now browsing by month
Four months into the AMCU-led strike in South Africa’s three giant platinum producers, with the bosses, the government and the ruling party and its allies attempting to move in for the kill as the mineworkers are now taking serious strain, many working class people in South Africa and internationally are asking themselves how they can support the workers.
A strike is not just a test of strength between the workers and the employer, but also a battle for the hearts and minds of the public. The fighting strategy in any strike should not only maximise harm to the business of the employer in the shortest possible space of time but also raise the pressure on the employer, the capitalist class as a whole and the government.
For the Workers and Socialist Party (WASP), the most decisive support we can offer is political – mobilising for trade union solidarity action, as well as for support from other workers and communities and from working class people across the country and beyond. WASP is therefore campaigning for a general strike to be called in defence of the platinum workers. We are lobbying NUMSA members, for example, to work to make NUMSA’s offer of solidarity action reality. WASP is working to urgently raise money to support this work and the building of a genuine socialist party rooted in the working class which is critical to the struggles not only of the mineworkers but of the working class as a whole.
With the platinum workers having held out so long without pay, and workers and their families suffering actual starvation, support in the form of food for the day and boosting a strike fund that should be able to provide the strikers with some form of income is also important. WASP applauds AMCU’s initiative to launch a strike fund. Besides providing relief to the workers, the fund could also be an important tool for the rallying of support within mining- and other communities, with other workers and working class organisations. WASP advocates for trade unions to prepare for strikes by using membership fees to build up strike funds, and to account to the members by reporting regularly to workers on fundraising efforts as well as subject the use of the funds to workers’ democratic decision-making.
Victory or defeat in the platinum battle is decisive not only for the workers on strike but for the whole of society. If the bosses, and their line managers in government, succeed in crushing the workers’ heroic struggle they would be emboldened in pushing ahead with further assaults on the working class, such as the attacks on the right to strike in the public sector and the whole National Development Plan-project while it could throw back working class self-confidence and struggles for a long time to come. If the workers win – even if not the full R12 500 – that would on the other hand strengthen the struggle for a living wage and generally steel the determination of workers, the youth and the unemployed to fight for a greater share of SA’s vast wealth.
WASP has therefore decided to make an extraordinary appeal for support for the platinum strike. We urge all those in support of the strike who have anything to contribute to make money donations to the AMCU strike fund. The details are:
AMCU Strike Fund, Standard Bank, Account Number: 332 748 634, Branch code: 052750
Please use the reference ‘WASP’ when depositing or transferring.
The latest chapter in the concerted strike-breaking efforts by the anti-worker troika – the mining bosses, the state and the ruling party – is the accusation that the Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) is behind the intimidation and violence linked to the now four-month-long platinum strike. These allegations – as reckless as they are unfounded – were levelled against WASP live on SA FM radio by the South African ‘Communist’ Party’s Solly Mapaila. He was supported by ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, who called into the show. (Mantashe was last year leading the charge against leading WASP member Liv Shange whom he claimed was responsible for the so-called anarchy on the mines.)
This is in line with last week’s claims by the North West police department that ‘political parties’ were fueling strike violence, as well as information WASP has received that the government’s security cluster is holding WASP responsible for intimidation and violence linked to the ongoing platinum strike.
It is clear that the ANC government and the mining bosses, with state forces at their disposal, as soon as the elections were out of the way set in motion a plan to break what is now the longest-ever strike in SA’s democratic history. The media has let a torrent of criticism rain down on the strikers and their union, AMCU, for the hardships they and their families go through four months into ‘no work – no pay’ as well as for allegedly being responsible for the harm their action is said to be causing what is hypocritically referred to as ‘our’ economy
With President Zuma adding to the media howl against the strikers by denouncing the mineworkers’ trade union AMCU as ‘irresponsible’, the three platinum giants – Lonmin, Amplats and Impala Platinum – moved onto a new strike breaking offensive with an sms campaign to ‘assess workers’ willingness to come back to work’. Lonmin immediately after the elections announced its police-supported plan to break the strike (which is protected under SA law). A few days before the planned ‘mass return’ on May 14, four people – three Lonmin workers and the wife of one of the workers – were killed in Marikana. This was quickly labelled strike violence, and followed by assurances by the Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, that SAPS presence in the area would be dramatically stepped up to protect workers returning to work.
