NUMSA National Office Bearers Press Statement 0n the Resignation of Cde Cedric Gina as President of NUMSA, Numsa Head Office, Johannesburg, November 26 2013
"Nothing demonstrates better the increasing rigor of the colonial system: you begin by occupying the country, then you take the land and exploit the former owners at starvation rates. Then with mechanization, this cheap labour is still too expensive. You finish up taking from the native their very right to work. All that is left for the Natives to do in their own land at a time of great prosperity is to die of starvation." (Jean Paul Sartre, 2001)
A. Removal from office of President of Numsa of Comrade Cedric Gina
Apart from the numerous print, audio and television confirmation of the resignation of Cde Cedric Gina from the office of Numsa President in the past 24 hours, we, the Numsa National Office Bearers are in position of his signed resignation letter which was never emailed or distributed to the National Office Bearers but emailed to the 52 Numsa local offices.
This correspond with his media statements that he has send his resignation to "Numsa structures". This in itself is a strange way for the former Numsa President to communicate his resignation because organisational protocol dictates that such resignation be communicated to the Numsa General Secretary or Numsa Deputy General Secretary for the attention of the National Office Bearers.
We suspect that this bizarre way of communicating his resignation may have to with seeking sympathy or mobilising rank and file support to bring divisions through his unexpected resignation as Numsa President. What confirm this suspicion is that fact that Cde Gina's media statements suggest that he shall await the decision of "Numsa structures" on his resignation.
We take a very dim view of this ploy to attempt to defocus Numsa structures from their historic mission to confront the challenges facing the South African working class in general and metalworkers in particular, in the Numsa Special Congress.
To clear up any confusion we wish to quote the Numsa Constitution with respect to how the resignation of an office bearer is to be understood. Chapter 8, Article 1(e) of the Numsa Constitution states as follows:
"Any shopsteward, or any member holding any position in the Union, shall no longer hold that position if they resign".
We wish to announce to the country and the whole world that Comrade Cedric Gina no longer holds the office of President of Numsa. He has removed himself from this office, by his own resignation. We wish to advise all Numsa members and Numsa structures that the immediate and automatic Numsa Constitutional effect of Comrade Cedric Gina's removal from office by his own resignation is that no individual in Numsa, or constitutional structure or organ of Numsa, can re-instate Comrade Cedric Gina as President of Numsa.
B. A Numsa and Numsa General Secretary vilification campaign
Numsa was created some 26 years ago, by the merging together of several industrial and manufacturing unions in the metal and related sectors with many different militant, revolutionary, worker controlled and democratic trade union traditions.
It is impossible to service and grow such a union established from several different unions, and to consistently maintain socialist revolutionary and militant unity, without fostering first the greatest possible internal democratic culture.
Today, having grown to be more than 320 000 members, we pride ourselves in being a worker controlled, socialist, revolutionary, militant, democratic Marxist- Leninist inspired industrial and manufacturing trade union. This consistent growth has not been done a singular effort but by the hard work of all Numsa members, shopstewards, office bearers and officials. In Numsa we have a firm believe that no-one person is bigger than the organisation.
Our Numsa Constitution proudly announces to the world, in the Preamble, when it says:
"We, the members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, firmly commit ourselves to a united South Africa, free of oppression and economic exploitation.
We believe that this can only be achieved under the leadership of an organised and united working class.
Our experience has taught us that to achieve this goal we must:
(a) fight and oppose discrimination in all its forms within the Union, the factories and in society;
(b) strive for maximum unity amongst organised metalworkers and organise every unorganised metalworker into our national industrial Union;
(c) ensure that all levels of our Union are democratically structured and controlled by the worker members themselves through elected worker committees;
(d) encourage democratic worker leadership and organisation in our factories and in all spheres of society;
(e) reinforce and encourage progressive international worker-to-worker contact so as to strengthen the worldwide society of metalworkers.
We call on all metalworkers that identify with these principles and aims to join us and the metalworkers we represent, as comrades in the struggle ahead. We call on all metalworkers to set aside any prejudices they may have and strive for unity under the guiding slogan of the international working class:
"From each according to their ability; to each according to their needs"
Metalworkers want a South Africa free of oppression and economic exploitation. Such a South Africa can only be achieved under the leadership of an organised and united working class. You have to be a blind person of a special type not to recognise that such a South Africa is of course a Socialist South Africa!
