SACP Message of Solidarity to the South African Municipal Workers Union National Congress
by Cde Solly Mapaila, 2nd Deputy General Secretary
26 August 2015
Let us work together to unite the working class, our communities, and our movement!
Dear comrades, for and on behalf of the SACP let me express our message of solidarity with your union and its entire membership. The SACP is behind you, dear comrades!
Over the last decade or so the SACP has been concerned about some of the weaknesses and challenges facing the progressive trade union movement and the workers in general. These challenges can only be properly understood from their structural causes and drivers. At the heart of this, is the massive restructuring of the workplace and the working class by the bosses who are interested in nothing but profit maximisation and private capital accumulation. This has had a huge impact on the unity of the trade union movement.
The casualisation, labour-brokering and retrenchment of the working class, even prior to the current global capitalist crisis, was already beginning to weaken workers and the unions in a number of sectors. The impact of this restructuring includes a devastating effect on an uneven scale across all sectors. In particular, the private sector, mining and manufacturing, services and hospitality, and in vulnerable sectors such as agriculture, farming and the domestic sector.
We must go back to the basics of organising. But at the same time, we need new methods to organise the rapidly changing capitalist world of work. The neoliberal restructuring of the capitalist workplace has led to declining trade union density in the private sector corresponding to the levels of insecurity which have increased. On the other hand, relative stability in the public sector has led to increasing trade union density in the. For example, the majority of the members of COSATU affiliates are now in the public sector unions.
Part of the restructuring of the capitalist workplace has also been the increasing ‘regionalisation’ of the working class in certain sectors, among others in agriculture and farming, private security, hospitality and domestic services. In other words, the bosses have shifted to the super-exploitation of vulnerable foreign nationals as a strategy to drive profitability. The answer to this cannot be xenophobic attacks. It is to be the unity of the workers and the working class as a whole independently of national borders!
In the trade union movement, there has been an increasing number of contestations over unions. Some of these appear to be new and strange kinds of contestations. This in itself is partly a reflection of the restructuring of the workplace. Of course, there are other factors as well. Nowadays, we see business interests backing groupings in the electoral contests within unions and factionalising trade unions. This phenomenon has been particularly acute in the NUM, SATAWU, CEPPWAWU but as well as in other unions where leadership has increasingly been challenged by moneyed interests in an attempt at corporate capture of these unions. Honest, frank and open analyses are absolutely necessary in order to confront this and other challenges facing our union movement.
A united, independent and militant COSATU is an indispensable part of second phase of our transition!
It is important that we remain focused on the unity of COSATU and our Alliance. In fact it is during challenging times that we must ensure maximum unity. At no stage should any debate or disagreement within SAMWU or any of the COSATU affiliates be allowed to undermine unity. The unity of our unions is not up for sale, nor can it be recklessly gambled with to satisfy short-term and opportunistic objectives. Any threats to split the federation or even to form another one must be exposed for what it is, an enemy plot to defeat organised workers and our democratic revolution!
As the SACP we would like to use this occasion to go on record to dismiss with the contempt it deserves any claims or insinuations that the SACP is or wants to divide COSATU. The SACP has a long and proud history of building the progressive trade union movement over its 94 years of existence against exploitation, for national liberation struggle and socialism. We continue to do so today. In fact no political party has contributed to the building of the trade union movement more than what the SACP has done!!
The SACP is firmly of the view that our revolution needs a strong and independent COSATU that is neither a conveyor belt for government and the ANC, nor that of the Party itself. We do not want a COSATU that is an extension of our Party, but we want a robust and militant COSATU that is able to take up the struggles of the workers consistently while remaining part of our national liberation movement.
For instance if SAMWU keeps quiet we can kiss good bye the objective of building and defending a democratic developmental local government. You must flex your muscles and advance workers interests and broader working class struggle within your structural location!
Defend the Unity of our movement, the ANC from corporate capture!
Defeat the so called Premier League, if such a thing exists. We hope the comrades referred to as such will come out and denounce the insinuation. Failure to so will have serious implications.
We must fight corruption and break ranks with corrupt leaders!
We must defeat factionalism and the constitutional hijacking and capturing of the movement by anti-working class heroes, who unashamedly if ironically we put to power. The working class must never lower its guards. It must protect its long term interests and fight resolutely to secure its immediate aims. This cannot be entrusted on individuals. It is the task of the class as a whole and its organised detachments!
We must equally uproot patronage and the financialisation of internal processes used to hijack structures.
Declare war on the tigers and smash the flies and pursue the hyenas by satellites!
