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No to terror! No to imperialist intervention!
Solidarity with the working class and poor people of Somalia
By Mametlwe Sebei, Executive Committee
The horrifying carnage of the bomb blast in Somalia resulted in the tragic loss of more than 300 lives, maiming and terrible injuries of hundred more and massive destruction of the already ruined infrastructure of the capital city, Mogadishu. The Workers and Socialist Party condemns this barbaric attack in the strongest possible words and holds its perpetrators with the extreme contempt they deserve.
As we mourn with the families, friends and people of Somalia for their painful losses, we should, however, never lose sight of the fact that these barbaric attacks and the terrorism of Al-Shabaab are not a natural disaster nor do they fall from a clear blue sky.
The barbarism of religious terrorism flows directly from the horrendous living conditions of the masses in the colonial world, of decaying capitalism, deepening economic crisis and the disastrous policies of imperialism in the Middle-East, North Africa and Horn of Africa in particular. This becomes all the more important to remember, particularly with the expected outpouring of ‘crocodile tears’ from imperialism, which will try to present itself as a genuine friend of Somalia. In reality they will want to exploit the legitimate outrage of the Somali people to further the very same imperialist ambitions and interests that created the present anarchy and terrorism.
WASP calls for vigilance by the people of Somalia and Africa not to allow this tragedy to be exploited for military adventures in the Horn of Africa under the false pretext of a ‘war on terror’, which, as the horrific, ‘collateral damage’ of US, NATO and Russian interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria shows, simply entails complimenting the primitive terrorism of these backward religious fanatics with terror on an industrial scale – daily massacres of civilians by the technologically advanced bombardment of imperialist armies.
The intractable problems of Somalia can only be solved by an organised, democratic mass movement of the working class armed with a clear socialist and internationalist programme that can cut across religious sectarianism, effectively combat violent terrorism and offer disgruntled young people attracted to Islamic fundamentalism a progressive revolutionary alternative to a failed bourgeois state, primitive ecclesiastic feudalism or warlordism.
On the basis of the workers and urban poor of Mogadishu and the ruthlessly exploited peasants and impoverished rural masses of Somalia it is possible to build this movement. WASP pledges its solidarity with the forces willing to build this movement here in South Africa and other countries where many Somali refugees have come to escape the violence of their homeland.
In the meantime we continue to call on the working class of the world to support, in every way they can, efforts to alleviate the conditions of the people of Somalia, welcome those that are in their countries who were forced to flee this violence and defend them against reactionary anti-immigrant sentiments and xenophobic attacks such as we have done in the marvellous interventions of the Coalition Against Xenophobia here in SA at the start of the year.
Ultimately, it is only on the basis of the united mass movement of the working class and poor people of Africa and the world that we can build a just and prosperous world free of inequality, violence and poverty – the conditions that create barbarism. For us, in WASP and the CWI, this world is a Socialist Africa and World. The tragic events in Mogadishu are not a cause only for mourning and weeping. Nor does it warrant cynicism and demoralisation. It is a cruel, painful reminder to multiply our efforts and energy to fight for this socialist world because the only other alternative is deepening barbarism under capitalism.
See our 2015 article The Garissa Masacre, Al-Shabaab and US Imperialism for more analysis and background on the legacy of imperialism in the Horn of Africa that created the conditions for the rise of Al-Shabaab.
By Weizmann Hamilton, Executive Committee
Zuma’s cabinet reshuffle – his twelfth in eight years – underlines the depth of the ANC’s crisis. Carried out a mere 58 days ahead of the most important elective conference in the ANC’s history, Zuma’s move has a number of inter-related objectives: firstly to strengthen his faction. The axing of Nzimande is aimed at silencing dissent from within cabinet as he nears the end of his term as party president in the hope that this will increase the prospects of his anointed successor, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. The need for immunity from prosecution has become absolutely imperative now that the Supreme Court of Appeals has effectively reinstated the corruption charges he has evaded for eight years.
Secondly it is to the secure factional loyalty through the eye-watering patronage that can be dispensed by the trillion rand nuclear deal with Russia. New Energy Minister David Mahlobo was sent to Russia in the company of two convicted criminals-turned politicians, Gayton McKenzie and Kenny Kunene, in advance of the reshuffle. The decision to replace one loyalist with another, Mmamoloko Kubyai for David Mahlobo, derives from the fact that the former took the Western Cape High Court judgment that the nuclear deal was unconstitutional, too seriously. Mahlobo, who claimed he knew about the Vuwani uprising a year in advance but did nothing, and who visited a brothel owned by a rhino-poacher whilst State Security minister, has no such qualms.