The ‘law and order’ regime that has since been imposed on the area is not dissimilar to the virtual local state of emergency instituted in the run up to the Marikana massacre and afterwards. The head of the SAPS’ Independent Complaints Directorate has even warned that he hopes that the police will not be ‘forced’ to fire on workers this time. In a clearly coordinated campaign, the Minister and the National Commissioner of Police, Riah Phiyega, held a press conference in Marikana on the day of the supposed grand opening of the Lonmin shafts. While they proudly held up 5000 arrests made in the area since the August 2012 police massacre on striking workers as evidence that they were ‘not afraid to act’ (against workers), the ‘mass return’ was an abject failure.
At the same time the police in the North West province circulated the claim that ‘political parties’ were behind the strike violence, and WASP was informed by journalists that the state ‘security cluster’ was holding the party responsible for the intimidation of strike-breakers. It is hardly a coincidence that the police’s claims are now echoed by the ANC and its ally the SACP, which have grown increasingly inseparable from the state machinery. The apparent effort by the SACP to step in as the storm troopers for the bosses and the capitalist state is a sign of the government’s sense of alarm over the growing public support for the workers and outrage at the insolence of the bosses – e.g. the Amplats bosses who just rewarded themselves bonuses of R76.4m – and the government’s collaboration with them. As in 2012, when the SACP denounced the Lonmin-workers’ independent action not as a strike but a criminal campaign orchestrated by a ‘Pondoland vigilante mafia’, it is these so-called communists’ job to ensure the strike is defeated.
The first target for the generals of the propaganda war against the strike is, as always, the truth: support for the strike must be equaled with support for killing strike-breakers. The truth is, of course, that WASP has consistently supported the mineworkers’ struggle for a R12 500 living wage while we have as consistently opposed and worked against intimidation and violence as methods of the struggle. While it has not been proven that the recent murders in Marikana are actual cases of strikers killing strike breakers, this is a common tactic in SA – one which the ANC- and SACP-aligned NUM, not least, has allowed to set root. Throughout the involvement of WASP and its founder, the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), in workers’ struggles we have fought against this misguided method as it only furthers division amongst workers and invites police and other state repression. Instead, as in the case of this strike, WASP calls for maximising the efficiency of the struggle for a living wage by calling on AMCU to mobilise the support of all its members, local communities and of all mineworkers and of workers in other sectors – the workers’ movement at large – with the appeal for a general strike for R12 500 and for the use of the mining wealth to eradicate unemployment and poverty. This is the kind of strategy that has the power to sustain the struggle – and that is the real threat which the ‘troika’ wants to break.
WASP secured a right of reply on SA FM – you can listen to the interview with WASP’s Liv Shange here.
No to the mining bosses’ strike-breaking offensive! No to worker-on-worker violence – unite in mobilising for a general strike for R12 500!
The Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) condemns the strike-breaking offensive launched by Lonmin this week and calls on workers in the platinum sector to counter the employers’ divide-and-rule tactics by rallying the support of all mineworkers, poor communities and workers across South Africa behind their demand for a R12 500 living wage. It is clear that the platinum bosses, with Lonmin at the head, with the full backing of the government are attempting to deal the strike a mortal blow this week. Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has made clear that the government is, once again, availing its police to serve the mining bosses against the workers. A state of emergency in all but name is likely to be unleashed on Marikana in particular as from tomorrow to back up the divisive attempts by Lonmin, soon to be followed by Impala Platinum and Amplats, to effect what they call a ‘mass return’ to work tomorrow (Wednesday May 14).
WASP also condemns the assault and murder of strike-breakers. Since Sunday, at least three Lonmin workers have reportedly been murdered and several others assaulted. Whether these acts are the work of striking workers or agents provocateurs out to provide the justification for a police clamp-down, they express the tragic division of workers which serves only the bosses. The strength of the strike can only be secured through genuine workers’ unity, which must be based on democratic workers’ control over the strike and clear direction. This, again, is the only basis on which the R12 500 demand can be won. Since the beginning of this strike, WASP has warned of the danger of division and called on AMCU to mobilise the support of all mineworkers and mining communities along with workers and working class communities across SA. A general strike is what is posed if we are to defeat the mining bosses.