This means we must resolutely fight the kingpins of corruption; deal with their runners decisively; pursue those who run away; stash corrupt proceeds both in the public sector, the private sector and inside our movements! This we must do indiscriminately, without regard to rank and position if we are interested in the success of our national democratic transformation and a prosperous South Africa.
Let us deepen the unity of our movement!
We must applaud the recent outcomes of the alliance summit on deepening the unity of our movement. We must not allow those who do not want to see a strong alliance to undermine these outcomes. We must defend these outcomes!
Let us combat a partisan political agenda that seeks to hijack our independent democratic institutions in the name of defending them!
Recently, we have seen unelected non-governmental organisations or companies such as “Corruption Watch” and “Freedom Under Law” seeking to assert private control over the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). The retired Constitutional Court Judge, Johann Kriegler, is reportedly “behind Freedom Under Law”. Judge Kriegler called 702 radio station on Wednesday, 19 August, to denounce an independent decision arrived at by the NPA.
On Tuesday, 18 August, the NPA withdrew charges of perjury against the Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions (DNDPP), Advocate Nomgcobo Jiba. The NPA said there was no prospect for successful prosecution. In addition, the authority said that the Prevention of Organised Crime Act indemnifies prosecutorial actions taken in good faith, such as the decisions made by the DNDPP. The charges were, partly brought against the DNDPP based on disagreements on those decisions.
The hypocritical agenda represented by the retired judge and the unelected non-governmental organisations that want to assert their authority on our independent state institutions runs in parallel to another strategy. There is a move to have the DNDPP struck off the roll of advocates by the General Council of the Bar.
Our people must not fall to the deception that this agenda is about the law and a fight against corruption. We must all understand this for what it is, a partisan agenda and a politics of opposition to our democratically elected government!
We all know that retired judges remain on the payroll of the state for the rest of their lives, and this for good reasons. Their conduct should therefore be no different from that of the rest of the other judges. A retired judge, for instance, may be appointed to perform a judicial function as and when it becomes necessary. The conduct of some of the retired judges therefore leaves much to be desired.
We also know that many of the unelected non-governmental organisations, which are mostly made up by few individuals operating under the name of civil society, were established to pursue partisan political agendas by other means.
Imperialism has found useful partners in many of such groupings. Not only does imperialism sponsor many of them the world over, in pursuit of its economic and political interests, it has actually been behind their formation. We should equally applaud many who seek to find solutions to our problems than inflame the problems like the not useful posture of the EFF.
It is important therefore to recognise that the scope for political activity has long been widened beyond formal political parties in the name of being “non-political”. It is important for all of us to see when such political action is being played out.
We must also intensify, as the working class, our own programme to build working class power and hegemony in all terrains of struggle.
But the hostile agenda against our struggle is not only embedded in small groupings operating in the name of “civil society”.
The media is not beyond reproach, it not above board!
Such a partisan agenda has a backing in the media, where, it is pursued in the name of the principle of objective, balanced, accurate and fair reporting. These principles have by the way long been discredited by that very same biased media content.
In a country such as ours, where the media, especially the press, is constituted by private monopoly capital, such partisan agendas have proven to be very dangerous.
In particular, the whole of the government, and democratic state institutions which have not been annexed by private corporate capture or by the influence of oppositionism masqueraded as independence are consistently branded as corrupt. This toxic news is being repeated over and over again.
The basic content of this agenda is to discredit national liberation movements that remain anti-imperialist, or that have at least not derailed from the historical mission of the national liberation struggle. The aim is to make people lose confidence in those movements, such as ours as led by the ANC, and then elbow them out of government by “democratic means”. The immediate objective is to reduce their electoral support, to a point where they are unable to govern without coalition partners which are in the opposition. We must defeat this agenda!
Let us push forward with media transformation!
Our immediate strategic tasks include vigorously advancing the struggle to achieve transformation and diversity in the media and accountability, including independent regulation. We must de-monopolise the media industry!
The voice of the people – as defined in the Freedom Charter – must find space in the media, regardless whether they are the working class, poor, township or rural. Presently, this voice is marginalised.
Which is why our struggle to achieve media transformation correctly includes independent regulation!
Another key centre of power our liberation struggle and its second, more radical phase of democratic transition will not succeed without its transformation is the financial sector!
Let us continue pushing to achieve transformation of the financial sector to serve the people!
