

44. Our immediate political task is to get the national democratic revolution back on track by asserting the revolutionary and socialist working class leadership of this revolution and to re-assert the Freedom Charter as the basic programme of this revolution and as a platform to unite all the class forces that suffer under the yoke of colonial dispossession and imperialist domination.

45. We have to proceed without delay to actively build a Marxist-Leninist Vanguard Revolutionary Workers Party.

46. Congress was highly critical of middle-class intellectuals who want to reduce Marxism to an intellectual fashion, people who want everything good that capitalism offers without the decaying and smelly stench of the capitalist system such as revolutionary wars. We have to combat the idea that there is a progressive capitalist alternative to socialism.

47. NUMSA remains a Marxist-Leninist inspired, revolutionary trade union. While we are very clear that the Freedom Charter is not a socialist document, it remains the basic programme of our revolution. We affirm our view that the ANC and SACP have abandoned the Freedom Charter.

Industrial crisis

48. Despite Numsa’s call for the state to drive an economic agenda that affirms blacks and Africans in the ownership of the economy, in particular in manufacturing, the old order prevails. Many workplaces still have white males in all key positions.

49. Congress calls for more radical measures to foster democratisation of the workplace, a clear career path for workers and the addressing of the ownership question.

50. Congress reiterated its demand for a job-led economic growth path and industrialisation, through the development of an alternative industrial policy plan to promote sustainable and decent work creation, economic development and security

51. We shall convene an African continental meeting where we must discuss issues of solidarity in fighting multinationals and collaborate with the international working class and socialist formations, NGOs, churches, youth and gender structures across the globe.

52. Congress resolved to fight to promote local beneficiation of primary goods and we urge workers to support local production by supporting local companies by buying locally produced goods and the strict enforcement of localisation and local procurement regulations.

53. On the issue of robotics, we will fight for laws that make sure that mechanisation does not result in displaced workers and increased unemployment.

54. We are determined, however, that the threat of technology and science to human labour can only be defeated by Socialism – when production will be fully under the control of the working class.

55. Resources must be put into the revamping of the country’s infrastructure to create job opportunities and the demand for construction goods.

56. Current regulations on scrap metal need to be enforced so that the recycling of scrap takes place in South Africa and enables the continued sustainability of smelters and foundries.

57. Eskom, as the monopoly in electricity production, needs to open up to alternative energy sources to make up for the short fall of energy.

58. Congress demands that South Africa must explore alternative sources of renewable energy (solar, wind, water), decrease reliance on coal, and reaffirm that the manufacturing and servicing of solar systems and power stations must be done locally.

59. We shall aggressively embark on rolling mass action campaigns, including a Section 77 campaign against building nuclear power stations and oppose the extravagant spending of close to R 1 trillion. Should all initiatives fail, we shall consider taking government to court to prevent them from implementing this programme.

60. We resolve to link our struggles around climate change with our struggle against global capitalism and find allies in that effort across the globe.

61. Congress demands that labour broking must be abolished completely and stricter labour measures taken against foreign-owned companies.

62. We need to win the 40-hour week in all our sectors and will mobilise rolling mass action against any limitation on the right to strike, including proposed legislation that aims to enforce a ballot before striking and the compulsory arbitration of strikes.

63. We denounce with contempt the current minimum wage of R3500 put forward at NEDLAC by Cyril Ramaphosa as a modern-day slavery wage that does not come close to the R12 500 which Marikana workers were massacred for. The proposed amount was our demand more than 20 years ago and material conditions have drastically changed since then.

64. Congress agreed to campaign against this poverty minimum wage, and to adopt R12 500 as a minimum wage in South Africa, in honour of the Marikana workers, and that any minimum wage should be in terms of real inflation and the prevailing high inequality that exists in our country.

65. Further, no minimum wage in South Africa will be meaningful unless it is linked to abolishing the apartheid wage gap and to a living wage.

66. No society can be free and democratic in which half of its population suffers gender oppression, domination and exploitation. Congress called for a radical mind-set change in society towards women. We must fight for gender equality.

67. We must work to empower female cadres. Males and females need to be sensitised and educated on gender issues and females must not be used as figures to balance gender in positions. 

68. Education on sexual harassment needs to be prioritised; employment in return for sexual favours must be criminalised. We reaffirm the position of the union on employment equity, but implementation needs to be carried out as a matter of urgency. This cannot be an on-going discussion that is without any action.


69. Numsa has the proud history of having participated in the bitter struggles against colonisation, racism and exploitation. We have been inspired by Chris Hani, JB Marx, Oliver Tambo, Ray Alexander, JZ Matthews, the Buntings, Ruth First, among many other revolutionaries.

70. We hold that the unity of workers and the working class is compulsory and sacrosanct.

71. Our struggle remains the same. In the 9th Congress we recognised that in all spheres of our activity we must build a massive, mighty, effective Numsa that is militant, with a socialist revolutionary character - not a gumboots union - and a union that links shop-floor struggles with community struggles.

72. Despite the crises in our sectors, the union has grown in membership, from 300,389 in 2012 to 340,687 in 2016!

73. We have recruited in sectors that are new to us and we are now recognised in those sectors, including PetroSA, Transnet, SAA and road freight.

