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Coloured townships explode

by Weizmann Hamilton, Eldorado Park WASP

On 08 May, 2017, simmering resentment at increasingly unbearable social conditions exploded into burning anger in the biggest service delivery protests in Eldorado Park, Gauteng’s largest coloured township, to the south of Johannesburg, since the end of apartheid. Although the looting and violent destruction of property that followed for two days thereafter threatened to overshadow the legitimate grievances that fueled the protests, the overwhelming majority of residents supported them and opposed these actions.

Since then protests have spread across other Gauteng coloured townships including Ennerdale, Lawley, in the south, Westbury and Newclare in the north, Eden Park in the east and Toekomsrus in the west. The social conditions such as those in Eldorado Park – the lack of housing and overcrowding, crime, drugs, domestic violence, abuse of women and children, joblessness and poverty – are common to all of them.

The explosion in coloured townships has attracted attention not so much because service delivery protests are a new phenomenon. Such protests have been taking place in black African townships since 2004. They continue with increasing frequency today – one every second day according to Municipal IQ – with greater intensity and political determination as shown by the uncompromising defiance of Vuwani, Limpopo residents over municipal demarcation. Protests in coloured townships have been met with violent repression as in black African townships which have claimed the lives of several protestors across the country most notoriously teenager Teboho Mkhonza in Intabazwe in north eastern Free State in 2004 and Andries Tatane in Ficksburg in the same province five years later, shot at point blank range by police.

The significance of the coloured township protests lies in the fact that they signal the entry of a section of working class communities for the first time into what at times has acquired the characteristics of a low intensity civil war between the ANC government and working class residents across the country.

In the same way, the #FeesMustFall 2015/16 protests were not the first such actions. Protests against financial and academic exclusion, unaffordable accommodation and for free education had been occurring with such regularity at historically black universities (HBU) and the new predominantly black working class tertiary education institutions that they had virtually become part of the academic calendar. What distinguished the #FeesMustFall protests was their location in historically white universities. The waves of the sea of social deprivation against which HBU students had been swimming for years were now sweeping over the walls of their HWU counterparts.

The difference is that the gap between HBUs and HWUs is far greater than the comparative social conditions of the coloured and African working class. According to all social indices on poverty, unemployment etc., the coloured working class follows their black African counterparts a close second.

Having been made the false promise by the apartheid regime that their status as ‘yard slaves’ was the gateway to a better future on a par with whites, the coloured working class’ experience of democracy and black majority rule seems like a renewed form of discrimination and marginalization with the false promises of government of equality and prosperity for all dashed.

The Mail &Guardian (26/07/2016) reports that “Back in the day, the 47-year-old Hillbrow Flats – the first to be built in Extension 8 in Eldorado Park – were the envy of all. The building was fenced with steel palisades. The colourful walls were attractive and kept freshly painted. The green grass was manicured, trees were planted strategically to create a tranquil environment for residents and everyone looked forward to their brighter future.”

“Today, multiple generations of the same family live in overcrowded Eldorado Park homes and others squat in backyards. Residents say there has been little visible development in the area, even though there is plenty of vacant land.”

“Unemployed mother of three Wendeline Manuel (30) attests to the harsh realities of an uncertain future. “I don’t work and we are living in my mother’s two-bedroom flat. We are 18 people living in this house and my mother is the sole breadwinner.” ”

In public sector employment practice in particular, the ANC government has inverted the apartheid pyramid of apartheid racial discrimination. The Employment Equity Act, for example, was enacted with the promise of breaking down institutional racism to ensure equal employment opportunities for all. However, the ANC government has ignored the Black Consciousness Movement definition of “black” in the legislation as encompassing African, Indian and coloured. A common anecdote is that coloureds who fill in “black” in job application forms are told they are not “black black” in interviews.

Whereas the BCM consciously adopted the definition to resist the apartheid regime’s divide-and-rule policy by pointing out that we were all slaves who must unite against our common enemy, the apartheid slave masters, in government in particular, coloured and Indian job applicants are in effect being told that they were privileged under apartheid and must take their place in the jobs and promotion queue accordingly.

The retention, intact, of racial ownership patterns in the commanding heights of the economy – the banks, the mines, factories and big commercial farms – have been replicated in unchanged residential settlement patterns leaving townships and suburbs with the same racial colouration inherited from spatial planning under apartheid more than two decades since its end. Unsurprisingly there is a widespread feeling amongst coloureds that whereas under white minority rule they were not white enough, under black majority rule they are not black enough. Separated from their black African working class brothers and sisters against the background of the emergence of a sizeable black middle class, this feeling amongst sections of coloureds that the ANC government cares only for black Africans, has been reinforced.

As a captive in of the Tripartite Alliance, Cosatu has subordinated its duty to defend the principle of non-racial working class unity to the ANC’s dictates. Thus a principle so vital in uniting the working class across racial lines in their common struggle against the apartheid regime, in the defeat of which Cosatu was the decisive force, has been sacrificed.

The entry of the coloured working class into the service delivery struggle must be welcomed. However it is vital that coloured communities join forces with their black African brothers and sisters in the more than decade long service delivery struggle. Poor service delivery is not a coloured, Indian or African problem. It is a problem for the working class as a whole. We have all been marginalised by a neo-liberal capitalist ANC government serving the interests of the elite of all races. The fastest growing gap in the distribution of wealth is within the coloured, African and Indian communities between the elite and the working classes.

The Eldorado Park protest was preceded by joint action between the residents of adjoining Pimville and Kliptown. Freedom Park residents protested at the same time as Eldorado Park. All the coloured township protests occurred against the background of the ongoing wave of protests in black African townships across the country.