They are hell-bent on defeating this strike – but not because they “cannot afford” the R12 500. According to the Labour Research Service, the average annual profit of just nine of the major mining companies was R39 billion in 2011 – enough to pay each mineworker R88 000 a month, or to increase the mining workforce times four, creating jobs for 2.3 million workers, on R12 500 a month. Amplats just rewarded its CEO Chris Griffith with R4m bonus, to mention one example of the obscene riches of the preachers of poverty.
As Lonmin CEO Ben Magara told media at a press conference on Monday, the problem with the R12 500 is that “we’d be setting a precedent if we accede to the demand”. The mining industry, the backbone of the SA economy, is built on ultra-cheap labour and massive profit margins as well as total disregard for the environment and the development of the wider economy and society. They are prepared to use every trick in the book not to rock that boat. To give in to the AMCU-led workers would also be a serious political set-back for the bosses and the government – they are out to kill not only this strike, but the very idea that workers’ mass action has the power to force meaningful concessions out of them.
WASP applauds AMCU’s decision to set up a strike fund. However, for the fund to be effective in sustaining the unity and determination of the strike, it needs a serious cash injection that can be paid out to the tens of thousands of workers who are taking strain after almost four months without pay. We call on AMCU to use the funds accumulated through the membership fees of its over 100 000 members to sustain the striking workers.
WASP was formed by mineworkers’ strike committees together with the Democratic Socialist Movement, which played a key role along with the strike committees in leading the strike wave which followed the Marikana massacre in 2012. WASP contested the elections that took place last week as one of the means by which to build a new political party for workers and poor people. Although we did not get enough votes to win a seat, we are determined to continue the battle to build a party that can unite the working class under the banner of struggle and socialism. WASP stood in the elections on the R12 500 demand as well as on the struggle for the nationalisation of the whole mining industry under democratic control by workers and communities, linking these issues to the need to overthrow the capitalist system and create a socialist society.
WASP stands for building strong, worker-controlled and fighting trade unions. We do not support the ‘WAU’, which we believe is a creation of the bosses and the government to divide and confuse workers. We have concerns over issues such as corruption, democratic workers’ control and fighting strategy when it comes to the AMCU leadership but we urge all AMCU members to stay inside AMCU and organise to investigate and correct any such wrongs. In particular, we cannot afford division when faced with a major battle such as this strike. It is precisely for that reason, however, that we must defend democratic and free discussion and engagements within the union and allow all the best fighters to play a part in taking the struggle forward.
The African National Congress has been re-elected with 62% of the vote. This represents a marginal decline with the shedding of a few hundred thousand votes in absolute terms and the loss of 3.5%. Given the scandal filled five-year term of president Zuma, not least of all the Marikana massacre and Nkandla-gate, ANC strategists must nevertheless be breathing a sigh of relief. However, this “good story” hides the reality that the ANC has continued to shed significant support. Over ten million eligible voters did not register to vote and a further six million were registered but did not turn out. In other words 16 million did not take part in this election. The corresponding figures in 2004 and 2009 were 12 million and 12.4 million respectively. The ANC is in reality a minority government about to resume office with the votes of just eleven million people, barely 32%.
The ANC did not approach this election with the same complacency displayed in 2004 and 2009. They have belatedly realised that their dominance – particularly amongst the working class and poor – cannot be taken for granted. The ANC election machine was oiled and put into high gear. Whilst there has been no widespread or outright corruption, that does not mean the ANC has ‘played fair’ in this election campaign. The ANC intentionally conflates their role as a political party and their control of the government social services apparatus. There was a large increase in the budget for food parcels to the poorest in the months running up the election, the recipients of which were of course told it was a gift from the ANC not that it was paid for by taxpayers money. The 12 million in receipt of social grants – pensions, disability payments and childcare – are regularly told that it is paid to them ‘by the ANC’. Even more outrageously, the lie that the hated racist segregation system of apartheid would be brought back should the ANC lose is propagated. The vote for the ANC also reflected the reserves the movement has – especially amongst an older layer. Many would not have voted for Zuma but for the “party” of liberation which ended apartheid.
