NDP no substitute for the Freedom Charter - NUMSA

Central Committee backs COSATU's opposition to the POSIB


The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) held a highly successful Central Committee meeting (CC) from Sunday the 11th to Wednesday the 14th of December 2011, at Vincent Mabuyakhulu Conference Centre, Newtown, Johannesburg, Gauteng province.

The purpose of the CC was to receive political, organisational, financial and international reports, and a detailed account on the implementation of the Programme of Action (PoA) as adopted by the last December 2010 Central Committee (CC) of NUMSA.

The CC noted the ongoing and deepening global crisis of Capitalism and its further worsening in Europe and the United States of America (USA) - the global centers of Capitalism and imperialism in the world. The events all over Europe and the US are a living proof of the correctness of the scientific analysis of the greatest thinker of the working class, and the most erudite economist of all time mankind has ever produced, Karl Marx, that Capitalism is inherently a crisis-ridden system.

1. COP 17 & Class Struggle:

Amidst the deepening crisis of climate change and in the context of the COP17 negotiations that were taking place in Durban, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa convened its first International Seminar on Climate Change and Class Struggle on the 4th December 2011.

Climate change cannot be resolved separately from the resolution of the capitalist crisis. Capitalism is currently devouring its own children throughout the world. The crisis is a global class war. We need to link our struggles around climate change with global anti capitalist struggles.

Delegates at the Numsa International Climate Change Seminar called on government to review the Carbon Development Mechanisms (CDM's) and other elements of carbon trade that are being championed by global finance institutions and believe that an emerging carbon market could potentially undermine the need for a socially owned Renewable Energy sector. We reject market based solutions to climate change. Negotiations are not delivering so far. There is a need for massive reductions, NOW. Agreement needs to be much faster than 2020, since people are dying now. COSATU must take a policy to block CDM's and other market based climate change solutions.

We believe Just Transition must be based in worker controlled, democratic social ownership of key means of production and means of subsistence. There is a need for long term collective planning of wealth and production and how needs are met. Collective and democratic planning is needed in order to make far reaching interventions that are on the scale that is needed and at the pace it is needed, and doing so in such a way that workers avoid bearing all the costs of the transition. Without this struggle over ownership, and the struggle for a socially owned renewable energy sector, Just Transition will become a capitalist concept, building up a capitalist "green economy". 

Within this, the question of ownership of hydrocarbons is central to the struggle against climate change. There is a need for nationalizing them. This will give political control of the industries and ensure that the economic revenue stays in countries where the fossil fuels are located. The example of Bolivia is key, and there is a need to learn from this experience.

There is a need for such nationalizations to be based on a state that is really of the whole people. It involves a political struggle.

The CC noted that, in the ongoing realities of a deepening global crisis of Capitalism, it was totally misplaced to expect any real movement on the Kyoto Protocol on the Environment and any significant agreements and on reductions in capitalist modes of production which pollute the Earth and heat it up.

While the CC welcomes the increasing emphasis being placed on a safer and greener Earth, the CC emphatically noted that the main enemy of the world today is the global system of capitalism which is profit driven and has no regard for the quality of our environment and now is moving fast to turn so-called Green Fields into new sites of private profit accumulation.

2. On the ongoing de-industrialization and job bloodbath in South Africa today

The CC noted the fact that the ongoing global crisis of capitalism is deepening, and now threatens massive civil upheavals in Europe and the United States of America.

In South Africa, the CC is clear that the effects of the deep seated structural and systemic crisis of the global capitalist system will further worsen our inherited Apartheid situation of the triple crisis of gross inequalities, massive unemployment and mass poverty.

Further, the CC noted that in the past 17 years, our macro and micro economic policies have accelerated the pace at which South Africa has de-industrialized and shed jobs.

A toxic economic combination, among others, of inflation targeting, high interest rates, rapid removal of exchange controls, trade liberalization, an overvalued currency - all have combined to kill South African industries.

The CC noted the good work NUMSA has done since 2008 to combat the job bloodbath, to reverse de-industrialization, to replace inflation targeting with employment targeting, to ban labour brokers, and many such similar economic struggles on behalf of the working class.

The CC encouraged the NOBs to double their efforts in 2012, on these fronts.

The CC noted that from 2012 onwards, the fight for decent work, for ending the South African Apartheid Wage, for banning labour brokers, for industrialization of South Africa among others must intensify if we are, as a country, to avoid social catastrophe.

