April, 2014

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Vote “No” campaign is no solution to anger with the ANC

The Workers and Socialist Party welcomes the recognition of the comrades launching the ‘Sidikiwe! Vukani! Vote “No” Campaign’ that the ANC is failing the working class and poor. We also appreciate their desire to do something about it. But we disagree with the campaigns founding statement because it does not offer a clear alternative to the ANC or the other capitalist parties.

The comrades themselves acknowledge that staying away from the polls does not hurt the ANC in any way.  WASP has also pointed out repeatedly that seats in parliament are allocated based on the votes actually cast. The best the comrades can hope for is a ‘moral victory’ if they persuade significant numbers to spoil their ballots. But with only three weeks until polling day it looks unlikely they will be able to build up the momentum. But more fundamentally, a ‘spoilt ballot’ campaign has the same effect as a stay-away – these votes are not counted toward seats and so have no effect on the outcome of the election.

But the ‘Vote “No” Campaign’ is not a clear call for a spoilt ballot. It also raises the idea of voting tactically against the ANC and the DA because both party’s economic policies support the current system where “a minority continue to own and control the resources of our country.” In other words, they support the capitalist system.

WASP is the only party representing the interests of the working class and poor in this election. WASP’s manifesto is a clear socialist manifesto that calls for nationalisation, under worker and community control, of the banks, the mines, the commercial farms, the big factories and big businesses. WASP is the only party that clearly steps outside of the present capitalist system.

The danger in the ‘Vote “No” Campaign’s’ position is that those who follow their advice to vote tactically against the ANC and DA will merely use their vote to support other pro-capitalist parties. Even the EFF does not represent a clear call for a break with capitalism or for nationalisation under worker and community control.

May 7 will be just one day, but it is an opportunity to put the voice of the working class and poor into the National Assembly and Provincial Legislatures. If this is not achieved it will be a wasted opportunity to get working class activists elected who could use the Legislatures as platforms to mobilise popular resistance and help build a mass workers’ party. Unfortunately, a “no vote” does not assist the process of building a genuine working class and socialist alternative. It even fosters illusions in the possibility of the ANC being reformed, something that Comrade Kasrils’ courageous decision itself implies is ruled out. Rather, the strategic aim in this election for the working class and poor is to elect a voice for the working class and poor on a clear socialist programme and in so doing begin the process of developing a genuine alternative beyond the election – a mass workers party on a socialist programme. Only a vote for WASP in this election advances that agenda.

Vavi ruling a victory for Cosatu membership!

The Workers and Socialist Party welcomes the ruling of the Johannesburg High Court today overturning the suspension of Zwelinzima Vavi. It is a victory not only for for Vavi, but for Numsa, Cosatu members and the entire working class. The attempt of the pro-ANC leadership around Dlamini and Ntshalintshali to subordinate Cosatu within the Tripartite Alliance has suffered a set-back today. Dlamini and co. have pursued their vendetta against Vavi on behalf of the ANC who sees it as a strategic objective to suffocate the resistance of the organised working class to the ANC’s anti-working class policies. These anti-working class policies will increase as the position of the South African economy continues to deteriorate and the neo-liberal National Development Plan unfolds.

However, WASP warns that the fight is far from over. The Dlamini clique will continue to use bureaucratic measures to silence the democratic voice of Cosatu members. The campaign led by NUMSA calling for Cosatu to convene a special congress must continue with urgency. Dlamini and co. must go! Cosatu belongs to the workers not to the ANC!

WASP’s 2014 election manifesto includes the following demands:

  • No trust in the pro-ANC Cosatu leaders.
  • Support the call of the nine unions calling for a Cosatu Special National Congress – workers must kick out the pro-ANC Cosatu leadership around Dlamini and co
  • If the pro-ANC leaders refuse to call an SNC, the nine unions supporting the call must convene their own conference to play the role that a Cosatu SNC should have played and give a lead to working class struggle
  • Campaign for Cosatu’s immediate withdrawal from the Tripartite Alliance – not a cent more of Cosatu members’ money must be given to the ANC to implement anti-working class policies

Since the crisis in Cosatu around Vavi erupted, we have argued, that in the final analysis it represented a struggle between one faction representing the interests of the capitalist class and one faction representing the interests of the working class. It has all along been a battle for the heart and soul of the federation. The elevation of Cosatu leaders, first to the ANC’s NEC and now as candidates on the ANC’s election lists shows how the ANC wants to absorb Cosatu and turn it into an ANC ‘labour desk’ as NUMSA has so correctly pointed out. Today’s set-back will not deter the pro-ANC Cosatu leaders. In the pursuit of their objectives they would rather split Cosatu and use what is left under their control as a treacherous ‘fifth column’ in the ranks of the working class, mirroring the way the National Union of Mineworkers now operates with its rump in the platinum belt and goldfields.

Tshwane: WASP leads protest of labour broking workers

As Tshwane Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa delivered his State of the City address today Thursday April 3 at a fenced-off, police-guarded red carpet event at the Tshwane City Hall, he was met with hundreds of angry protesters, toyi-toying on the street outside.

The Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) led protesting workers of Capacity labour brokers who came out to remind the Mayor of the City’s broken promises to them. Hundreds of City of Tshwane workers, who have been left unemployed since the City failed to meet its promise to transfer them from labour broking contracts to permanent employment in May 2012 see no other way of raising their plight after almost two years of fruitless engagement with City officials.

The Workers and Socialist Party has supported the City of Tshwane workers’ struggle from the onset. The struggle against labour broking and for permanent jobs on living wages for all is at the centre of WASP’s election manifesto, which was launched in Katlehong over the weekend.

After a series of protests, the City undertook to absorb all the former Capacity workers by April 2013 – again nothing has come out of that promise. With elections imminent, the City has recently showed a renewed interest in the issue and is attempting to silence this persistent struggle by promising the workers ‘job opportunities’ under the Expanded Public Works Programme – which is rejected by the workers with the contempt it deserves.

At the City Hall, the Capacity workers joined street traders who are also protesting against the City’s clamp-down on informal trading. Traders are being forcefully removed from the streets, while the Mayor claims the City has a good relationship with informal traders. Street traders are rightfully outraged that the Metro Police officer they witnessed shooting dead their colleague Foster Rivombo late last year has not even been suspended but is continuing to work the streets of Tshwane.

Residents of The Hill informal settlement in Laudium, who have been struggling for basic services such as electricity and water for the past ten years, also joined the protest.

All organisations were united in their appeal for members not to vote ANC again. The Workers and Socialist Party will continue to bring these constituencies together to mobilise the unified force that is needed to build a truly working-class-led alternative to the ANC.