Further, the ANC’s patronage network has been deployed to full effect. The state broadcaster SABC pulled two TV commercials by the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) at the last minute on the spurious grounds that they would “incite violence”. At voting stations on election day there were reports that the ANC was distributing free food and t-shirts as a last minute bribe to the poor and desperate. In South Africa, vast sums of money are spent on elections yet there are no rules on the disclosure of party finances. We can safely assume that significant sections of the capitalist class poured vast sums into the ANC’s campaign. The ANC leadership is in reality an executive committee of the new black capitalist class. On the ANC National Executive Committee, over 50% of its members are company directors and a third are directors of more than one company with over 1 in 10 holding five directorships or more. Further, 72% of ANC NEC members own shares, 50% own shares in more than one company and 18% own shares in more than five companies. Fifteen members of the Zuma family are involved in a staggering 134 companies, 83 of which were set up after Jacob Zuma became president. Deputy-president of the ANC, Cyril Ramaphosa has wealth estimated at over R6 billion.
Against this behemoth, the Workers and Socialist Party embraced the enormous challenge of organising a general election campaign before we had even reached our first anniversary. We are of course disappointed in the low vote, which was below our expectations. We received of a little over 8,000 (0.05%). However, the low vote cannot erase the enormous strides that WASP has taken in its short existence in establishing key points of support amongst the working class. Our vote may have been low but it represented the most class conscious sections of the workers. We have already received phone calls from mineworker shop stewards and factory workers reassuring the WASP leadership and encouraging them to continue the task of building ‘our’ party.
The scarcity of resources for the campaign was a fundamental problem. The struggle to raise the finances to pay the enormous election deposits meant that we spent over a month without a cent as we launched the second phase of fundraising for election material and a campaign fund. There is no doubt that if we had had the resources to reach more people our vote would have been higher. In addition, early in the year, the media decided on their narrative – this election was a three horse race between the ANC, DA and EFF. WASP was in reality excluded from serious press coverage. The press did not even cover our manifesto launch. However, they covered the launch of the tiny religious ‘Kingdom Governance Movement’ which received less votes than WASP.
But there are other important political factors to take account of. Unfortunately, WASP has not been able to consolidate our position amongst the mineworkers. Despite the crucial role of the founders of WASP – the Democratic Socialist Movement – in the move of the majority of mineworkers from the treacherous ANC aligned National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) to the previously marginal Association of Mining and Construction Workers (AMCU), the AMCU leadership has done everything to remove our influence among the mineworkers. DSM and WASP members and supporters have been victimised and expelled from the union, frequently leading to the loss of their jobs. The new Workers Association Union (WAU) has attempted to take advantage of demoralisation among sections of the mineworkers in what is now a three month long wage strike in the platinum sector. The lie has been spread by the AMCU leadership, disgracefully encouraged by tiny jealous forces on ‘the left’, that WASP is behind this scab union. Thus, combined with the hostility from the AMCU leadership, and the understandable ‘closing of ranks’ by the mineworkers, in the midst of a life and death strike, WASP found it very hard to even campaign on the platinum belt with some comrades even facing death threats.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), after taking the bold and historic decision in December at a special congress not to campaign for the ANC, unfortunately, failed to develop the position into a positive alternative beyond the promise to found a workers’ party by 2016. For months WASP campaigned to persuade the NUMSA leadership not to miss the historic opportunity that the 2014 elections presented for the establishment of a bridgehead for genuine socialism by trying to secure a handful of seats in parliament. We invited NUMSA to take its place in the leadership of WASP, for NUMSA to present its own candidates for WASP’s election lists and pointed out that this would in fact compliment the democratic decisions of NUMSA members at the special national congress. Unfortunately the NUMSA leadership did not take-up our offer.
Nevertheless WASP established an important base amongst NUMSA members, activists, shop stewards and branch and regional officials in the course of our election campaign. But the lack of a clear call on who to support in this election had an impact on the wider NUMSA membership. Many will have deferred their expectations for a working class alternative until after this election or voted for whatever party seemed best placed to reduce the ANC’s majority. In many cases this will have meant a vote for the EFF, whose advances in this election (see below) will complicate the path towards a mass workers’ party on a socialist programme. Even so, if NUMSA acts swiftly and decisively in the coming weeks to raise the banner for a mass workers’ party on a socialist programme the initiative can be seized back.