The CC applauded the efforts of the NUMSA NOBs in forging minimum tactical alliances with industry to stem the destruction of South African industries, and for their efforts at getting the metalworkers voices heard at the highest levels of leadership in both government and the Alliance.

3. NEASA and attacks on NUMSA and Collective Bargaining

The CC condemns the attempts by NEASA to undermine Collective Bargaining Agreements in the Engineering Sector by their resort to courts to overrun the Agreements secured during the Collective Bargaining processes.

The CC views these actions as an attack not only NUMSA, but on the very foundations of constitutionally entrenched labour rights of workers in this country.

The CC will not allow NUMSA to meekly watch the bosses' water down the hard won benefits at Collective Bargaining by NEASA.

4. On the National Planning Commission (NPC), Diagnostic Report and National Development Plan:

The CC made the following emphatic observations pertaining to the broad thrust and overall role of the National Planning Commission (NPC) its Diagnostic Report and Draft National Development Plan (NDP), under the incumbent Minister in the Presidency, Trevor Manuel:

a. The origins of the NPC lie in the demands of the working class for a nation-wide socio-economic planning framework that would enable the ANC as a governing party to fully implement the watershed 52nd ANC National Conference resolutions adopted in Polokwane in line with the overall policy objectives as encapsulated in the Freedom Charter;

b. That the NPC was not conceptualized to become a supra national/state or Ministry structured to work outside the framework and or policy positions of the governing ANC;

c. We had initially opposed the leadership of the current Minister responsible for the NPC precisely because we fully understood where he was coming from ideologically - from an anti working class, neoliberal, finance driven planning background that had done a lot of damage to the post 1994 South Africa's efforts of promoting a jobs led socio-economic growth path;

d. That the Diagnostic Report of the NPC, while quite perfectly capturing the historical roots (in our history of Britons and Afrikaner capitalist dispossessions, displacements, oppression, exploitation and racial engineering) and causes of the current dangerously unsustainable levels of inequality, mass poverty and massive unemployment, went on to isolate the symptoms of our history and, transformed these symptoms into our key socio-economic challenges!

e. The NPC says: "Our key strategic objectives are the elimination of poverty and the reduction of inequality" (p.8). It then continues to say: "The continued social and economic exclusion of millions of South Africans, reflected in high levels of poverty and inequality, is our biggest challenge. In our view, these high levels of poverty and inequality have a historical basis in apartheid and are driven principally by the fact that too few people work and that the quality of education for many black people remains poor.

Central to addressing these challenges sustainably over time is our ability to create jobs for more people and to improve the quality of education, especially for poor black people".

f. In terms of the underlying, or root causes, of South Africa's biggest challenges, the NPC says: "The roots of South Africa's high rates of unemployment, poverty and inequality can be traced to more than a century of colonial exploitation and apartheid - denying African people access to land, and the right to run businesses, to own certain assets, to quality education and to live in well-located areas". 

g. The CC fully agrees with this articulation. At the bottom of all our problems as a country is more than 350 years of colonialism. But colonialism changed over time, and transformed into capitalist colonialism. Capitalism itself evolved into monopoly capitalism. From the very beginning South African capitalism emerged within the context of colonial subjugation and dispossession of the African people, and its evolution found expression in the perfection of mechanisms to exploit African labour. South African capitalism is therefore inconceivable without colonialism. The massive wealth that has been accumulated over the years, the large corporations-the white monopoly capitalist enterprises, are founded on the historical process of colonial exploitation of African labour by the white capitalist class.

h. It is precisely this economic relation between the white capitalist class and the African working class which defines, in concrete terms, the most fundamental relation upon which ideological and political superstructures of South African society rest. It is also this very same economic relation which informs the power relations in South African society, which power relations also explain the flow of resources among classes, between racial groups and between men and women. 

The continued existence of this economic relation also feeds into the ideological formation, especially racism. The democratic forces made it clear that to let existing forces to continue monopolising the means of production would feed the root of racial supremacy. This is the case because white monopoly capital, because of the power relation, would always ensure that the white population occupies a higher level in the food-chain, whilst non-whites are themselves structured in a hierarchy that affirms racial stereotypes.

i. Having correctly addressed the root causes of unemployment, poverty and inequality, the NPC has a second task, the task of explaining why over the past 17 years, the democratic order has failed to resolve unemployment, poverty and inequality. In the words of the NPC: "Our implicit conclusion is that a business-as-usual approach will result in South Africa failing to meet a great many of its objectives, and the diagnostic document highlights the main reasons why this is so (p.1)...The economy has failed to create jobs at the pace necessary to reduce extremely high unemployment, and the education system has failed to ensure that equalised public spending on schooling translates into improved education for poor black children (p.5)... Efforts to raise the quality of education for poor children have largely failed".