Numsa's posture on ALL political matters has historically been informed by the preamble of the Numsa Constitution.
The values that have guided us and united us, and made us grow our Union over the past 26 hard years, to the point where today Numsa is the largest metal workers union in Africa are some of the following:
1. We oppose discrimination in all its forms, everywhere!
2. We aim and work for maximum unity of the working class.
3. Our Union is democratically structured and controlled by worker members themselves through their elected leaders.
4. Encouraging democratic worker leadership in the workplace and in society.
5. Promoting internationalism through worker to worker contact among other means.
All Numsa Shopstewards know these values. All National Office Bearers of Numsa understand and have a duty to advance these values. We obviously expect anybody occupying the position of President of the Union to be in fact the first Custodian of our Constitution.
We have taken this long to explain who we are, as a metalworker's industrial and manufacturing union, using our Constitution, precisely because we are aware that there is a well planned and oiled public campaign going on in South Africa from several sources, today, to isolate, demonise, delegitimize our Union in general, and its General Secretary - Comrade Irvin Jim, in particular.
As a worker controlled and democratic Union, the National Office Bearers and all elected leaders and officials of the Union have a democratic responsibility to uphold, defend and advance the constitutional decisions of the Union.
The office of the General Secretary of Numsa has a heavy responsibility to promote Numsa values and to consistently live by our Numsa Constitution.
We want to state very categorically, and without fear of any contradiction, that in Comrade Irvin Jim, Numsa has an able, intelligent, courageous, militant, Marxist-Leninist revolutionary and democratic General Secretary.
He has consistently, everywhere, even where it would be most uncomfortable to many good revolutionary leaders to state positions of their constitutional structures - even those that he may not personally agree with, faithfully represented the working class in particular and metalworkers in general.
It is in fact this singular fact, the fact that we have a very good General Secretary in Comrade Irvin Jim, that we must concede, that, working together with the entire NOB collective and all our shopstewards, elected leaders across the country, officials and members of Numsa, at a time when the sectors in which we organise are bleeding jobs, Numsa has grown by leaps and bounds.
We are not ashamed to admit that Numsa owes Comrade Irvin Jim a great deal of gratitude for his total commitment to the working class in general, and to the Union in particular, even at the possible risk of his own life.
Today we are aware that the risk to his life has dangerously multiplied over the past couple of years, because of his revolutionary consistency in defending Numsa positions.
At this time we must pause to share with you a posting on 26th November 2013 in Facebook which publicly threatens to kill Comrade Irvin Jim;
Steve wrote: "All of u can write what u like and say all manner of things, it will never deter us from our strategic alliance with the ANC, I'm saying it now that Irvin Jim is the most vitriolic political amoeba and must be expelled within our ranks. Thugs and criminals must be out rooted from society even if it means it's yourselves who are chatting here we must deal with u to the extent of killing you if u pose threat to life, no apology..!!!"
After this Numsa press conference we shall with our Attorneys lay a complaint with the Hawks to investigate the call for the killing of the Numsa General Secretary.
C. Numsa on the ANC and its Alliance
Numsa is currently very busy with its preparations towards the Special Numsa National Congress, to be held from the 13th to the 16th of December, 2013.
The Special Numsa National Congress preparations involve ALL Numsa members - from the smallest factory floor to the national leadership layers.
Among the urgent questions the Numsa Special Congress must resolve are the attitude of Numsa to the ANC led Alliance, the attitude of Numsa to the 2014 national elections, The crises in Cosatu, adoption of a Numsa Service Charter, taking forward a resolute struggle and campaigning on socio-economic campaigns to achieve the Freedom Charter in our country.
Every member of Numsa, through factory general meetings, local policy workshops, provincial policy workshops and ultimately the National Policy Workshop, has been afforded a democratic opportunity to debate and learn from others on these and other matters.
The Special Numsa National Congress will draw delegates from every factory in which Numsa has a presence.
