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Build a socialist mass workers party for 2019
Executive Committee statement
In celebrating Zuma’s victory in the motion of no confidence vote, the majority of the ANC parliamentary caucus has confirmed the contempt in which they hold the majority of the people in SA, particularly the working class and the poor. The immediate backdrop to this vote was the torrent of evidence pouring out in the form of the Guptaleaks revealing a breathtaking level of brazen corruption in which Zuma is the central enabler. The ANC parliamentary caucus majority thus voted to keep in power the most unpopular and corrupt president in post-apartheid SA, and arguably in the ANC’s own 105-year history. They have condoned not only unprecedented levels of corruption, but have given a stamp of approval for a recession and junk status, the combination of which has enormously aggravated a sick capitalist economy the burden of whose crisis has been placed on the shoulders of the working class and the poor.
The latest Labour Force survey results released in the same week revealed that, even before the full effects of junk status have been felt, unemployment remains at the highest ever post-apartheid levels. The further downgrade of SA’s Rand-denominated foreign debt, the possibility of which has now been significantly increased, will precipitate capital flight, higher interest rates, submerging potentially hundreds of thousands more in debt when 19 million are already credit impaired, and households spend 74% of their annual income on debt servicing. House repossessions, which are four times the world average, will accelerate along with car, furniture repossessions, increases in the prices of fuel, food and basic services. For both the disastrous consequences of Zuma and ANC rule that has already occurred, and what is to come, the ANC parliamentary caucus has shown a cold indifference.
The celebrations of the Zuma supporters, however, resemble the behaviour of the peasant of Russian folklore, who sings wedding songs at funerals and funeral dirges at weddings. They may have saved a president whose election precipitated the ANC’s worst split, leading to the emergence of Cope in 2008, and went onto preside over a second, the EFF, and has now taken it to the edge of a third. But in doing so, their contemptuous defiance of popular opinion, has magnified the prospects of the ANC falling below 50% in 2019 elections. They may have saved Zuma, but they have condemned the ANC.
This, however, was a hollow victory. That the vote was held in secret against his express wishes, that, for the first time since 1994, 26 ANC MPs voted against their party president, and a further 9 abstained, with not a single MP who spoke in the debate making any mention of Zuma’s absent virtues, we have a result in which a sitting ANC president with a 62% majority in the last general election in 2014, was supported by less than 50% of parliament. This is the measure of the depths to which his authority has sunk. This was not so much a victory as a survival.
It was always unlikely that Zuma would lose the motion of no confidence in parliament on 8 August their gift to women on Women’s Day. But millions still ‘hoped beyond hope’ that enough ANC MPs would break ranks to get rid of this hated president. Only eleven more votes were needed to bring Zuma (and his cabinet) down. A further nine MPs abstained. Whilst only around 12% of ANC MPs were prepared to vote with the opposition parties at this stage (more defied the whip by abstaining), this is a significant deepening of the divisions within the ANC, which have now publicly spilled into their parliamentary caucus. The position of Zuma and his supporters has weakened further.
This rebellion adds more pressure to the political calculations of the different factions in the run-up to the ANC’s December conference. The chances of Zuma being recalled as president of the country have now increased. His supporters now have to factor the danger of a parliamentary no confidence motion succeeding in the future.
The calculations of many MPs will change if Zuma appears set to stay in office until 2019. Falling below 50% of the vote in 2019 would wipeout at least 50 ANC MPs. Many of them remained loyal to the party whip in this week’s vote only in the desperate hope that the December conference will come up with something – anything! – to preserve the unity of the party, saving their jobs and safeguarding the gravy train for another five years. A deal that sees Zuma ‘voluntarily’ agree to step-down cannot be ruled out. But even if he goes, it can never be anything more than damage control for a party whose trajectory can only be down.
The turmoil in the ANC is a product of the general crisis of South African capitalism which is incapable of meeting the demands of the working class for jobs, services and decent living standards. A loss of support, reflected in splits and divisions within the ANC was always inevitable upon the basis of their slavish support for capitalism. Zuma’s disastrous rule has accelerated that process.
But any ‘solution’ to the disastrous rule of Zuma from the point of view of the bosses will be no solution for the working class. His rule has been disastrous for them for entirely different reasons to that of the working class. Zuma’s blatant theft and looting has undermined their ‘legal’ exploitation of the country by undermining their main instrument of rule for the past 23 years – the ANC itself, which, through the Tripartite Alliance has ‘contained’ the opposition of the organised working class.