The NUMSA leadership’s position was used by the rest of the South African left as an excuse not to back WASP under the cover of ‘supporting NUMSA’. The Democratic Left Front’s leadership – an academic based middle class group – echoed NUMSA and similarly abstained in giving any clear direction to voters, opting to “support those wanting to spoil their ballot paper, save their ballot for a future mass workers’ party and/or vote for anti-capitalist forces as a first step towards the building of an anti-capitalist electoral platform for the 2016 elections”. This grouplet talks of ‘anti-capitalism’ instead of socialism and ‘platforms’ instead of parties! Even then, this weak position was not fully adhered to and conscious attempts were made by the DLF leadership to block their members supporting or campaigning for WASP. Any criticism of WASP’s vote from these arm-chair ‘socialist leaders’ cannot be taken seriously. Even if they do crow about their self-fulfilled prophecy, it will never detract from the bold and heroic role of those who acted rather than stood aside. However, many DLF members overcame the vacillation of their leaders and campaigned for WASP.
The launching of the ‘Vote “No” Campaign’ in mid-April, unfortunately given backing by Ronnie Kasrils and other respected former struggle veterans who have broken from the ANC, took the confused position on the rest of the left to its logical conclusion. This campaign called on voters to either spoil their ballot paper or vote for a ‘small party’, of which there were plenty in this election. WASP engaged with Ronnie Kasrils and warned the ‘Vote “No” Campaign’ that such a call was confusing and would have no effect beyond a shallow ‘moral victory’ as spoiled ballots in fact magnify the weight of votes cast for the ANC and a blanket call for support for small parties would just scatter the vote. Indeed, the number of spoiled ballots in this election was only 0.01% higher than in 2009 and there will in fact be less ‘small parties’ represented in in the incoming National Assembly.
Finally, WASP had serious competition in the form of the Economic Freedom Fighters. The EFF has done quite well and won over a million votes which will translate into nearly 30 MPs not to mention a similar number of MPLs at provincial level. This left-populist party, standing on a left programme of nationalisation and land expropriation made an appeal to the youth and the poor. Its leader, Julius Malema, expelled former leader of the ANC’s youth league, was able to take significant sections of the youth league with him, not to mention connections to the new black elite that years inside the ANC provided, giving the EFF the resources necessary to wage an effective campaign. WASP urges EFF members to be open to discuss the EFF’s programme, the tasks which face the working class now and to examine the role of the EFF leaders as they enter parliament opening themselves to the relentless pressure of the capitalist class.
Last August there were discussions between WASP and the EFF where we proposed forming an electoral bloc and standing joint lists of candidates in order to unite the anti-ANC vote, a key strategic objective. However, as important as that was, the important differences between WASP and EFF on nationalisation, socialism and other issues required that we maintain the right to debate these questions in front of the working class and poor. In the wake of Marikana assisting the working class in achieving political clarity on the tasks necessary for the socialist transformation of society was fundamental. Unfortunately, the EFF rejected our proposal of an electoral block/alliance and demanded the effective liquidation of WASP and closing down of discussion on programmatic and political questions. WASP had no other choice but to stand independently following this response from the EFF leadership.
The EFF has secured an important step forward, but they have not done as well as they had hoped. This was partly the exaggerated expectations EFF leaders sowed amongst their membership, but it also reflects the scepticism of the working class towards the EFF. NUMSA for example, explicitly rejected the EFF at their December special congress due to their failure to call for workers’ control of nationalised industry and their equivocation on the need for socialism. If WASP and EFF had been able to come to a principled agreement, such an electoral bloc could have acted as a bridge to the working class to unite with the EFF’s forces, at least for the sake of giving the ANC a bloody-nose in the 2014 elections. Unfortunately another lost opportunity in this election.