10. The NPC Diagnostic Report is highly inconsistent. It identifies 9 challenges that it considers to be obstacles to addressing unemployment, poverty and inequality. However it does not link these challenges to the underlying problematic economic relation that defines South African society, which the NPC itself acknowledges to be at the "root" of our problems as a country. As a result, the diagnosed root cause of the South African disease is divorced from the symptoms. 

The symptoms are then treated as problems in themselves, instead of them being expressions of an underlying economic relation that persistently generates them.

The CC, informed by the above analytical observations rejects the conclusions and recommendations as contained out in the NPC Diagnostic Report.

If the Diagnostic Report transformed symptoms into causes, we see no reason why the Draft National Development Plan and Vision produced by the NPC can be logical, and be aimed at tackling the root causes of the triple crisis of gross inequalities, mass poverty and massive unemployment in South Africa today.

Furthermore, our own understanding and interpretation of the Diagnostic Report, Vision and National Development Plan from the NPC, is that all of them, by deliberately ignoring the basic systemic and structural driver of the crisis of development in South Africa today - white monopoly capitalism - are clear class positions in defense of White monopoly Capital, and the White capitalist community it religiously supports in our country, notwithstanding the insignificant sprinkling of Blacks and Africans among them.

The CC noted the production of the Diagnostic Report and the NDP, and has embarked upon a detailed critique of the NDP, which we will publish during the course of February 2012. 

NUMSA will continue to demand that nothing short of the full implementation of the demands of the Freedom Charter will amount to anything in South Africa other than merely the efforts of the bosses and their lackeys to send the working class to sleep.

5. On the Protection of Sate Information Bill

The CC made a frank and honest reflection on the Information Bill. The CC fully agreed with the posture or stance taken by COSATU on the Bill.

In as much as it was finally passed in the National Assembly after it had undergone some changes through the Ad Hoc Committee.

The CC of NUMSA is fully in agreement with the latest position as articulated by the General Secretary of COSATU in relation to the Information Bill, after the CEC of Cosatu.

Further, NUMSA, as an integral formation of the working class, from a working class perspective, makes the following observations on the Bill:

a. We reject the notion that any objections to restricting access to information from the state is in the interests of liberals and the liberal media: it is in the class interests of the working class to have an unimpeded access to state information from any state in a capitalist society such a ours.

b. NUMSA has no illusions about the class character of the current South African state. While it is in the commercial interests of the right wing and liberal media to demand for an unimpeded access to state information, and while it may be true that such liberal and right wing access may be injurious to some of the aspirations of the post 1994 South African state, we are convinced that the Bill in its current state will diminish workers access to critical state information, thus harming workers participation in advancing democracy in this country.

c. As a Socialist formation, NUMSA is well aware of the history of injury to the cause for Socialism the concealment of state information can do.

d. In fact, NUMSA is fully conscious of how capitalist states including the Apartheid government, dealt with "state secrecy laws" to deal with Communists, Socialists, progressive liberals and even churches! 

e. The CC is of the view that, in this computer and internet day and age, and post 1994 in South Africa, rather than restricting access to state information by whatever means, our efforts must be to allow for fuller popular access to such information.

In this way, we will be creating the possibility for full popular and working class access to state information, a necessary condition for deepening popular and working class democracy in South Africa.

The CC is confident that the Alliance, through the NCOP will address the concerns raised by NUMSA, COSATU and other components of civil society.

We remain convinced that there is a need to introduce a public interest defense that would maintain a balance between the restrictions legitimately placed on State information against disclosures and media publication of such information in the public interest.

The CC is concerned about the nasty characterization, labeling and pigeon-holing of COSATU General Secretary for publicly communicating an agreed CEC position taken through an open and democratic process pertaining to the Protection of State Information Bill.

The CC wants to state clearly that the positions communicated by COSATU General Secretary are not his own, but are derived from a mandate from affiliates through the federation's constitutional decision-making meetings. This is the reason why the CC is firmly behind the position taken by the federation on the Information Bill. The NUMSA CC is firm that any attack on the COSATU General Secretary for communicating collective decisions of the federation is rejected and is viewed as counter revolutionary as COSATU remain an independent formation of the alliance drawing its mandates direct from its constituency.

The federation is not for sale!