The financial sector exercises enormous amount of power over the affairs of the rest of society. This through control over and management of our resources, the people must manage their own resources through strong public economy including cooperatives in sectors of the economy not least in industry and the banks. The state must play an enabling role and also create its own banks to lend the working class cheaply and help fund development. We must also change the way the Development Finance Institutions like the IDC, DBSA operates so that they should vigorously pursue a developmental agenda and not the narrow capitalist projects funding irrespective of social impact and national imperatives.
Presently, there is an estimated 20 billion rands of unclaimed pension or retirement funds which are in the hands of the financial sector. Beneficiaries and their dependents find it very hard to claim their fair or deserved share of this resources. Some have in fact given up, while others are not even aware that they are entitled to claim their money.
It is important to go all out in social mobilisation among our people to build awareness about the resources, for our people to claim their apportionments. The SACP reiterate its call for public administration of the unclaimed retirement funds. These resources must be invested in ways that make them available for the advancement of national development.
The SACP reiterates its call to the National Economic Development and Labour Council to convene the second financial sector summit to review progress since the first summit was held about a decade ago. The banks are unreliable, they have practically reversed many of the gains we gained on the streets because we have lost focus as the working and started fighting internally.
Let us stop the unnecessary fights and face the common enemy that impoverish the working class!
South Africans need affordable financial services, as opposed to the astronomical charges imposed by the banks. The life sentence of 20 years on mortgage bonds and its structure of compounded interest rates must come to an end!
So are unscrupulous and mostly corrupt evictions, and illegal garnishee orders.
We are calling on you, dear comrades, to join our campaign on the transformation of the Financial Sector linked properly with your campaign for decent wage.
South Africans need a new financial sector architecture to drive both transformation and development. Presently, the financial sector is like a self-serving vampire that acts as a predator on our people as its preys!
Our country will not become prosperous while it remains under the yoke of the prevailing financial sector and its predatory practices.
Without democratic public control on the financial sector, we will find it difficult to direct investment to the productive sector of the economy to create jobs.
Without the overall transformation of the financial sector, our second, more radical phase of democratic transition will not become successful.
It is important in the face of the ongoing international capitalist system crisis to close ranks and unite!
It is important for the working class to build maximum unity in order to withstand this crisis, and to take our struggle for socialism to greater heights.
Capitalism is the cause of the crises we are facing, not its solution!
The only solution is socialism!
Since the eruption of this global crisis first in the United States prior to 2008 the world economy has not recovered, including South Africa.
The pre-crisis peak levels in growth and production have not been reached in many sectors of the economy. Millions of workers throughout the world lost their jobs in the aftermath of the crisis, which became a Great Recession. Many workers who found new jobs since then had to face a downgrade in quality, conditions and income.
The bosses’ neoliberal agenda of casualisation involving permanent temporarisation of employment has increased in many economies with devastating consequences for the workers. The bosses do not care about the workers. They care about one thing and one thing only. That is profit. If anything happens that reduces the rate of profit they always and everywhere turn the heat on to the workers.
There have been many capitalist responses to the Great Recession, ranging from:
undemocratic regime change agendas, including military aggression spearheaded by the United States and its European imperialist allies and support for unelected non-governmental organisations operating under the name of civil society but coalescing on opposition and regime change agenda bent against national liberation movements which remain anti-imperialist;
to austerity measures imposed in Europe and elsewhere against the working class.
It is during these multiple crises that we have seen an intensified agenda to divide the trade union movement and tear it apart. The progressive trade union movement in South Africa has been the focus of this agenda.
If the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle involving the oppressor and the oppressed, then the history of the oppressor and the oppressed is the history of the oppressor establishing connections and securing collaborators among the oppressed in order to perpetuate oppression, including exploitation.
This is the context in which the world trade union movement was divided in the post-World War 2 period, underpinned by an imperialist agenda to destroy the World Federation of Trade Unions.
That is no different from the disunity that the progressive trade union movement has been faced with in our country since the eruption of the Great Recession.
We call on you, dear comrades, to consider positively the re-joining of the WFTU, our class oriented international trade union movement built by the toiling masses in the fight against imperialism.
Let us confront the forces of disunity for what they are!
The forces of disunity against and in the trade union movement have adopted the characteristics of a virus. They have sought to extend their reach and multiply themselves through factionalism in every organisation they manage to infect. The ultimate agenda in the event of failure to capture the whole body organisation is to destroy it and use the rabbles obtained from it to advance separatist organisation.
Revolutionary theory drawn from the historical experience of revolutionary practice taught us that the workers divided they will fall. The workers’ basic weapon of victory in any class struggle is unity. Those who are advancing disunity, division and fragmentations are therefore not serving the historical mission of the workers in particular and the working class in general.