Thirdly the appointment of little-known Mpumalanga ANC leader Bongani Bongo to replace Mahlobo as State Security Minister is to ensure simultaneously continuity of that ministry’s strategic objective – to ward off attempts at “regime change” – as well as to serve as a sop to Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza who now commands the second biggest provincial delegation to the December elective conference.
However much Zuma may delude himself that he is flexing his muscles to demonstrate the ascendancy of his faction, that this has occurred barely two months before the ANC elective conference, lends to his manoeuvers an air of desperation – the action of a man whose grip is weakening by the day uncertain about the outcome of the ANC conference to which his personal fate is tied.
That this will accelerate the erosion of the ANC’s political credibility even further will be clear to all but his most obsequious sycophants. Far from enhancing the ANC’s 2019 electoral prospects, it will bring the continent’s oldest liberation movement closer to the 50% water-mark below which it will it no longer be able to form a government on its own. But even this requires the ANC to go into the election as a single, albeit divided, entity.
This is no longer guaranteed. Rumours that he plans to depose Ramaphosa as deputy president (possibly by utilizing the vacancy left by the redeployment of Buti Manamela to Higher Education to appoint Dlamini-Zuma, already sworn in as an MP, through another reshuffle) will almost certainly result in the split. The outlines of such a split are becoming more pronounced, especially given the “lawfare” for control of delegates that is now wracking the ANC’s provinces.
The biggest casualty of Zuma’s wrecking ball, which has now all but buried the Tripartite Alliance, is the SACP. The axing of its general secretary Blade Nzimande who was not even the shown the courtesy of being informed in advance, is no less humiliating for having been expected. The SACP has been richly rewarded for keeping Zuma in power during the “No Confidence” debate when a handful of SACP MPs could have breaking the ANC whip could have forced him to face corruption charges.
The SACP is now sitting on the horns of a painful dilemma: to carry out the threat first made in the context of Pravin Gordhan’s impending dismissal – to resign en bloc or to stay. Just as Zuma’s last reshuffle was calculated to divide the SACP by selective dismissals of its leaders, the redeployment of Young Communist League leader Buti Manamela to the post of deputy Higher Education – where he will preside over a R30 billion Seta budget – is a calculated insult designed to take advantage of the reported tensions between leaders of the mother body, who only yesterday dismissed the Nkandla scandal as “white peoples’ lies” and of its youth wing.
Any self-respecting party of any ideological hue would resign from their posts en bloc. But the SACP is imprisoned by its ideological bankruptcy and betrayals of the working class they claimed to be the vanguard of for virtually its entire history. Should SACP MPs remain in their posts it will destroy the last vestiges of credibility of a party whose record in the most important conflict between the classes post-Apartheid, is soaked in the blood of the martyrs of Marikana whose uprising their then deputy general secretary Jeremy Cronin condemned as inspired by a “Pondoland vigilante mafia” and whose preferred candidate for the succession to the presidency, is none other than the butcher of Marikana himself – Cyril Ramaphosa.
The SACP is facing a richly deserved political extinction as is it torn apart by a rebellion from a rank-and-file, whose fury was contained at its June conference only by the accession of Solly Mapaila as deputy general secretary, for whom continued participation in this rotten corrupt ANC capitalist government has now surely become intolerable, and a leadership in whose DNA reformism – inherent in which is betrayal — is embedded. This will be the central question at the special congress the leadership has committed to convening should NDZ emerge at the ANC December conference. Should it leave it would finally realise their worst nightmare – that it has a programme no different from the ANC’s and will be faced with possible electoral oblivion.
Damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t, the SACP faces the choice of death by asphyxiation inside Zuma’s cabinet or from exposure outside it. Such is the cruelty of history – the SACP’s fate has been determined by the insolence of the president they helped to bring to power. What an irony it is that it will take the victory of the Butcher of Marikana to provide the SACP with the pretext to remain at their posts as warders of the Tripartite Alliance political prison out of which the birth of Saftu represents a mass break-out.
However, even as Zuma tightens the noose around the neck of the SACP, he cannot be certain that he has saved his own. On the contrary, so repugnant are his actions and so obviously self-serving, they pose afresh the question of the completion of his term as the country’s president after the December conference – as the reappearance of two centers of power makes its reappearance if Ramaphosa wins.
NDZ herself will wonder how she can go into the election campaign with the albatross of a discredited president at the helm of government and hope to keep the ANC above the 50% water mark. A deal may well have to be made for Zuma to step down, NDZ installed as acting president if she wins, and an immunity from prosecution granted to Zuma before the NPA is forced to prosecute by court action or a private prosecution is initiated.
For the working class, the ANC’s neoliberal capitalist policies will continue regardless of whether it is led by the devil or Satan. A victory for a weakened ANC is not outside the realm of possibility. More likely there will be a pro-capitalist coalition government of a weakened ANC, a split-off from it together with the DA, UDM and the EFF in what may well be a second edition of the short-lived “Government of National Unity” that ushered in the new democracy.