All the candidates competing for the ANC crown are pro-big business politicians. The most likely winner in December, should the Zuma faction be defeated, is Cyril Ramaphosa – the millionaire ‘butcher of Marikana’ and mastermind of the new poverty-level minimum wage!
The SA Communist Party, despite their recent calls for Zuma to go and talk of standing their own candidates in 2019 obeyed the ANC whip in the no confidence vote. Up to half of ANC MPs are members of the SACP. It was fully within the power of the SACP to ensure Zuma falls. Their cowardly capitulation has discredited them even further. Of all the players involved in this drama, it is they who bare the chief responsibility for Zuma living to fight another day.
All of the opposition political parties support capitalism. Should the ANC receive less than 50% of the vote in 2019 some form of opposition coalition will likely replace them. The DA and EFF have already begun testing how this would work in practice in the Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay metros. The current ‘unity’ of the opposition parties for the removal of Zuma is more practice for such an outcome. But such a government would be an anti-working class government, just as the DA-led, and EFF-supported administrations in the metros are proving themselves to be.
The DA has tabled a new ‘plan’ to table a motion for the dissolution of parliament to allow early elections. However they know full well that an impeachment requires a two-thirds majority which has absolutely no prospect of success given that they could not get the 50% for the No Confidence Motion. It is merely the posture of a party that had little to celebrate following the 2016 local government elections, when they failed to benefit from the ANC’s decline to 54% of the overall vote and the loss of the three metros. They are in power there thanks to the political cowardice of the EFF who could have gone back to the electorate to get an outright majority but opted instead to invent the dishonest “lesser evil” argument to justify installing the DA in power – a party they still ritually denounce as a racist and agents of white monopoly capital.
Their impeachment proceedings due to reach court in September are calculated to deepen the splits in the ANC in preparation for a pro-capitalist coalition in 2019. This distracts attention from the fears that, as in the2016 local government elections results, there is no guarantee that they would benefit from the ANC’s woes. Their lack of confidence in the masses and preference for a “united pro-capitalist front” is the real reason that they keep their challenge firmly within the boundaries of bourgeois parliamentary democracy.
Urgent alternative needed
A socialist mass workers party is desperately needed. Only this can offer a real alternative to everything that the working class opposes about Zuma’s presidency.
Unfortunately, because the working class does not yet have such a party, the capitalist opposition parties have been given the space to posture as champions of the anti-Zuma mood and ‘lead’ the campaign against him. But their only answer to the corruption of the Zuma years is to in effect seek votes for themselves – even if they are careful not to say this crudely.
This has meant carefully keeping their ‘campaign’ in safe parliamentary channels. The massive march to Union Buildings on 12 April was not used as a platform to mobilise a mass campaign to bring down Zuma but to create a mood of cheer-leading for the opposition MPs and their motions and court cases. The 15,000 strong march outside of parliament during the vote this week was no different.
The opposition parties are anxious to ensure that the working class is not mobilised against Zuma. This would push working class demands for genuine accountability and democratic oversight to combat corruption on to the agenda. Inevitably this would be linked to calls to raise the minimum wage, end outsourcing, build houses and provide services. Neither the DA or EFF, or any of the smaller parties supporting them, has the programme to meet such demands. The working class would expose them if they participated in the anti-Zuma campaign as an organised force.
The liberal SaveSA campaign has gone along with this agenda. After the unexpected success of their 7 April marches, with turnouts in Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town massively exceeding the organisers’ expectations, they made no serious calls for further action. Instead, they swung behind the opposition parties. As champions of SA’s constitution (which defends capitalism) SaveSA helps to prettify this rotten system. Their press release following the defeat of the motion of no confidence “salutes the many brave ANC MPs who put their country first”. These are the same MPs who have supported years of anti-working class ANC policies!
Working class left on sidelines
Unfortunately, the wrong approach of the leaders of the trade union movement, including the leaders of the new Saftu federation, has allowed this situation to continue.
Some, such as the Numsa leadership, have kept their distance and avoided getting involved on the ground in the campaign against Zuma. The working class is being misguided into the wrong belief that somehow the struggle against Zuma is ‘not their fight’. In large part this is the fear of the question that struggle immediately poses – what political alternative is in workers interests? Just asking the question immediately poses the creation of a new workers party! Something, unfortunately, they sometimes support in word, but oppose in practice by inaction.
Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of Saftu, has in general had a better position than most in the Saftu leadership. He has encouraged workers to participate in anti-Zuma marches and has spoken at rallies, for example outside parliament during the no confidence vote. But he has made poor use of the platforms to push an independent working class position. Outside parliament Vavi said that, whether capitalist or worker, we should put aside our differences for the day in support of the MPs inside parliament planning to vote against Zuma.
History has shown that such calls from workers’ leaders are dangerous. They disorient and disarm workers because the bosses and their politicians never stop fighting the class war. It is always a one-sided cessation of hostilities. To prove this, whilst Vavi was saying this outside parliament, hundreds of City of Tshwane security guards were marching in defence of their jobs in Pretoria CBD. The DA and the EFF administration are retrenching 3,000 workers. Where was the promise from them to set aside our differences? There was none of course.
The ineffectiveness of the Saftu leaders in the anti-Zuma campaign underlines the severe limitations of their current ‘independent but not apolitical’ policy. Avoiding the issue of a new workers party means leaving the working class as spectators and allows our class enemies – like the DA – to posture as the saviours of ‘society’. But the task of building a new workers party to fight for a socialist society, linked to a programme of independent working class mass action against the Zuma regime, is the only answer that the working class can give to the corruption of the Zuma years.
How can workers defeat outsourcing and win R10,000?
A critique of Tshwane EFF Student Command’s abuse of APSA
by Tshwane WASP
A strike of outsourced workers is underway at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). It began on 22 May and is now in its third week. It has been organised under the banner of #OutsourcingMustFall (#OMF), not least because it is impossible to organise a protected strike of workers under the neo-liberal capitalist regime of outsourcing. The division of workers under many different contractors is designed by the bosses to weaken workers’ organisation and leave the few pro-worker laws worthless.
But over the past two years #OMF has pioneered tactics to build principled unity across the divisions encouraged by the bosses at a time when the workers’ movement itself is fragmented and divided.
Unfortunately however, in Tshwane, EFF Student Command activists, using (or rather abusing) the Academic and Professional Staff Association (APSA) have acted in an extremely divisive manner, weakening the struggle against outsourcing at TUT. This is very dangerous, as a defeat at TUT against the background of the current ebb in the student’s struggle for free education will embolden managements across higher education to snatch back the gains made by workers and students.
We have no doubt that the vast majority of APSA members are genuine trade unionists only interested in furthering the interests of the working class. Neo-liberalism has stripped away many of the privileges of previously ‘professional’ occupations and pushed sections of the middle class into the working class. We must celebrate that academics are taking their rightful place in the labour movement. But the way that EFFSC’s Tshwane leadership is using APSA on the ground is proving divisive and damaging.
#OMF was launched in November 2015 following the highly successful #FeesMustFall mass movement of students. Building on that momentum, #OMF organised outsourced workers across the higher education sector in Tshwane. Heroic, unprotected strike action in 2016 defeated outsourcing in the Tshwane universities. Agreements were won to insource all workers on increased wages. In some cases wages would climb as high as R10,000 p/m.
There has never been any secret that #OMF was initiated by the Workers and Socialist Party working closely with our members in the General Industries Workers Union of South Africa (GIWUSA). However, we were clear from the start that #OMF could never succeed as the narrow property of any one organisation. We always welcomed anyone, or any organisation, as long as they supported the struggle against outsourcing.
Unfortunately, the EFFSC’s Tshwane leadership abused #OMF’s open and democratic approach from the start. Early in the campaign, they broke the outsourced Unisa workers away from the Tshwane-wide #OMF campaign. They encouraged a strike at Unisa that took place in isolation. Among many avoidable mistakes, more than 200+ security workers lost their jobs under the EFFSC’s leadership. The other serious consequence of this student-led ‘adventure’ was to weaken the Tshwane-wide campaign which began a united strike some weeks later.
From the point of view of the EFF students this ‘manoeuvre’ had one purpose: to prove their credentials as ‘the most radical’ and ‘the most militant’. This is the very definition of sectarianism, which means to place the interests of your own organisation ahead of the interests of the working class as a whole. It was a scandalous abuse of workers’ willingness to struggle. It seems that it was during this episode that EFFSC leaders caught sight of APSA.