Though we were unable to fill the vacuum to the left of the ANC, the Workers and Socialist Party reaffirms that we were correct to stand in this election. We have played a pioneering role and laid important foundations for the development of a mass workers’ party on a socialist programme. This process will continue and pick up its pace in the next period. We have won crucial points of support for revolutionary socialist ideas amongst the working class, communities and the youth and will consolidate that position in the wake of the elections. We have always said that WASP is first and foremost a party of struggle, and a step towards building a mass workers’ party. We will now turn our attention to campaigning for a mass workers’ party, the uniting of the service delivery protests and the building of a mighty socialist youth movement.
WASP will engage in debate and solidarity in struggle with NUMSA and other forces to take the next steps towards building a mass workers party on a socialist programme in the coming period. The ANC majority in this election is not the end of the process. The new government will face the same social crisis which currently exists. The ANC will be emboldened by its superficial mandate to try and drive through its National Development Plan – rejecting nationalisation and emphasising ‘market solutions’ and deregulation. This means more neo-liberal attacks and class struggle in which WASP will intervene and the necessity to build a mass workers’ party on a socialist programme will be ever more clearly posed.
This article was edited on 2014/05/11
The Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) supports the strike for a living wage of R12 500 a month. We salute the willingness to fight and sacrifice shown over more than three months of strike action. But determination alone does not guarantee victory. To defeat the mining bosses the action needs to be stepped up! WASP calls on AMCU and on all mineworkers to mobilise the active support of all unions in mining as well as in all other sectors with the call for a general strike for R12 500! Support from working class communities must also be rallied.
It’s a lie that R12 500 is ‘not affordable’. SA’s mineral wealth is estimated to R25 trillion! According to the Labour Research Service, the average annual profit of just nine of the major mining companies was R39 billion in 2011 – enough to pay each mineworker R88 000 a month, or to increase the mining workforce times four, creating jobs for 2.3 million workers, on R12 500 a month. The same year the average remuneration of mining CEOs was R20,2 million. It would take the typical mineworker 390 years to earn what his/her boss earns in one year.
The real obstacle to a living wage is capitalism – the private ownership of the means of production and the rule of ‘the market’ and its hunger for profits. Amplats, for example, promises its shareholders a 39% profit margin. It is below this level they claim operations become ‘unviable’. The struggle for a living wage must therefore be linked to the struggle for the nationalisation of the whole mining industry as part of the overthrow of the capitalist system and the creation of a socialist society. This means uniting workers, poor communities and -youth in struggle for the take-over of the mines and other big business under democratic worker and community control. WASP was created by mineworkers’ strike committees and the Democratic Socialist Movement after the strike for R12 500 in 2012 to take these struggles forward.
WASP stands for building strong, worker-controlled and fighting trade unions. We do not support the ‘WAU’, which we believe is a creation of the bosses and the government to divide and confuse workers. We have concerns over issues such as corruption, democratic workers’ control and fighting strategy when it comes to the AMCU leadership but we urge all AMCU members to stay inside AMCU and organise to investigate and correct any such wrongs.
WASP is contesting the election on May 7. Our candidates are mineworkers, working and unemployed activists. If elected, all WASP MPs will continue to live on workers’ wages instead of the R900 000/ year that all other party MPs pocket.
The Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) congratulates Des D’Sa on winning the Goldman Environmental Prize.
We acknowledge Des’ decades-long commitment to the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) and the people of South Durban, that has on occasion resulted in personal risk.
However, despite the heroic efforts of SDCEA the refineries have not been held accountable and the port expansion is going ahead.
It now time to consider new strategies and alliances in this struggle. There must be a political alternative that will take up these issues ignored by other parties.
We therefore call on Des and SDCEA to urge the people of South Durban to vote for WASP as the only party actively campaigning against the Port Expansion.
WASP candidates, if elected, will not be paid more than the wage of a skilled worker e.g. a mechanic or electrician and will be subject to recall. They are ordinary workers and community activists with records of struggle and hard work. WASP MP’s will vigorously defend the interest of the people of South Durban as we are not like other parties indebted to capitalism.
WASP is the only party contesting these elections on a clear socialist programme rooted in day-to-day struggles. We are contesting the elections as one step on the way to build the mass struggles and movements needed to overturn the dictatorship that capital is exercising over people and environment. WASP supports marches, protests, occupations and other actions organised by SDCEA. We are prepared to assist SDCEA wherever needed, for example by organising media campaigns, making posters, and hosting public speakers.