Equally vital is the need for Eldorado Park and other township residents to unite their communities on a democratic basis. Eldorado Park residents have already taken an important step forward in forging both the unity of the township itself by electing representative in each extension on an interim committee to prepare for a mass meeting of Eldorado Park and surrounding townships on 28 May 2017. This meeting will elect a representative body, develop a common platform of demands and programme of action.

At the same time a number of communities from the whole of the south of Johannesburg have agreed to join forces on a similar basis. These protests come against the background of a political crisis in the main political parties representing the rich – especially the ANC and DA. The coloured working class has suffered the same decline in service delivery, corruption and deterioration in social conditions under DA rule as their black African working class under ANC rule. The outcome of the 2016 local government elections represented not only a resounding rejection of the ANC by the black African working class, but also of the DA by their coloured brothers and sisters. The DA is in power in Johannesburg and Tshwane only because the EFF wishes to be part of a pro-capitalist coalition after 2019.

This will simply mean a different combination of the same corrupt capitalist parties who will continue exploiting and marginalize the working class. It is time we as the working class take our destiny into our own hands and join forces with the new federation, Saftu and students to form a mass workers party on a socialist programme.

TUT betrays workers

Insourcing agreement torn-up by management

Mass meeting of TUT workers

HOSTS: #OutsourcingMustFall

DATE: Saturday 20 May 2017

TIME: 09h00

VENUE: Burgers Park, Lilian Ngoyi & Jeff Masemola, Pretoria CBD

TUT management has broken the agreement that they signed with representatives of outsourced cleaners, landscapers, security guards and caterers on 11 February 2016.

It is clear that management never had any intention of honoring the agreement. The clearest sign over the past 15 months of management’s bad faith has been their refusal to convene the “Insourcing Task Team” which would have seen representatives of outsourced workers involved in decision making around the ending of outsourcing. Attempts by workers to co-operate with management to create this forum have hit a brick wall.

Management is determined to deny a voice to low-paid, hard-working and essential workers.

In the past weeks workers became aware that management was prepared to go back on the most fundamental agreement: to end outsourcing and raise wages to at least R5,000 p/m.

  • New tenders have been issued for security services. The 700+ security workers, currently under contract with Smada and Mafoko, were expecting to be insourced at the end of June 2017. They now face uncertainty about even keeping their jobs if new contractors bring new workforces.
  • The landscapers that were insourced last month have been employed on a wage of R3,800 rather than the agreed R5,000. A number of older landscaping workers have simply not been employed so that TUT can avoid pension liabilities, throwing vulnerable elderly workers into poverty in their twilight years.
  • The catering workers currently employed by Capitol Caterers and the cleaners currently employed by Selahle have been left in a precarious position, with their employment rolling over month by month on contracts that long expired, but with no date for insourcing agreed. Workers complain that with such precarious conditions they are unable to obtain credit or plan for their futures.

All of this has been done behind the backs of workers. At no time did TUT ever consult workers about any of this. Outsourced workers remain second class citizens at TUT. Workers remain exploited slaves!

Workers must organise! We must unite! We must prepare to go to the streets! We need to be ready to shut-down TUT!

 

‘Affordability & sustainability’?

This is TUT’s big lie! They say they can’t afford to insource. But everyone knows that outsourcing costs more than employing workers directly, even on higher wages and full benefits. This is because outsourcing means involving parasitic middle-men who want to make profits from exploiting workers.

Our answer to TUT’s argument is this: we don’t believe you! If you want us to believe you then invite representatives of the workers, with their own advisors and specialists, to make a forensic audit of TUT’s accounts. Workers must see where the money is going. Until TUT takes that step they cannot be believed.

TUT management will try and divide workers and students. They will claim that decent wages for workers must mean higher fees for students. This is another lie! Students have been fighting for free education. Workers must support this struggle. National government must be forced to introduce free education.

Which way forward for the students?

by Mametlwe Sebei, Executive Committee

This article appears in the current issue of Izwi Labasebenzi (Feb-July 2017).

The #FeesMustFall (#FMF) movement swept universities and the entire country with a protest wave against the unaffordable fees that exclude poor students from higher education. Alongside this, the outsourcing of university cleaning, security and other key services, that plunged workers into precarious employment for poverty wages, led to a general questioning of the neo-liberal ‘transformation programme’ of the past 23 years of post-apartheid black majority rule. The movement represented another eruption of the volcanic lava of working class discontent that broke first in Marikana and continues to move through every layer of society.

The movement shattered the wall of media lies about the “apathy of the youth”, which the ruling elite carefully constructed in the preceding decade to create the illusion of a carefree generation of ‘born-frees’ that, they argued, did not know the deprivations of the past, happily enjoying the sweet fruits of ‘freedom’. Sweeping one end of the country to another like a wildfire, in the space of a few days, #FMF politically awakened a whole generation of students and transformed tens of thousands of youth into a radicalised mass that inflicted an unprecedented defeat on the ANC government. They shook not only the political confidence of the ruling elite but also shifted the tectonic plates of the entire political architecture on which the capitalist system rests by laying bare the ‘invincibility’ of the ANC government as nothing more than an illusion. The ANC’s political weakness and vulnerability in the face of a united mass movement was exposed.

Breath-taking images of mass student power were broadcast daily in the news, showing campus assemblies and mass demonstrations to the main seats of political power in the major cities across the country. The scale of the political defeat inflicted on the government in 2015 was huge. They were forced to freeze fees (the zero-percent ‘increase’), allocate more funding to poor students, and even make verbal concessions to the demand for free education. This greatly raised the confidence of the whole working class and inspired outsourced and low-paid workers in universities, as well as other sectors, to rise on their feet and struggle against their ruthless exploitation.