The necessity for a mass workers party on a socialist programme is now an even greater necessity. It is what it owed to the martyrs of Marikana whose heroic uprising was the epicentre of the earthquake that separated post-Apartheid SA into two epochs – the first of its incarceration in the class collaborationist trap the ANC, SACP and Cosatu leadership led them into, and the second the reclamation of its class and political independence the political uprising of the Marikana workers set the course for. Saftu must throw its full weight and all its resources into the creation of such a party to unite organised workers, communities and the youth into a struggle or the abolition of capitalism and the socialist transformation of society.
Women’s month tarnished by ANC Minister:
by Ferron Pedro, National Committee
Three days before South Africans would celebrate National Women’s Day, a video showing Deputy Minister of Higher Education Mduduzi Manana physically assaulting a woman outside of a nightclub, went viral. Soon photos of the woman’s scars and bruises as well as a recording of Manana admitting to the assault also went viral. The evidence of his guilt was overwhelming and there were widespread calls for his immediate arrest as well as suspension from his position.
The next day Manana released a statement admitting his guilt and apologising to the victim. Reports explain that he, along with other accomplices, attacked two women, pulling their hair, throwing them on the ground, slapping, punching and kicking them. Manana was charged with two counts of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and handed himself over to the police four days later. The reason he didn’t immediately hand himself over to the police is unknown. He appeared in magistrate’s court and was released on R5,000 bail but retained his cabinet position for another two weeks.
After overwhelming public pressure, including a women’s advocacy group threatening the president with legal action if he was not dismissed, Manana was reportedly given the choice to resign or be dismissed. He chose to resign from his cabinet position and was thanked by the president for his service during his term. He still retains his seat in parliament. The response by the ANC government was insufficient considering the crisis of gender-based violence in South Africa.
Male violence against women is a key feature of the patriarchy of class society, where men hold power and authority over women. When a man’s power or dominance is challenged in a patriarchal society, men often use their physical strength to punish women and control their behaviour. Manana’s attempt at explaining his behaviour shows this clearly when he says, “Regardless of the extreme provocation‚ I should have exercised restraint. That shameful incident should not have happened. I know that my actions and those of the people in my company have disappointed and hurt many people in the country. As a leader, I should have known better and acted better.” Manana tries to justify his behaviour by saying that the women he assaulted was provoking him and that it was difficult for him not to retaliate in a violent manner.
For Manana, if a woman challenges him, it is natural to punish her using his physical strength. As a ‘leader’, he made a mistake by not exercising restraint. In order to challenge this system and this idea of the role of men in society, leadership and prominent people in society can play an important role in moving society closer towards equality and freedom for women. Leaders in the ANC leadership have consistently failed at this task.
Besides the controversial allegations of rape against Jacob Zuma for which he has been acquitted, he has in many ways supported a culture of sexism in the ANC and in the country with sexist statements. He has said, “When men compliment you innocently, you say it’s harassment,” downplaying the real issue of sexual harassment women face daily and saying that women should be complimented by unwanted attention. He has also said that unmarried women are a problem in society and that, “Kids are important to a woman because they actually give an extra training to a woman, to be a mother,” giving no thought to a woman’s freedom to choose whether she wants to be married or have children. He was reprimanded for this statement by the Commission of Gender Equality.
The lack of leadership with regard to women’s freedoms is tragic because South Africa is a patriarchal society that faces a serious crisis of violence against women. According to a recent study by StatsSA and the MRC, 1 in 5 women, over the ages of 18, report they have experienced physical violence at the hands of their partner. The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation reports that three women die at the hands of their intimate partner every day. Violence against women is an extreme expression of the kind of sexism expressed by Jacob Zuma and other leaders in the ANC. Women face oppression in the workplace, with higher rates of unemployment as well as lower wages than men. Women face oppression at home with the bulk of unpaid household work falling on women’s shoulders, whether they work outside the home or not. Women face oppression in society as a whole, often seen as existing only to fulfil whatever role men want them to fulfil and are pressured to depend on men and follow their lead.
But this is not a ‘natural’ way for men and women to be. It is only as a result of class society that women came to be seen as inferior to men and dependent on men. It is our task to build a new kind of society where we can overcome the inequality between men and women encouraged by capitalist society. Unity of working class men and women and all oppressed groups is the only route towards a socialist society creating the conditions to end women’s oppression once and for all!