At that stage APSA was an organisation that only existed at Unisa. Even now, APSA does not claim more than 1,500 members nationally. To our knowledge, all of their members are in Tshwane. APSA did not begin life as a trade union but, as the name indicates, a ‘staff association’ open only to Unisa academics. To its credit, the ‘old’ APSA leadership had decided it was necessary to have a process of ‘transformation’ within the organisation, and to move away from its narrow focus on academics. With EFFSC’s Tshwane leadership calculating that they could use university workers to boost their ‘militant’ credentials, and APSA looking for a more radical direction, the two began working together to break APSA out of Unisa and into other institutions.
Across Tshwane today, APSA is the project of EFFSC. Indeed, it is impossible to tell where the leadership of APSA ends and where the leadership of EFFSC begins. On the ground their activists are one and the same.
The EFF and the workers movement
Many in the workers movement have made an accurate characterisation of the EFF and whose interests it represents. Its programme is ultimately the programme of the frustrated black middle class/aspiring capitalists. Whilst their programme is dressed up in radical, even socialist rhetoric, it ultimately aims to use the capitalist state to shift power (and wealth) from the still dominant white capitalist class to their aspiring black counterparts. As is always necessary for a movement that represents the interests of a minority class, it is necessary to dress-up their programme in order to try and mobilise the masses behind it.
The EFF’s attitude to struggle confirms this. Whilst they are effective at organising ‘show pieces’, such as their march to the JSE, or even their disruptions in parliament, the EFF has zero interest in mobilising a genuine mass movement, let alone one based on the working class. The democratic traditions of the working class, its experience and capacity for self-organisation, are viewed as a threat to the EFF’s demagogic style of leadership, which unfortunately their student leaders mimic. The EFF’s focus remains tightly on electoral politics and the institutions of the capitalist state.
The EFF’s cadre is overwhelmingly drawn from the black middle class (including students and ex-students) rather than workers. Its ‘mass’ base, to the extent that it can be said to have one, rests on the unemployed and middle class youth. Reflecting this social base, the EFF, especially its Student Command is most comfortable with crude anti-working class nationalist ideas. But these ideas have always been a dead-end for workers’ struggle because they prioritise and even counterpose racial solidarity over class solidarity.
The EFF’s leader, Malema, has consciously kept the EFF at a distance from the workers movement. On the other hand, whilst some organised workers will have voted for the EFF as a ‘radical’ alternative, the EFF has made no serious inroads into the organised working class (beyond a certain impact among the Rustenburg mineworkers under unique circumstances, though again, this has been consciously limited by the EFF leadership to simply asking for the mineworkers’ votes). Most conscious workers do not trust the EFF; and the EFF does not trust organised workers. The role the EFFSC’s Tshwane leadership is playing in APSA is the exception that proves the rule. It is no accident that given these characteristics of the EFF, it is finding its point of entry to the workers movement via the middle class milieu of the universities. It confirms the above analysis.
It goes without saying that the engagement of young people and students with the workers movement, from whatever class background, should be welcomed and encouraged. Indeed, it was #FeesMustFall that pushed the issue of outsourcing firmly onto the agenda of the workers movement. During that mass movement campus assemblies uniting students and workers were a common feature. This was central to what made that movement so powerful.
But unfortunately, as the mass movement ebbed, an unhealthy attitude from some of the politically affiliated student structures emerged towards workers and workers’ struggle. These structures came to view workers struggle as a tap to be turned on and off for their own benefit. A competition over ‘who could lead the workers?’ developed. This mistaken and arrogant approach unfortunately informs the EFFSC leadership’s campaign to build APSA – as an auxiliary to their student structures. Winning the ‘leadership’ of university workers would strengthen the EFF’s student base and their ability to grab headlines by disrupting the campuses. Such a strategy can never work in the long-term. Workers will not long tolerate such methods. But in the short-term it can cause significant damage to the struggle.
The 2017 TUT strike
Throughout 2016 all the workers struggling under the #OMF banner (with the exception of Unisa as explained above) took the decision to join GIWUSA. But despite GIWUSA having an overwhelming majority amongst TUT workers, #OMF’s open and democratic approach remained a principled positon. Before the strike began, TUT’s student structures were approached to support the workers, as were the campus unions organising permanent staff. As long as they supported the struggle against outsourcing they would be welcomed.