6. The historic political events of 2012

The CC noted that 2012 will be an historic year for South Africa in general and the Liberation Movement and its Alliance.

NUMSA will be hosting, early next year, a National Conference on Nationalization and Socially Owned Renewable Energy Sectors, Conference on Economic Policy and a Symposium on the National Development Plan from the NDP.

The CC noted that these Conferences and the Symposium will assist metalworkers to participate meaningfully in the ANC Policy Conference and the 53rd National Conference of the ANC, in the Cosatu 11th National Congress and the 13thNational Congress of the SACP.

NUMSA will be holding its 9th National Congress in Durban, KZN.

7. Police Brutality against Striking Workers!

During the course of our struggle for a Living Wage and improved conditions of employment for our members, particularly in the engineering sectors, we observed a well-calculated and coordinated police offensive and brutality meted out against our striking workers. This police offensive and brutality was not class neutral, given our ideological understanding that in a Capitalist state like South Africa, the repressive arms of the state, such as police, judiciary and the army, always act to protect the interests of the dominant class, the class that exploits the labour of others and derives profits through surplus value generated through the hard labour of workers.

We hold the view that the police should not be bullied or use excessive force to mitigate over industrial disputes or popular struggles by workers for a fair share of wealth at the point of production. These struggles by workers are genuine and legitimate given the triple crisis of poverty, unemployment and deepening income inequalities inn our country. Therefore, the police, as workers too, should not be co-opted by the capitalist managers of our economy to silence popular dissent or liquidate struggles that are geared towards improving the socio-economic living conditions of our people.

The role of the police during strike actions or protests is ensuring that those participating in these activities enjoy their constitutional and democratic rights unimpeded.

On our part we will continue to educate our members whenever they are on strike actions or protests to always act within the law.

8. World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) Presidential Council

The World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) Presidential Council to be hosted jointly by NUMSA, CEPPAWU and NEHAWU will be held in our country as from 9 -until- 11 February 2012, Parktonian Hotel, Gauteng province.

This Presidential Council will be historic for the trade union movement and the mass democratic movement in our country as a whole. This class and Socialist-orientated WFTU played a qualitative and significant role in the liberation struggle of our own country and galvanized international support for the isolation of apartheid and the fascist Pretoria regime.

It was the WFTU through its bases all over the globe that the ANC and the SACP with the help of SACTU were able to set-up their machinery in exile as part of taking our struggle forward.

We NUMSA, CEPPAWU and NEHAWU as affiliates of WFTU we are proud to associates ourselves with such a giant global federation whose support immeasurable. We are proud that some of our own celebrated liberation movement stalwarts such as Moses Mabhida, Michael Harmel and many others served WFTU with great distinction and honour.

This Presidential Council provides an opportunity for the liberation Alliance, composed of the ANC, SACP and COSATU to celebrate, acknowledge and appreciate the historic role played by WFTU in our struggle for liberation and people's power.

Furthermore, this Presidential Council will serve as a platform for the Trade Union Movement in South Africa as led by our federation, COSATU, to identify itself and be part of other class and like-minded global federations such as the WFTU.

9. The NUMSA's Programme of Action (PoA) for 2012

The CC discussed and approved the union's programme of action for 2011. The key pillars of this programme include:

  • Entrenching the traditions of a militant, campaigning and politically active union;
  • Improve livelihoods of members and their families;
  • Consolidate the gains of the 2011 bargaining round;
  • Developing a clear and visionary recruitment / organising strategy;
  • Bring internationalism home;
  • Develop and Train a Staff Cadre

10. The ANC Centenary in 2012

The CC noted that NUMSA has in fact already begun the Celebrations hen it invited the Chair Person of the ANC to launch NUMSA's Centenary Celebrations in September this year.

NUMSA has also established Political Commissions in all the nine Regions of the Union across the country.

We are confident that the ANC will mobilize all democracy loving South Africans to be part of the Celebrations.

11. NUMSA 25th Anniversary Celebrations in 2012

The CC noted progress made in the preparations for NUMSA's 25th Anniversary Celebrations next year.

The CC calls on all NUMSA members past and present to join NUMSA in its Celebrations of a glorious, militant, revolutionary and fighting 25 years next year.

The CC urged the Secretariat to make the Celebrations a success.

12. Condolences

The CC sends its Condolences to the family of Comrade Ludumo Luphondwana - a loved VW Shopsteward in the Eastern Cape. NUMSA dips its Red Banners in fond memory of this metalworker and shopsteward.

Statement by Irvin Jim, NUMSA General Secretary, December 14 2011

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