 

Wrong ideas

However, today the #FMF movement lays paralysed in the face of state repression and an ideological onslaught against the demand for free education.  The incapacity of the movement to defend itself has focused the minds of the activists and the working class on the question of what ideas, strategy and programme are needed to rebuild the movement and take it forward to victory – winning free socialist education.

If the ‘spontaneous’ and ‘horizontal’ character of #FMF was its strength in October 2015, today these features have become its major weaknesses. Attempts to elevate these ideas to theoretically justified organisational principles are not only politically childish but a danger that demands uncompromising opposition from every genuine #FMF activist.

For the masses of the students, the rejection of ‘politics’, ‘organisation’, and ‘centralised political leadership’ mainly meant rejection of the treacherous, collaborationist politics of the ANC-aligned Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) leadership and the SRCs they control. These structures have long ceased to be accountable and democratic, dominated instead by a conservative and bureaucratic leadership unresponsive to the plight of poor students and insulated from the burning desire to fight back against unaffordable fees, academic exclusions, inadequate accommodation and poor infrastructure on campuses.

This degeneration flowed logically from the policy of remaining in alliance with the ruling party, whose capitalist government and neo-liberal policies are responsible for the crisis of public funding in higher education. It is not possible to bark with the hounds and run with the hare. By this policy the PYA became ‘managers’ of student anger and instead of leading them consciously disorganised them.

It is perfectly understandable that after many years of such conservative leadership and treacherous betrayals, the masses of students would be suspicious of ‘political organisation’ and reject any form of centralised leadership. In this sense, the anti-leadership sentiment represented a blind but correct desire for a break with the politics of class collaboration and a recognition of the need to build political independence from enemy class ‘influences’ – a progressive step toward independent revolutionary class politics.

 

Campus class contradictions

The tendency to theorise, and make a fetish of the ‘flat’, ‘horizontal’, in effect, unorganised movement has however, a different social and class basis. It is predominantly middle-class and reflects prejudices against working class organisation. This layer wants #FMF to continue with its current lack of organisation and co-ordination long after the majority of students successfully broke from the clutches of the political collaborators in the PYA. To finish them off and win free education we need an organised mass student movement. To build such a movement and co-ordinate effective programmes of rolling mass action, we need alternative centres of co-ordination at regional and national level to unify #FMF activists across all institutions of higher learning, which must include developing a movement of TVET college students.

Whereas the concerns about the ‘authoritarianism’ of official structures are legitimate in the light of the political experience of the student movement in the post-apartheid era, to argue that any form of organisation inevitably leads to ‘bureaucratic authoritarianism’ and ‘unaccountable leadership’ would be sweet if it was only a childish naiveté.

Unfortunately, the prejudices of some middle class students against any form of #FMF organisation reflects their deep-seated class prejudices against the political organisation of the mass of poor working class students and resentment at the democratic traditions of revolutionary student movements. The binding political discipline and organisational subordination of leadership to the mass of poor working class students by democratic majority rule would immediately see the self-proclaimed ‘leaders’ of ‘Fallism’ losing any and all influence. But in the absence of a mass democratic organisation, #FMF has been dominated by a self-appointed and unaccountable ‘leadership’ at each campus and social media celebrities who, owing to their privileged education, networks, and superior resources, enjoy disproportional influence in social media and personal access to public media.

For the working class youth, organisation is the only way to mobilise, co-ordinate and actively participate in struggle. It is only by building mass organisations that working class youths are able to voice their interests and assert their collective power. Above all, it is only through organisation that they are able to openly debate and test the various ideas, programmes and leaders that can take their struggles forward.

 

Disunity & identity politics

In the same vein, these layers have played a divisive role with their crude anti-white identity politics. They have effectively excluded significant numbers of the student population from the #FMF movement, and in so doing, undermined the unity shown at the start of the movement. In a situation where these ideas are dominant, especially in the formerly white-only institutions, where white students are still a significant part of the student population, if no longer a majority, they have led to a complete paralysis and isolation of #FMF activists from the majority of the students, including the black students in whose name they often speak.

The majority of students are repulsed by these divisive politics and alienated by the tactics flowing from them. These include the preposterous attempts to impose boycotts of classes on the same students that have been chased away from #FMF meetings. For these wrong ideas, and the alienation of the student majority they bring, it is ultimately working class students who pay the price as financial and academic exclusions continue and victimisation arising from state repression on poorly organised and ill-disciplined protests is left unanswered.

Now more than ever before there is a burning necessity for a united student front of all grassroots #FMF structures and activists to cut across all the racial and political party barriers to build a broad working class front for free education involving college and school students, organised labour and communities. As a first step #FMF should convene an inclusive National Conference for Free Education to work-out a programme that can broaden the base of political support beyond university students and unify the entire movement around common plan of action including campus shutdowns, class boycotts, mass demonstrations, occupations and national days of actions.

The defeats of 2016 and the current paralysis clearly reveals the limits of student power and sharply points to the need to bring to bear the organised power of the working class. It was not for lack of heroic determination and self-sacrifice that the movement has not been able to win its main demand of free education but the fact that the government can afford to ‘ignore’ students whereas the same cannot be said about the workers, whose power derives from their ability to bring the country to a standstill.