Inevitably, GIWUSA organisers and shop stewards would play an important role in the leadership of the strike, having organised TUT workers since early 2016. But they would lead not as GIWUSA officials, but rather as members (or even simply as advisors) to the workers committees elected to lead the strike. These committees were open to workers from any organisation, or none, to ensure the broadest and most united leadership possible.
But from day one EFFSC worked to undermine this tried and tested framework for unity in struggle. This included ignoring the workers’ committee and the elected strike leadership, calling their ‘own’ meetings of workers and spreading gossip and lies to undermine workers’ confidence in GIWUSA. They have disrupted meetings between workers and management, meetings that were demanded by workers, dragging the strike on longer than necessary as meetings are suspended in chaos.
Even in the build-up to the strike, EFFSC activists were moving around TUT’s campuses, and in the name of APSA, lying to workers that they were #OMF whilst agitating against GIWUSA. This weakened #OMF’s work to unite and prepare workers for the strike. The main role of EFFSC at this time should have been to mobilise students in support of the workers. But this was something they never even attempted because, by their own admission, it would have made them “unpopular” during exam time!
Poaching not struggle
EFFSC’s and APSA’s genuine support for the current TUT strike would have been welcomed. Indeed, it was asked for. If APSA has the ideas and strategy capable of beating the TUT management then we will be the first to listen. We want to hear how this stubborn management, linked by a thousand threads to the ANC’s kleptocratic BEE elite, mired in nepotism, and willing to use hired thugs to attack striking workers, can be defeated. If, after hearing that, workers decide to leave GIWUSA for APSA, how could we possibly complain?
But this is where the real agenda of EFFSC’s Tshwane leadership is exposed: never once have they put forward an alternative strategy to defeat outsourcing at TUT. They simply agitate for ‘more militant’ and ‘more radical’ action – code for committing acts of violence against workers not on strike and students and vandalising TUT property. This is not an alternative, it is just posturing. Instead of keeping the focus on management, EFFSC leaders put their energy into diverting workers’ legitimate frustrations with the hardships of the strike, against GIWUSA.
The reality is that the EFFSC Tshwane leadership does not support the current strike at TUT. They do not see the strike as an opportunity to defeat outsourcing. For them it is nothing more than an opening to poach members from GIWUSA for their APSA project. Their opportunistic calculation is that they must shatter the unity of the workers in order to do that. The struggle against outsourcing is entirely secondary to that agenda. Indeed, the defeat of the strike would be the best outcome for the EFFSC Tshwane leadership’s agenda. If that happens, we can predict now that they will work tirelessly to lay the blame at GIWUSA’s door. They will then come to the workers with a ‘solution’ – join APSA.
In the nearly two-year old struggle against outsourcing across Tshwane’s higher education sector the efforts to build a broad and united campaign have been constantly undermined by EFFSC leaders who repeatedly force ‘organisational rivalry’ on to the agenda at the expense of the struggle itself.
The way forward
At the University of Pretoria, GIWUSA is calling for a university assembly of all progressive students and workers, and their organisations, to build principled unity. On the issue of union ‘competition’, we are clear: whatever can increase the organisation and unity of workers for victory in this struggle is progressive. Organisations musty bring their ideas and in an open and democratic way submit them to the judgement of workers and students.
Even now, #OMF would welcome the support of EFFSC and APSA on a genuine and fraternal basis. Not just for the current TUT strike but in the general struggle against outsourcing. However, we think it extremely unlikely that the leadership of the EFFSC can change given the politics of their ‘mother body’. Therefore our appeal is aimed firstly at APSA members: defend your union and build it in on the genuine ideas and traditions of the workers movement. Struggle! Solidarity! Socialism! Unite with progressive organisations and together struggle to defeat outsourcing and win R10,000.
by Trevor Shaku
Socialist Youth Movement
The university and college students and pupils have demonstrated throughout history that they are forces of change in society. The latest waves of student struggles have vindicated this clearly, from the young women at Pretoria High School to #FeesMustFall. Moreover, the rich history of workers alliance with students is also long established.
The need for unity amongst all the oppressed has been well recognised by young people and workers through the history of struggle. Unity of workers in workplaces; unemployed, young and old-aged in communities; and the student and pupils in the education sector has been vital in for the struggles of the exploited and oppressed to make concrete gains.