WASP stands for:
- An independent worker and community-led commission to find the best way to develop an integrated port and city: it should prioritise moving freight (containers) to rail and improving the efficiency of existing infrastructure.
- Moratorium (No more) on polluting industry
- The refineries & other big business must pay for destroying our environment and health – enforce meaningful fines for violations, failure to meet regulations must lead to nationalisation and redirection of polluting industry under democratic control by workers and communities; no job losses.
- Rapid redirection of energy generation towards renewable sources such as solar, wind, wave and geothermal power, and biomass power based on waste not food crops; replace fossil fuels with renewable ones; massive programme of creating ‘climate jobs’
- Investment in infrastructure that benefits working class and poor people – for a worker- and community-controlled public works programme building houses, clinics, hospitals, schools, roads, sports and recreational infrastructure.
- Explore using old airport land for non-industrial purposes such as: market, gardening, aquaculture, small craft harbour and marina.
- Keep the major part of Clairwood race course as a green lung – no industry.
The Workers and Socialist Party sends its solidarity and fraternal greetings to all the workers of South Africa, the African continent and the world. WASP stands firmly in the working class tradition of internationalism – workers of the world unite! We send our solidarity to the striking mineworkers on the platinum belt and the striking Numsa members in the Eastern Cape. We send our solidarity to the striking Chinese factory workers and the striking London train drivers and all those workers across the world struggling against the capitalist system.
May Day 2014 comes just days after the twenty year anniversary of democracy and the end of apartheid. This historic victory belongs, first and foremost, to the working class. It was the emergence of the independent trade unions in the 1970s and 1980s that sounded the death knell for apartheid. But the reality is that the working class and poor are still second class citizens in capitalist South Africa. Democracy has brought rights but they mean little to the millions trapped by capitalism in dire poverty. The most basic right – the right to work – it still denied to over seven million who cannot put bread on the table for their families. Next year it will be 60 years since the adoption of the Freedom Charter which demands a 40-hour week and decent work, yet those in work still work an average of 46 hours a week, are employed by labour brokers, as seasonal workers especially on the famers, and permanently as temps in supermarkets.
Less than one week before the general election we see many making a mockery of May Day. The ANC, their supporters in the Cosatu leadership and the SACP are using their rallies and events today to try and channel the hopes and aspirations of workers into political support for their mortal enemy – the capitalist class – at the ballot box next Wednesday. The ANC is not a government representing the working class and poor. Nor is it the leadership of a liberation movement. The ANC NEC is an executive committee of the capitalist class. On the ANC National Executive Committee, over 50% of its members are company directors and a third are directors of more than one company with over 1 in 10 holding five directorships or more. 72% of ANC NEC members own shares, 50% own shares in more than one company and 18% own shares in more than five companies. Fifteen members of the Zuma family are involved in a staggering 134 companies, 83 of which were set up after Jacob Zuma became president.
President Zuma’s friendship with the Gupta family of capitalists is a national embarrassment as is the R 246 million spent on the president’s private residence at Nkandla. Deputy-president of the ANC Cyril Ramaphosa, whose wealth is estimated at over R6 billion was rewarded for his role in the Marikana massacre with the deputy presidency of the ANC. The butcher of Marikana is poised to succeed Zuma as president.
But for the first time in twenty years, the working class and poor have a real working class party they can vote for. WASP is standing in the elections on a genuine socialist manifesto with the demand for nationalisation under working class control at its heart. The wealth of society – created by workers – must be used to raise the living standards of all not just to make profits for the bosses. Our candidates are not the millionaires and business owners of the ANC but working class men and women – workers, trade union activists and shop stewards, youth and community campaigners, entrepreneurs and street traders. A vote for WASP is a vote for placing the genuine voice of the working class in the National Assembly to support the struggles that will take place in the workplaces, communities and institutions of learning.
WASP calls on all workers to celebrate May Day, but to also use today to discuss and organise for the struggles that loom as the position of the South African economy deteriorates and the ANC prepares to roll-out their capitalist manifesto – the National Development Plan. The working class, the poor, communities and the youth must use May Day 2014 to prepare for the task faced by this generation – the building of a mass workers’ party on a socialist programme. Workers of the world unite!