March against Zuma – raise the voice of workers & youth

Executive Committee statement

The Workers and Socialist Party calls upon all workers – organised and unorganised, youth, democrats, social movement activists, socialists and all people committed to equality and prosperity for all — to support #OutsourcingMustFall and #FeesMustFall and unite in protest against the corrupt Zuma-led cabal that has effectively established a dictatorship over the ANC and society as a whole. We must use this protest as the first step in the mobilization to enable the working class to have its own voice, its own programme and its own party – a mass workers party on a socialist programme.

Zuma proceeded with this power grab knowing in advance that it would not be his family, his clique or the rich capitalist minority as a whole that would pay the price for the inevitable downgrade by the economic police of global capitalism – the rating agencies. The victims would the working and middle classes, for whom what lies ahead are higher prices for food and basic commodities, school fees, and transport; greater indebtedness, higher home, car and furniture loan repayments and repossessions and retrenchments.

Nothing reveals the shameless hypocrisy of Zuma’s cabal than the assurances that both him and Malusi Gigaba have since given the rating agencies to continue the very policies of “fiscal consolidation” Pravin Gordhan had been implementing and which they had denounced so viciously. What they mean by “radical economic transformation” is the right to unrestrained looting in collusion with the very same “white monopoly capital” they claim to want to wrest economic power from. There is no more shameless example that that of the incompetent Bathabile Dlamini’s deliberately allowing the corruptly awarded white US-owned Cash Paymaster Services to continue and to open the social grant beneficiaries’ payments to be raided by the vultures of CPS’s partners even before they are paid out.

The working class has every interest in fighting against corruption. Zuma may be in the eye of the storm of our rage. But he is but one figurehead of an exploitative economic system that has made SA the most unequal society in the world over the entire post-apartheid period before and since Zuma with the ANC continuing where the apartheid regime had left off.

We are not protesting to enable the butcher of Marikana, Cyril Ramaphosa, to take over the presidency of the ANC or the country. His craven cowardice has once again been reaffirmed by his apology for speaking out against Zuma. After a weekend off his knees, he is now back on his belly licking Zuma’s boots.

These developments prove once again that the ANC has forfeited the right to rule society and along with them the capitalist class as a whole. As the 2016 local government elections have shown once again, the ANC – with the active electoral support of less than 35% of the eligible voting population — has lost the confidence of the majority. There is now a strong possibility that they may fall below 50% in 2019.

The capitalist class’ second eleven, the DA, is led in Johannesburg by a mayor who is an unapologetic xenophobe and free marketeer committed to dismantling trade union and collective bargaining rights but kept in power by the EFF. In the Western Cape it is led by a premier who says we should be grateful for colonialism.

The ever deepening mass unemployment, poverty and inequality lie within the capitalist system and the political system under which it is managed. The power Zuma has used to reshuffle his cabinet is provided for in the constitution in the form of the presidential prerogative. It shields him from accountability from his own party as well as society as a whole.

WASP calls for an Assembly for Working Class Unity of democratically elected delegates from communities, education institutions, trade unions and workplaces to develop a road map towards the launch of such a party. The party must commit itself to the nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy under democratic working class control and management; free education and health, the election of all official subject to the right of immediate recall and on an income no higher than that of the average skilled worker.

Political crisis – working class must lead

The cabinet reshuffle Zuma announced, like a thief in the night, at 12am on 31 March, 2017, is the most audacious act of factional manouevering since Zuma’s election as president of the ANC in 2007 and of the country in 2009. It has rightly been met with outrage. It is this administration’s most defiant public pledge of allegiance to the Guptas yet. It is the most brazen confirmation that the looting of the state is now the official policy of government under the Zuma administration. This Saxonworld cabinet is not just an insult to every section of society especially the working class, but it also a declaration of war. This government must go!

By retaining Bathabile Dlamini as Social Development Minister Zuma is spitting in the face of the poorest of the poor. The promotion of Faith Muthambi to Public Service and Administration is a condonation of incompetence – an invitation to take her wrecking ball from Communications to wield against more than a million public sector workers. Worse than this, in justifying the retention of both in his cabinet in the name of women empowerment, Zuma has demonstrated once again his complete contempt for women.

Bathabile Dlamini has consciously acted as a conduit for billions in tax payer money to end up in the accounts of the US-owned Cash Paymaster Services and for the grants of beneficiaries themselves to be raided with loans, funeral polices and pre-paid airtime in an illegal and corrupt contract by the vultures of CPS’s accomplices.

Faith Muthambi has acted in open defiance not just of the ANC NEC on communications policy, but even of cabinet in brazen collusion with MultiChoice over set box encryption and the SABC archives. Now Zuma has promoted her in contemptuous disregard of the ANC-led parliament’s own ad hoc committee. This is his insolent response to the parliamentary committee recommendation that she be sanctioned for wrecking the SABC’s credibility, management and finances and attempting to turn it into an unapologetic propaganda agency for the Zuma faction not unlike the Guptas’ ANN7.

This development has exposed the Zuma faction’s slogan “radical economic transformation” for what it is: the creation of an enabling institutional and policy environment for the self enrichment of Zuma’s family friends and cronies in the black elite. That is what lies behind the takeover of Treasury. The way has now been cleared for, in the words of the SACP second deputy general secretary, Solly Mapaila, “parasites and vultures to encircle it and loot it completely.”

Zuma and his faction have dressed up their corruption and looting in radical clothing, portraying their factional opponents as lackeys of white monopoly capital to which they are allegedly opposed. Their project is being presented as the “second phase of the transition of the National Democratic Revolution.” Yet new Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s first statement was to assure the rating agencies that he remained as committed to Gordhan to the austerity policies his predecessor was implementing  to appease them at the expense of the working class.