It is only the enemy class that stands to benefit from such reactionary tendencies that might as well be mostly supported by hostile forces. It is important to bear in mind that in class struggle the most dangerous enemy is the enemy within, the one who is wearing the same colours, plans and sings with you, while propagating the enemy agenda. This should make us vigilant – but we must not start chasing shadows looking for the enemy within.
Let us broaden our unity!
Let us combat sectarianism!
It is important to emphasise that employed workers alone do not constitute the totality of the working class. Play your revolutionary role in our communities. Join the Alliance formations and call on your families and friends to also join and strengthen our revolution. Join the SACP and also pay the due levies so it can truly be funded by the workers and not corporate sponsors.
In the recent period we have come across an agenda that reacts negatively towards our revolutionary theory of broad unity that is based on a revolutionary minimum platform. This agenda has called for our liberation alliance to be dissolved. This destructive agenda has been driven in the name of the Freedom Charter.
Ironically, that very same agenda has been courting anti-Freedom Charter organisations, some of which have openly adopted the so-called free market, with a view to establish a Cosatu rival with them. The same agenda has also been courting other anti-Freedom Charter groupings, with a view to establish the so-called political organ with them, opposed to our liberation alliance. We need not waste any further time on this reactionary tendency. Let us recall the words of revolutionary wisdom by Karl Marx in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte when he said:
“As, in private life, the distinction is made between what a man thinks of himself and says, and that which he really is and does, so, all the more, must the phrases and notions of parties in historic struggles be distinguished from their real organism, and their real interests, their notions and their reality.”
The workers must unite among themselves against exploitation, but they must also unite with the rest of the other revolutionary forces to complete the national democratic revolution, whose basic programme is the Freedom Charter. Our liberation alliance remains the best suited and most capable political organisation of our society to take forward this complex struggle.
Let us remember, as we are gathered here today, that the international economic crisis is not over!
A recent fall in Chinese stock market culminated in a big meltdown when we convened in Soweto in July during our SACP Special National Congress. On the opening day of our congress, 8 July, The Daily Mail in the UK reported that: “Almost $3 trillion (£2trn) – more than the entire economic output of Brazil – has been wiped out since markets went into reverse just a few weeks ago, posing a bigger headache for many global investors than even the Greek debt crisis”. Let us recall that $3 equals to R39 at one of the dollar-rand exchange rate of R13 excluding additional cents.
More has been lost since then.
The Chinese economy is South Africa’s trading partner of note. Production slowdown in China, coupled with persistent crisis in Europe, has had a negative impact on the export of our raw materials, especially mining resources since the basic structure of our economy has not been fundamentally transformed. The resource boom has bust, and the prices of mineral resources have plummeted. All of this combined with other factors in the ongoing international economic crisis have impacted on the rand and many other currencies to the extent they have fallen drastically to low levels last seen a decade ago.
With our economy still resource dependent, major crisis often announces itself through the mining sector. Mining bosses have reacted to the crisis by announcing intentions to retrench thousands of workers. Next to mining bosses, they have been joined in this looming jobs bloodbath by steel bosses who also announced intentions to retrench thousands of workers.
Let us emphasise our message, workers need to maximise unity in the face of this onslaught and all other offensives by the capitalist class. Let us remember what Cosatu has said and says everyday: “An injury to one is an injury to all”. Workers need to stand together regardless of the sectors of the economy in which they are employed!
That is why, as the SACP, we say:
Workers unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!
Let us unite in defence of our plight!
Let us unite to push forward the second, more radical phase of our democratic transition!
Without the unity of the workers, the unity of the working class, our revolution will discourage!
The industrialisation we seek to achieve as one of the strategic tasks of the second, more radical phase of our transition, to create jobs and reduce inequality, will not be achieved!
Let me for and on behalf of the SACP and our ever growing membership wish you fruitful deliberations and a very successful congress of our municipal workers!
For in your success lies our vested interest as the Communist! We have no separate interests of our own except your success!!!
Our struggle is not a narrow national struggle!
It is an international struggle!
We also want to use this opportunity to call on you to express your solidarity with the Kurdish people who are facing merciless attacks by the hawkish Turkish government led by Erdogan. Turkey is indiscriminately killing innocent civilians, women and children, and burning their homes in villages.
The South African government must condemn these senseless attacks.
We should equally commend the peace talks in South Sudan and encourage our comrades to lay down arms and embrace one another and build a prosperous South Sudan.
The SACP says,
Workers of the world unit! You have nothing to lose but your chains!
Long live SAMWU!
Down with Capitalsim!
Forward with Socialism!