Workplaces, communities and education institutions are the three theatres (centres) where the class struggle rages. In these theatres, those fighting for change are predominantly from a working class background, black, women and other oppressed/discriminated against groups, such as LGBTQI people. Revolutionaries are striving for unity of the oppressed and exploited masses.
Hence the workers and students have a historical record of collaboration not only in the struggle within the universities. The youth of 1970s aligned their struggles with those of the workers. They recognised the need to align their struggles precisely because they were confronted with one enemy – a system that was predicated on the back of exploitation of the working class, and political and cultural exclusion and oppression of black people.
Historical overview of workers-student alliance
The student movement through rejuvenated the political space in a number of ways. NUSAS made an important contribution in the rebuilding of the labour movement. NUSAS set up wage commissions in many campuses where it operated, and later helped form trade union organisations giving organisational expression to a workers’ movement which could feel its strength and power anew after long period of economic expansion. NUSAS assisted with the formation of MAWU, forerunner of today’s mighty National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA).
SASO’s resolution of the 3rd annual congress in 1972 led to it aiding the formation of the Black Allied Workers Union (BAWU). But it is SASO’s role in the broader political struggle that prepared the ground for the decisive historical turn of events that the 1976 Uprising represented. Following the expulsion of Onkgopotse Tiro from Turfloop (today’s University of the North) for criticising the Bantu Education system during a graduation ceremony, many black students took a conscious decision not to return to university until all the expelled had been reinstated and to enter secondary schools to build a movement of opposition to Apartheid regime.
SASO was formed by black students who broke away from NUSAS in opposition to its liberal, gradualist approach of NUSAS. If SASO teachers played a significant role in radicalising the 1976 generation, the student themselves were further radicalised by the experience of the workplace, the only “university” the majority of black students would ever graduate into.
The confluence of student radicalism and worker militancy prepared the ground work for the emergence of the most powerful trade union movement on the African continent – Cosatu.
Unfortunately Cosatu has abandoned its traditions of struggle, tying the workers to their exploiters in the tripartite alliance. Its affiliates have become ridden with corruption, as a careerist labour aristocracy proudly supports the ANC – the organisation that perpetuates the exploitation of the working class and cuts public spending.
Worker-Student Alliance in 2015/2016 –
One of the most important developments that featured in the recent waves of youth struggle that engulfed the higher education sector was student-worker unity. This worker-student unity reached the greatest heights ever achieved since 1994. The unity was a mutual recognition that the struggles of the students and workers cannot be fought in isolation, especially given the fact that the enemy is the same system: the system that is capitalist in content, neoliberal in form, neo-colonial in character and imperial in scope.
Found in the neo-liberal strategies that restructured the economy in the mid-1990s, cuts to education coincided with outsourcing as ways to boost profits at the expense of public expenditure. Outsourcing meant that workers real wages were lowered significantly; their benefits scrapped; and they were subjected to unfair labour practices with less job security. Meanwhile, the cuts to education expenditure combined with a volatile period in the capitalist economy meant that university managements turned to increasing tuition fees in order to cover the costs of operations.
The rising costs of living which slave wages of the workers could not keep up to, underpinned the inevitable revolt of the workers in this sector. The rising costs of education which hit significantly at the pockets of the middle-income earners meant that a period of resistance against the education cuts was and is still lying ahead.
The #FeesMustFall and #OutsourcingMustFall struggles saw the fruition of this unity. The unity transformed the campaigns into mighty movements which inflicted defeat on the neoliberal establishment in relation to wages, general labour practice and insourcing. Though the latter has been won in principle across the higher education sector, the struggle for implementation continues.
The students of 2015/2016 have retied the knot with the 1976 generation of students. In honouring not only the invitation of Blade and the government he serves (by refusing to provide free higher education and reneging on insourcing in all government departments), but that of history, the youth today is yet to confront neoliberal capitalism head-on.
Amidst the neoliberal onslaught on education rights, and basic services such as water, electricity and sanitation, we draw a conclusion that community and campus strikes will explode again in the future. The students of our time must strive for proper organisation and consolidation of our broad movements to fight the capitalist system.
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.
Insourcing agreement torn-up by management
Mass meeting of TUT workers
DATE: Saturday 20 May 2017
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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