The reaction of the markets (the capitalists) to these developments is already being felt in the 8% decline in the value of the Rand. The downgrade of the country’s sovereign credit rating was predictable and inevitable. That Zuma has taken this action in spite of a ratings downgrade threat, confirms not only his economic ignorance, but also his insolent indifference towards the consequences of his actions for the middle and working classes.

The Standard & Poor’s downgrade, which could now be followed by Moody’s as well as Fitch, will mean that the cost of borrowing by government will skyrocket. Already government bond yields have been forced up 9.2% — junk territory. Government debt, at 43% of gross domestic product, is at levels higher than in the wake of the of PW Botha’s Rubicon speech in 1985. The cost of servicing this debt is already the fastest rising item on the expenditure side of the budget. Not only will this require even further cuts in social spending, but, with a fall in the value of the Rand, lead to spiraling inflation, as the cost of fuel, transport and food go through the roof. To the vicious circle of a declining Rand, capital flight and raising inflation, the Reserve Bank whose primary mandate as a key institution in the implementation of the ANC government’s neo-liberal capitalist policies is to keep inflation under control, will be to raise interest rates. It is a policy to make the working class pay the price for a crisis created by the capitalists themselves, their number increased by the middle class that will be dragged into their ranks.

The current level of interest rates – the servicing of which consumes 80% of annual household income – will mean hundreds of thousands if not millions more will swell the ranks of the 19 million indebted. House, car and furniture repossessions will escalate alongside personal and small business bankruptcies. Even from a capitalist standpoint, the actions of the Zuma administration are reckless in the extreme.

The looting of Eskom by the Zuptas has resulted in huge increases in the price of electricity and strangled economic growth. At 0.3%, economic growth in 2016 was the lowest since 2009. The 2017 budget’s strategic aim is to reduce the budget deficit to 2.4%. Its calculations are predicated on economic growth reaching 2%. With economic growth having contracted in the last quarter of 2016 to 0.3%, there is now a distinct possibility of a recession. The recession that followed the 2008 world economic crisis led to the loss of a million jobs. That recession came against the background of an average growth rate of 4.3% over the previous five years. Growth rates since 2009 have averaged less than 2%.  As the massive retrenchments in the mining, metal, engineering and now the poultry industry indicate, potentially millions more will be thrown onto the scrapheap of unemployment and poverty.

Zuma’s actions amount to a declaration of war. The primary consideration behind this reshuffle is the need to strengthen his factional grip over the ANC, to bolster his support amongst the parasitic black elite whose mouths are watering at the prospects of riches beyond their wildest dreams; riches that will completely insulate them from the disaster that awaits the masses in whose name they claim to be acting. The consolidation of Zuma’s factional grip over the ANC is intended to guarantee that he is succeeded as president, whether after the ANC’s elective conference in December, or after the general elections in 2019, by someone, preferably his ex-wife and mother of four of his children, Nkosazana-Dlamini Zuma from whom he expects an amnesty for the more than 700 corruption charges the courts have ruled must now be reinstated.

Alongside the burning anger of the masses there is a sharp feeling that something must be done. The protests at Treasury and Church Square in Tshwane are an indication of the indignation, albeit, at this stage, mostly of the middle class. But they are a harbinger of much bigger storms to come when the masses enter the stage of revolt against this regime.

Demands for Zuma to step down will gain increasing support not just from broader society but even from within the ANC itself. Zuma has effectively captured the ANC in a one-sided factional war in which only his faction has a clear plan and strategy. Secretary General Gwede Mantashe’s complaint that the list of new cabinet ministers came from elsewhere other than the ANC is a damaging admission of the impotence of the anti-Zuma forces in the party in the face of what is now a dictatorship over the ANC.

After months of suffering blow after blow, especially at the hands of the courts, Zuma and his faction are attempting to crush the opposition from within the ANC. By retaining leading SACP members Zuma is daring the SACP to carry out the rumoured threat of mass resignation. It is a cunning attempt to outmanoeuvre the feeble opposition of the very forces that brought him to power – the SACP and Cosatu, who now stand completely discredited buried under the rubble of their ideological bankruptcy and political cowardice. The call by the SACP politburo, likely to be echoed by the Cosatu Central Executive Committee, for Zuma to step down is a desperate attempt to salvage the last vestiges of their credibility.

But having dealt this knock-out blow to the entire Tripartite Alliance, Zuma has stepped out of the ring into an open confrontation with the masses.  In this arena he faces a force that he not only holds in the same contempt as the class forces he represents, but whose power he does not understand and for which he has no respect.

His confidence will be bolstered by the adulation of his cronies and his sense of omnipotence will be heightened by the absence of an organized mass working class political opposition. But it will be all too brief. The havoc their actions will unleash will detonate a revolt that will ultimately sweep not only the Zuma regime, but the ANC itself aside.

But for that to happen, the working class needs to be organized politically. The desire for a mass workers party has been present in the consciousness, especially since the Marikana massacre of not just organised workers, but of much broader layers of society including the middle class who are looking desperately for the kind of leadership the working class gave in the struggle against apartheid. It is to the task of compressing the raging fires of discontent across society into a mass workers party that all activists, progressive democrats and socialists must now dedicate themselves.

A rolling campaign of mass action to prepare for the increases in fuel, food, and mass retrenchments that are on the near horizon must be undertaken. With the connection between the onslaught on our living standards and the political developments in the ANC now obvious, the political situation demands the launch of a mass workers party. WASP calls for the convening of an Assembly for Working Class Unity to draw up a road map for the launch of a mass workers party. All socialists, youth, communities, workers including the forces building the new federation, must organize to elect delegates to this assembly whose main task must be  draw up a road map towards the lunch of a mass workers party.