Build worker-control to struggle for jobs
by Mamtelwe Sebei, Executive Committee
The Mail & Guardian’s damning report of brutal purges of former mineworkers-committee members, who heroically led the 2012 mineworkers’ strikes, by AMCU’s leadership, confirms the perspectives and warnings which WASP alone made long ago. None of the shocking charges laid against the AMCU leadership comes as a surprise to us nor is this an unexpected turn of events. The degeneration of the AMCU leadership into a violent authoritarian clique flows directly from their theoretical bankruptcy and political impotence in the face of the crisis of the mining industry. They neither understand this crisis nor have an answer to its devastating consequences on the workers, their families and their communities. In spite of all the threats against the mine bosses from AMCU president, Joseph Mathunjwa, there has been absolutely nothing by way of a serious response to the closures of mines, loss of jobs and the wreaking of collective agreements.
It would be unfair to accuse, without evidence, the AMCU leadership of involvement in the assassinations currently taking place. But understandably suspicions have been raised against the leadership in the light of the disturbing patterns in the assassinations. They seem directed against anyone opposed to the union leadership. This is not enough to make definitive conclusions of criminal responsibility, but the AMCU leadership cannot be absolved from the political responsibility for the brutal factional war raging in the ranks of their union.
The factional struggle that appears to be behind the killings emanates not only from their backward political ideas and grovelling for ‘acceptance’ by the mining bosses. This is itself a product of their dismal failure to unify mineworkers behind a clear fighting strategy and political programme of the kind we have argued for since 2012. This is notwithstanding the five month platinum wage strike of 2014. This strike took place little more than a year after the 2012 strikes and before Mathunjwa and his clique had consolidated their position. That the struggle took place under the banner of AMCU was not a reflection of the militancy or farsightedness of Mathunjwa’s leadership, despite many on the left making the mistake of thinking so, but was driven by a feeling of ‘unfinished business’ amongst mineworkers, that it would have been impossible for Mathunjwa to stand in the way of. But even here, Mathunjwa’s role was to dampen militancy. In his endless media appearances the former prominent demand for mine nationalisation under democratic worker control was now gone as was the mineworkers’ support for the building of a mass workers’ party – this despite national elections being only months away.
The lack of a decisive lead since, not only confirms this analysis, but has unfortunately demoralised AMCU members and sown the seeds of factional hostilities between workers’ leaders divided over the paralysis of the union. The political responsibility of the AMCU leadership for the present atmosphere lies directly on their habit of inciting witch-hunts against worker militants opposed to their disastrous policies and authoritarian rule.
Starting with an AMCU rally at the end of the 2012 strikes, Mathunjwa has consistently abused platforms in mass meetings to publicly defame respected workers leaders. It has become customary for him to use mass meetings and rallies for his pseudo-religious rantings and demagogic denunciations, without debate and opportunity to reply, of workers who dare to question his leadership and political incompetence to guide the workers on the most fundamental questions of strategy and programme.
From the moment AMCU secured a mass base in Rustenburg its members have been faced with job losses, restructuring and mine closures and victimisation of activists. The bosses have strived to co-opt AMCU, the same way they co-opted NUM before it, into assisting in the maintenance of the horrendous migrant labour regime, with its slave-conditions for black mineworkers. In spite of all this belligerence from the mining bosses, nothing has been forth-coming from AMCU leadership, by way of clear fighting strategy, trade union education and adequate support to guide workers in their life and death struggle with the most politically cunning section of the capitalist class.
Mathunjwa has openly denounced and prohibited contact with any socialist and left activists including the Democratic Socialist Movement (forerunner of WASP), which along with democratically elected strike-committees provided strategic leadership, active political solidarity and vital technical support to 2012 mineworkers’ strikes. Along with this, and precisely to cover-up his political betrayal, Mathunjwa has embraced right-wing parties, including those funded by mine-bosses, such as the likes of the DA.
Such political ‘direction’ as Mathunjwa has provided for the mineworkers, whose rebellion on the platinum belt was far more than a strike against slave wages and conditions but a political uprising against the entire political establishment, far from taking workers forward, as DSM in collaboration with the national strike committee sought to with the launch of WASP, appears to be motivated by tribal considerations. Platforms have also been given to the UDM and APC which can fuel tribal divisions and in turn crippling, violent factionalism. Recent commemorations of the Marikana massacre have become platforms for these anti-working class bourgeois politicians as well as the Lonmin bosses to justify their criminal complicity in the massacre. This is both symptomatic of this right-ward political shift and an insult to the memory of the immortal 16 August martyrs.
WASP is calling for the revival and organisation of rank-and-file committees to reclaim their organisations and build them on workers control, struggle and socialism as the only viable alternative to the crisis of South African mining and world capitalism. As we have said before, it is only a democratic, worker-controlled and fighting trade union movement in the mining industry that can unify workers for a fightback against job losses and for decent conditions of work and life in mining-affected communities.