74. We must continue to build Numsa as a fighting organisation, given that less than 30% of formal sector workers are unionized.

75. Congress has agreed to set a membership target of 500 000 by 2020.

76. Unions however represent a contradiction. We negotiate to regulate and limit the exploitation of capitalism yet simultaneously use mass workers struggles to confront the logic of capitalism and build working class power.

77. Our challenge is to continue to fight for the immediate needs for workers, while our long-term objective is to produce a cadre that accepts that capitalism as a system has no solution for problems that confront humanity. 

78. Numsa has had to weather the storm of neoliberal interventions in all its sectors. We have lost our agency fees, which impacted on our ability to carry out all the programmes we agreed to. 

79. The bosses have championed lean production and restructuring. They talk of focusing on their company’s “core business” and outsourcing “non-core business”. As a result they have outsourced, casualised, subcontracted and restructured, and brought in technology that displaces jobs.

80. We face a huge crisis in the manufacturing industry, with deepening levels of deindustrialisation, massive and growing job losses, and the stagnation of economic growth. We have a big challenge in continental marketing and will convene a conference on how to build an African auto industry and stop dumping.

81. Numsa calls on the government to fund, on an urgent basis, early in 2017, sectorial job summits preceded by a build-up of dialogue between relevant key social players. At the summits, critical measures to save and to grow jobs must be agreed on. 

82. Collective Bargaining is under siege. We have been fighting running battles against employers’ organisations and the Free Market Foundation.

83. Bargaining Councils are threatened with being undermined by a refusal to increase levies for 7 years. The MIBCO bargaining council is ineffective as it will not approve budgets and management plans. RMI and Neasa work as allies against the union. The MEIBC budget is inadequate and the Council is collapsing.

84. Numsa will take employers head-on to defend and expand collective bargaining.

85. The delegates paid tribute to our national office bearers and negotiators who struggled in an exceptionally hostile environment to secure improvement in wages and benefits.

86. We will defend picketing so that the picket line must always be in front of the employer workplace and continue to fight against lower wages and conditions for new entrants, and for the abolition of the Gatherings Act. 

87. In 2017 we must take up a campaign to demand for the radical implementation of the National Health Insurance and this must support the progress we are securing in industry-based medical aid.

United Front, New Federation and Revolutionary Party

88. We must move swiftly and build the United Front and all Numsa members must work harder to build it.

89. Congress resolved to root the new Independent Union Federation in the shop floor. The new Federation must launch a national “Ear to the Ground” Campaigns Programme in 2017 and the national leadership must be deployed countrywide to address workers. 

90. We must engage the other affiliates of the new Federation for the adoption of a Membership Service Charter similar to Numsa’s Membership Service Charter.

91. The New Federation must strive for self-financial sufficiency and all the affiliates must fund the organisational program and campaigns of the federation so as to avoid over-reliance to Numsa. 

92. On the revolutionary Marxist-Leninist political party we are giving birth to, we resolved to re-launch the political discussion forums in all of our locals and regions and identify a core of shop stewards and members to educate them on the importance of the Freedom Charter, and conscientise them about our Marxist-Leninist ideology.

93. Numsa will remain a union and will not turn itself into a political party.

94. However, all our shop stewards and officials should maintain an activist role and take responsibility for the party we are building.

95. The new party will strive to reconnect with other Left forces, which participated in the National Conference for a Socialist South Africa in the context of uniting the working class movement towards a common socialist agenda. 

96. Numsa officials must assist in recruiting, mobilizing and campaigning for the party but Numsa as a union must continue to recruit members irrespective of their ideological orientation and political affiliation. 


97. Congress takes note of the words of our newly re-elected President, when he said, when opening the Congress: “There is no alternative to organizing the working class for the revolutionary struggle for them to be their own liberators, their own masters. We have no choice but to take on this huge revolutionary task. The alternative is permanent misery, poverty, unemployment and suffering extreme inequalities. All this of course leads to brutal and painful short lives, for the majority of the working class. We must create the revolutionary mass vanguard political party to lead the struggle for socialism in South Africa. The alternative is the continued savagery and barbarism of capitalism, and civil wars.”

98. Further, our analysis of present day South Africa confirms that:

1. If no qualitative changes and realignments take place in the various social formations of the ruling class (block of Afrikaner, English, Black and African capitalist class), we should expect a greater reliance on the repressive methods of the state for the sustenance of the status quo - instability in the ruling block and declining living standards in the working class and rising political discontent leading to civil war.

2. If the aspirant native African industrial capitalist class takes leadership of the mass discontent, then South Africa is likely to adopt the same trajectory as India in the 1970’s, and posit an authentic nationalist solution; or

3. Based on the level of political development of the working class in South Africa, and the emergence of a genuinely revolutionary socialist leadership of the working class, the South African neo-colonial state offers an excellent opportunity to advance to a Socialist South Africa.

99. Congress declares that Numsa has no choice but to defend and grow itself, grow the United Front, work to facilitate the birth of a new, militant, democratic and worker controlled federation and give birth to a revolutionary socialist workers party!

100. Indeed, we must create the revolutionary mass vanguard political party to lead the struggle for socialism in South Africa. The alternative is the continued savagery and barbarism of capitalism, and civil wars!

Issued by NUMSA, 15 December 2016