It is vital that such a party adopts a socialist programme. Both ANC factions are committed to neo-liberalism. In the final analysis the present crisis does not originate with the corrupt Zuma faction, but derive from the neo-liberal economic policies the ANC has been implementing since 1996 with the adoption of Gear for which all the various factions into which the ANC is disintegrating are collectively responsible.

SASSA CRISIS Capitalism and Corruption: two sides of the same bloody coin!

by Weizmann Hamilton, WASP Executive Committee

The contract awarded to Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) to distribute social welfare grants to 17 million people reveals everything that is rotten in the capitalist system and the Zuma-led ANC government. It has exposed a web of corruption connecting CPS, its parent, the US-owned Net1 UEPS, BEE front men, the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini and the presidency itself. We are not dealing here with mere incompetence but a premeditated act of criminal negligence by a minister whose track record includes pleading guilty to misappropriating R245,000 in the “travelgate” corruption scandal. Dlamini, with the full support of the Zuma faction of the ANC, aimed to create conditions that would keep alive an unlawful contract to be administered by a company facing corruption charges both in SA and by the Department of Justice in the USA.

For the financial year to June 2016 alone, CPS made pre-tax profits of R1.5bn from a contract the Constitutional Court had ruled should be set aside. CPS had lied about its BEE credentials and used willing accomplices in and outside government in fronting — a criminal act. But such eye-watering profits from a corruptly awarded contract were not enough. CPS is now claiming that, should it have to continue distributing grants when the contract expires on 31 March, 2017, the cost per beneficiary would have to increase from R16.40 to between R22 and R25. That will cost up to an extra R1.3bn!

In a breathtaking example of the greed that oils the machine of capitalism, CPS has exploited its position as grants distributor to make available confidential personal beneficiary information to its subsidiaries to exploit and further impoverish the poorest of the poor. Like vultures they descend on grant recipients, with various products including funeral policies at month end.

“Shareholders of Cash Paymaster Services, Net1 UEPS, have utilised the database of grant recipients to cross-sell a range of additional services to them through a network of subsidiary companies. These include MoneyLine, which provides microloans, EasyPay Everywhere, which sells smart cards, Manje Mobile, which sells utilities such as airtime and electricity, and SmartLife, which offers insurance. (Daily Maverick (07/07/17)

CPS and partners consciously exploit beneficiaries’ temptation to top up the pitifully low social grants to cope with the pressure of the high cost of basic commodities on which the poor spend a far greater proportion of their income than the middle class and the wealthy. Writing in the Daily Maverick, Rebecca Davies tells the story of Maria (not her real name) “a 63-year-old pensioner who receives a monthly “older persons” grant from Sassa. She uses it to pay for rates and taxes, food, and electricity. She receives the grant as a cash withdrawal from one of the Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) merchants – usually Pick n Pay. In March 2014 Maria started noticing that her grant amount was lower than usual. The problem persisted the next month. Her account statement revealed that 18 deductions of R5 each had been taken from her account for airtime in March. In April, ten deductions of R10 each happened. With the help of her son-in-law she managed to stop the deductions taking place, but never received her money back. Maria, says NGO the Black Sash, “does not know how or why this depletion of her grant occurred. She did not seek out or authorise this service”.

Reacting to Black Sash’s ongoing legal action to stop the practices of abusing beneficiaries’ private personal information Net1 CEO Serge Belamant told FIN24 that when it came to the case outcome, “I don’t really care what it means. It’s not going to make any difference to how much money we’re going to make.” (Daily Maverick 09/03/17)

Taking advantage of the vulnerability of the poor, they deceive grant recipients, trapping them into taking “micro loans” offered “interest free” but which cost a service fee that is the equivalent of interest ranging from 180% to 450% for loans from R150 to R1,250. Grindrod Bank shares the loot with CPS by providing bank accounts. By accepting a bank card, beneficiaries consent to the storing and processing of personal information, their use by third party service providers, subsidiaries and affiliates.

It is common to find that grant recipients have never knowingly accepted any of these products let alone authorized deductions from their grants to pay for them. Even if they are fortunate enough to stop unauthorized deductions, they never recover the money that has in effect been stolen from their accounts. For the financial year to June 2016, CPS’s partner in this criminal enterprise, Grindrod Bank, made a profit of R793m from microloans alone!

The criminals at work here are not armed robbers lying in wait at pay points to ambush old age pensioners on social grant payment days. These are men and women in suits, allegedly respectable members of society, shareholders in highly profitable businesses who collude with highly paid civil servants and ministers who enjoy the protection of the president. Their weapons of choice are not AK 47s, but electronic payment systems, social grant cards, the accounts of the poor and the patronage networks that the Zuma administration has spent its entire two-terms putting in place. They include Allan Gray, Africa’s biggest privately owned investment management company which is also the single largest shareholder in Net1, whose share price went up when news broke that CPS will likely get a new contract. It is an outrage that CPS, having benefitted so handsomely from a corrupt contract, now wants to increase its profits by up to 36% while citing inflation which sits at 6%!

The social grants scandal is a perfect illustration of why the government’s neo-liberal capitalist outsourcing policies are such a disaster and the private-public sector partnership concept is just a cover for looting . It will be difficult to find a better example of why private profit is incompatible with social need. When the ConCourt ruled the contract unlawful, they also stated that CPS should not benefit from it.

The social grants crisis is further confirmation that the ANC has been turned into a vehicle of a corrupt elite that will stop at nothing to enrich itself. This will hasten its decline and even produce a split in the not-too-distant future. Even if the calamity of non-payment is avoided on 1 April, what will be burnt into the consciousness of the most downtrodden in society for whom the social grant is the difference between destitution and survival, is that the ANC’s dominant elite is prepared to profiteer out of their poverty.