Last Saturday, 23rd November 2013, throughout the country, Provincial Numsa Congresses engaged with the draft resolutions coming from all these processes and ultimately distilled in the Numsa National Policy Conference.
No single Numsa member has been prevented, through their workplaces and factory structures, from airing their views, debating with others, and ultimately participating in shaping the resolutions which will ultimately be debated and finally passed in the Numsa National Special Congress this December.
This is a laborious, costly process, but well worth it, if the worker members of the Union must indeed be the ultimate democratic owners of the Union.
Former President of Numsa Cedric Gina was in fact deployed to open and participate in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Provincial Congress. He did not pitch up. We now know why he failed to represent the Numsa Central Committee and National Office Bearers in the Numsa Kwazulu Natal Regional Congress on 23rd November 2013.
It is virtually impossible in Numsa for any national office holder, let alone a President of the Union, to be muzzled, and claim to be denied the possibility to participate and influence decisions of the Union. It is just not within the custom, practice and tradition within Numsa.
When you hold a minority view in Numsa, you will never be stifled. You will be availed the opportunity to fully engage and debate with others. Once democratically determined decisions are taken, it is expected that every member will rally behind their Union, least of all, an elected office bearer.
D. Numsa and South Africa today: the state of class struggles
In 2008, the top 20% or roughly 10 million South Africans received 75% of total national income.
The poorest 50% of the South African population or 25 million South Africans received a meagre 8% of the national income.
Out of these poorest 25 million South Africans, 24 millions are Africans.
These statistics are widely available for all who care to know the real South Africa, post 1994.
In a nutshell, these statistics clearly paint the ugliest picture of our continuing Colonialism of a Special Type, 19 years into our "democracy".
Africans in particular and Black people in general, who by and large constitute the largest portion of the South African working class, bear the brunt of mass poverty, widespread unemployed and extreme inequalities in South Africa today.
There has been a pathetic failure to radically resolve the colonial question by implementing, radically and fully, the Freedom Charter and to transfer the wealth of the country to all South Africans. All Numsa nine regions have confirmed this ugly fact, repeatedly.
South Africa has become the most unequal place on Earth, today, post 1994.
There is widespread corruption and looting of the public purse, as the Auditor General's reports consistently show.
The Black and African working class continues to be the backbone of the South African economy, by providing extremely cheap impoverishing labour to the largely white and imperialist owned and controlled South African economy.
Land ownership, the essence and very reason of all liberation struggles, remains an unresolved issue almost two decades after 1994.
To speculate, or even to hint, that Numsa or its General Secretary can sacrifice the struggle to correct these historical, national, gender and class injustices at the altar of any political office for any individual is to demonstrate total ignorance of what Numsa is!
E. What are the challenges we are confronting?
We think that, coming from members of Numsa from the entire country, the following are the urgent revolutionary tasks of the metalworkers of South Africa:
a. To defend and advance the revolutionary socialist traditions and trajectory of Numsa.
b. To defend and advance the immediate and radical implementation of the Freedom Charter, in full, as the only viable solution to the mass poverty, unemployment, and extreme inequalities in our country.
c. To defend and insist on the immediate implementation of the Radical Programme of Action of the Cosatu 11thCongress of 2012.
d. Defend and implement the decisions of the post Cosatu 11th Congress Collective Bargaining Conference on the abolition of the colonial wage and the immediate implementation of a minimum living wage in South Africa.
e. Defend the socialist revolutionary unity of the working class.
f. Every Numsa member must mobilise to fight:
i. The neoliberal NDP!
iii. Labour brokers!
iv. The abominable youth wage subsidy, now deceitfully called "Employment Incentive Tax," which the bosses and the ANC want to use to divide and weaken the working class, while giving free money to the bosses!
v. The South African Colonial wage structure!
vi. Abolition of the apartheid geography of human settlement and economy!
vii. For manufacturing and re-industrialisation of our country and quality decent jobs.
We urge all Numsa members to remain vigilant against all enemies of the working class in general, and Numsa detractors in particular, during these tough times.
United we shall triumph.
Statement issued by the NUMSA National Office Bearers, November 26 2013
Click here to sign up to receive our free daily headline email newsletter