The ANC has reaffirmed that politically it has forfeited any right to lead society; the same applies to the capitalist economic elite the ANC is imitating and serving so slavishly.  The Zuma faction is not an ANC aberration; it is merely a more brazen version of its capitalist self.  The working class must prepare to kick out this corrupt capitalist government in 2019 and take over the rulership of society.

  • CPS must pay back the money! Confiscate all CPS profits! Distribute grants at cost
  • No retrenchment at CPS! End outsourcing of social security work. Permanent jobs for all CPS workers with a minimum wage of R10,000 p/m
  • Charge Net1 CEO Belament with corruption
  • Bathabile must go!
  • Expropriate CPS distribution technology and infrastructure for use by the Post Office under workers control and management
  • For a mass workers party on a socialist programme

COALITION OF CIVICS AGAINST XENOPHOBIA

The Workers and Socialist Party has helped to initiate the formation of a coalition of community groups to combat the growing threat of xenophobic violence. Below is the public statement of the Coalition of Civics Against Xenophobia.

 

No to xenophobia and scapegoating

Build unity to end crime and poverty

Communities across South Africa are frustrated with the serious social problems we face, especially drugs and crime. People become desperate when the police fail to act. But the indiscriminate violence against foreign residents in Rossetenville last week and in Pretoria West this last weekend was wrong. It was not only wrong, but it has made it even harder to find real solutions to our problems.

The vast majority of foreign residents are COMPLETELY opposed to drugs and crime. Just like South African-born residents, foreign residents want criminals to be removed from our communities too. Xenophobia is not the answer to crime and poverty – unity is the answer! We should be working TOGETHER to identify and root-out crime. The real criminals in our communities will slip through the net if we are fighting each other instead of uniting.

We are a coalition of communities representing South African-born and foreign-born residents. We stand united against crime, poverty and xenophobia. We call on the police and the authorities to act against known criminals in our communities; we also call on them to FULLY GUARANTEE the safety and protection of foreign residents. To support that, in co-operation with the relevant authorities, we call on communities to build UNITED and DEMOCRATIC community watch groups to identify both criminals and those planning xenophobic attacks.

The Mamelodi Concerned Residents have called a march for 24 February. We call on all South Africans to stay away and we call on the organisers to URGENTLY reconsider their plans to march. Marching against “illegal immigrants” won’t do a thing to solve the problems in our communities. It will only create MORE problems. Regardless of what the organisers might intend, almost certainly, a tiny minority of South Africans will use the march as an excuse to attack innocent foreign residents and loot legitimate businesses. Just like the violence over the past two weeks, this will further divide our communities.

We need a march that unites our communities in order to find real solutions to our problems. Therefore we are organising a march to take place on TUESDAY 28 FEBRUARY. We will march united – South African-born and foreign-born – to Union Buildings against crime, poverty, unemployment AND xenophobia. We will submit a memorandum calling on government to act urgently on the issues facing our communities. We call on ALL residents to march with us in unity.

21 February 2017

No to xenophobia! United struggle for jobs, houses and services for all

  • Organise against xenophobia

  • Organise our communities to fight crime and drugs

Contact WASP on 082 471 2034 to work with us on this issue. Download this article as a printable flyer here.

Mamelodi Concerned Residents is handing out flyers around Tshwane. They want people to march against “illegal immigrants”. They are blaming “foreigners” for all the problems in our communities – problems such as unemployment, drugs, prostitution and crime. These are very serious problems. They make life in working class and poor communities harder than it already is. But these problems are not caused by poor working class foreign residents!

The problems of crime, drugs and prostitution are caused by mass unemployment. This means poverty and desperation for millions. The government does nothing about this because they run South Africa in the interests of the rich and the bosses and not in the interests of the working class and poor.

South Africa’s richest man is the chairman of Shoprite. He has R100 billion but pays his workers poverty wages and won’t even give them permanent contracts. The bosses refuse to create jobs by investing their huge profits. Instead they avoid paying tax and illegally take their money out of the country. It is greedy bosses like this who keep workers and their families in poverty.

The government has made savage cuts to social spending. This means poor quality housing, health care and education – more poverty! The ANC Gauteng government has killed nearly 100 mental health patients by trying to cut costs. They moved patients out of hospital and gave them to unlicensed and incompetent NGOs. Patients died from things as simple as lack of water!

Marching against “illegal immigrants” won’t do a thing to solve these problems. If we are divided and fighting each other it lets the greedy politicians and bosses off the hook. They will keep laughing all the way to the bank. Wrongly, foreign residents have been attacked before, and even murdered. But did it ever solve a single one of our problems? No! It did not.

Working class people know that it is only organisation and struggle that can solve our problems. In the #OutsourcingMustFall campaign, thousands of low-paid workers have struggled for permanent jobs and higher wages. This campaign has involved South African-born and foreign-born workers. By being united workers defeated labour broking in many workplaces and improved wages from R2,000 up to R10,000. But workers would not have won any of this if they had been fighting each other instead of building a united and powerful movement.

Xenophobia is leading communities into a dead-end. It delays us from building the real alternative to poverty and unemployment – the  united working class struggle for socialism. We need to build a powerful new socialist civic federation that organises all residents in our communities and leads a mass action campaign on the issues of job creation, service delivery, and stamping out crime.We call on the Mamelodi Concerned Residents to reconsider their plan to march. We need a march that unites the working class and poor against the rich and their politicians. It is time the communities of Tshwane, and across the entire country, organised a day of action, marching in every township and poor community to demand: jobs, houses and service for all! We invite all community activists and structures to work with us towards that goal.

 

We must organise our communities on this socialist programme…

Organise our communities

  • Build democratic, accountable mass community organisations in every community. These organisations must involve ALL residents whether South African or foreign.
  • No to corruption. For complete transparency in all aspects of the work of community organisations. Leaders to be accountable and recallable.
  • Link-up all community organisations in a country-wide socialist civic. Support the building of a socialist mass workers party.

Create jobs, share out the work fairly

  • Country-wide socialist civic to campaign and fight for a fully-enforced national minimum wage, mass job creation programmes so that everyone who wants a job can have one and labour exchanges that can match job vacancies with workers. Campaign and fight for an unemployment social grant.
  • Stop greedy bosses using foreign workers to undercut wages! Community organisations and local businesses must agree community-wide minimum wages enforced by community organisations.
  • Community organisations must draw up registers of the unemployed, South African and foreign, and their skills. Local businesses, including foreign businesses, must employ a quota of workers from these registers, the number depending on the circumstances of the business. These registers to be regularly inspected by representatives of the community to protect against corruption.
  • Community organisations to organise rotas for casual workers, South African and foreign, to ensure all have a fair chance to earn a regular wage.

Crime

  • Organise to stop xenophobic violence. Organise community-watch programmes under the democratic control of community organisations with the mass participation of the community to protect foreign residents and businesses against xenophobic violence.
  • No to crime and drugs. Campaign and fight for high quality, free, drug rehabilitation programmes for addicts. Organise community-watch programmes under the democratic control of community organisations with the mass participation of the community. Report all drug dealers and other criminals, South African and foreign, to the police and campaign for their removal from the community.

No to homophobia!

For a united working class movement against prejudice & discrimination

 Bishop Dag Heward-Mills caused controversy during his guest sermon at the Grace Bible Church on Sunday when he told the congregation that homosexuality was “unnatural”. Somizi Mhlongo, a member of the congregation and a gay man, walked out of the church in outrage at the remarks. He later posted a video online of himself passionately explaining that he was offended because far from being “unnatural”, he was born gay, and that issues of his faith’s compatibility with his sexuality were a private matter for him to deal with. Below, Hazard, WASP member in the North West, comments on the homophobic prejudices which, unfortunately, are still widespread.

Homophobia deeply infests language and society. Hatred, fear, dislike and prejudice towards homosexuals is expressed daily in terms of abuse such as “fag” and “morfee”, thrown around in workplace corridors, community alleys, places of worship, and in social media comments ­ The choice of words, even spoken over the cradle of a child, such as “act like a man”, “you are not a girl”, and many others, prepares them for a world of anti-gay stereotypes. Debating “nature or nurture” is irrelevant and offensive.

Historically, the ruling class has used religion to defend the inequalities and class divisions in society. They often encourage the idea that the rich need only to give to charity and the poor can accept their poverty happy in the belief of a better after life.  This is why religion must be a private affair. The question of the ‘truth’ of scripture depends on who is interpreting it. Priests and pastors should not bring their own prejudices and present them as divine revelation. Many working class people will be firm in their conviction that their faith should not become a means for justifying the oppression of others.

Homosexual people should be able to expect full equality in society without facing prejudice. Socialists fight for a society where every person belongs and is able to thrive regardless of class, race, gender, religion, sexuality, or disability. A humane society would allow every person to hold any view and live any lifestyle that they desire.

The liberation of all people facing oppression and prejudice must be taken up by the workers movement. For a socialist, homophobia is a grave crime. Socialists must be at the forefront in the fight for gay rights. To not stand up against all forms of oppression creates the space for the ruling class to divide us, weakening our struggle for better living conditions and a better future. Whilst many gains can be won to improve the situation facing gay people now, genuine equality can only be achieved in a socialist society. Serious mass protests should meet all homophobic persons, whether a pastor or a politician, who tries to spread their divisive views.

Protest Trump’s Inauguration on Friday

 

 

 

 

 

VENUE: US Consulate

ADDRESS: 1 Sandton Drive (opposite Sandton City), Johannesburg

TIME: from 5pm

DATE: Friday, 20 January

 

Solidarity with the American working class!

Build a global united working class movement against imperialism and reaction

Friday will see the biggest protests in the United States to ever welcome the inauguration (swearing in to office) of a new president, the billionaire Donald Trump. American Workers, women’s rights groups, black civil rights groups, immigrant organisations and LGBTQ activists will hold protests and rallies across the United States. Protests are planned at embassies and consulates across the world.

In the American city of Seattle, a mass walkout of school and college students is planned. Socialist Alternative, WASP’s sister party in the US has been at the heart of organising these protests. The day after Trump was elected in November, Socialist Alternative was key to mobilizing 40,000 people onto the streets in a number of US cities.

Trump will take office despite losing the popular vote due to the undemocratic electoral system in the US. Not only did Trump lose the popular vote, but nearly half of Americans didn’t vote in the first place, so disgusted where they with the election campaign. There is little support for Trump’s reactionary agenda. In America, just like South Africa, there is an enormous political vacuum. Trump is a warning to the working class across the world of what can happen if that vacuum is not filled with a socialist alternative.

The Workers and Socialist Party is calling on people to picket outside the US Consulate in Sandton, Johannesburg, on Friday afternoon to coincide with Trump’s inauguration ceremony. A period of mass struggle is opening up in America. We call on all those opposed to imperialism and Trump’s sexist and racist agenda to join us and show our solidarity with our American class brothers and sisters. A united movement can defeat Trump and his reactionary agenda!