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International Women’s Day 2018: Women’s oppression in Nigeria under patriarchy and oppression
by Women’s Committee, Democratic Socialist Movement (CWI Nigeria)
We women in Nigeria live in utter privation. We still face oppression of various kinds both at home, work, schools and in society – such as the refusal to legalize abortion (abortion rights), divorce rights, rape/harassment and so on. All these cannot be disconnected from the capitalist system – a system that reinforces patriarchy and creates inequality and discrimination. It is a system that survives mainly by oppressing and exploiting the vast majority, including women, to further enrich the tiny minority.
Indeed, for women it is a double tragedy. In addition to being exploited as workers under the capitalist system just like men, women again suffer gender oppression in a patriarchal society like ours. Women are discriminated against in almost all areas because we are viewed as the ‘weaker sex’; i.e. in the education system, health, political representation, labour market and in many other areas.
In Nigeria, many girls do not have access to adequate education beyond a certain age. There are many reasons for this i.e. cultural, religious factors etc. For instance in the North, for cultural and religious reasons, a great proportion of girls are not enrolled in school. Instead they are married off to older men as soon as they reach puberty. But the most significant factor is the soaring cost of education, arising from government policies of underfunding and education commercialization, which forces working class and poor parents to decide on which of their children the family will invest its lean resources in to educate. Usually the male child is preferred to the female child when choices of this nature are to be made.
Of course, there has been some improvement in terms of enrolment in the past few decades. For instance, not only has the proportion of girls enrolled in primary school increased (from 45.7 % in 2010 to 48.6% in 2015), also the completion rate for girls in primary schools has increased from 46.7 % in 2010 to 48.3% in 2015. Similar trends can be observed in the secondary school enrolment of course with allowance for local and regional peculiarities. However, enrolment into tertiary institutions across the country remains male dominated on average.
Currently, the female adult literacy rate (ages 15 and above) for the country is 59.4% in comparison to the male adult literacy rate of 74.4% (National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) “Statistical report on women and men”, 2015). In 2010, the percentage of females completing tertiary institutions decreased from 41.3 percent to 38.4 percent in 2015. Unless a mass movement is built with the active participation of women to fight for improved funding of education, provision of free education at all levels and democratic management of schools, the situation can get worse over the next decade.
Nigeria had the world’s second highest maternal mortality rate of 1,100 per 100,000 births in 2007. This scary statistic has not significantly improved as the most recent estimate in 2015 put it at 814 deaths per 100,000 live births. It is the underfunding of the health sector that has led to this high mortality rate of women during childbirth and the pregnancy period and the deaths of women with curable diseases. Lack of access to prenatal and postnatal care, obstetric services and family planning information contributes to the high maternal mortality rate. Other contributing factors include unsafe abortions, inadequate post-abortion care, early and child marriages, early pregnancies, inadequate family planning services, the low rates of contraceptive usage, lack of sex education etc. Also, about 59 percent of deaths from HIV/AIDS are women.
Since abortion is illegal in Nigeria, many women resort to unsafe abortion methods, leading to abortion-related complications and increasing mortality and morbidity rates. Research has revealed that only 40% of abortions are performed by physicians with proper health facilities while the remaining percentage are performed by non-physicians. Consequently, abortion accounts for 40% of maternal deaths in Nigeria, making it the second leading cause of maternal mortality in the country.
Female genital mutilation in Nigeria accounts for the largest number of female genital cutting/mutilation (FGM/C) cases worldwide. Nationally, 27% of Nigerian women between the ages of 15 and 49 are victims of FGM. In the last 30 years, prevalence of the practice has decreased by half in some parts of Nigeria but it is still prevalent in the rural areas where cultural practices are strong.
As a group, women do as much work as men, if not more. However, the types of work, as well as the conditions under which women work, and their access to opportunities for advancement, differs from men. Women are often disadvantaged compared to men in access to employment opportunities and conditions of work.
In 2015, the Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) was 65.1 percent for women and 71.4 percent for men (National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) “Statistical report on women and men”, 2015). This reflects the changes that have taken place in the structure of society over the past three decades. Increased access to education and the impact of capitalist neo-liberal attacks on living standards are undermining some of the cultural and traditional beliefs that have consigned women to the home. In any case, given the fall in real wages, many working class households can only survive each month by relying on the income of both parents. As a result many women are now going out to work.
But instead of this constituting the basis for the full liberation of women, it has further increased our yoke because we now have to combine taking care of the home and children (unpaid care work) with our jobs. This is aside from the fact that the jobs readily available to women are low paid, contract jobs in industries producing garments or hair attachments or as teachers, nurses, bank cashiers, market traders, office assistants, petrol station attendants. A big proportion of women still work on the farms tilling small plots that can barely yield enough to feed the family.
Also, despite increased participation of women in the labour process, gender inequality still persists. At the primary level of education, female teachers constitute the highest proportion, where the pay and conditions are poor, while constituting just about 25 percent of teaching staff at the tertiary level of education where the pay and conditions are relatively better. For the period, 2010-2015, on the average, 72.3 percent of senior positions in State Civil Service were occupied by men compared to 27.7 percent occupied by women. At the junior level and across the staff, a similar pattern was maintained. The proportion of men employed in the reference period was consistently higher than that of women.
In addition, women earn less than men in both manual and non-manual jobs, where there is work of equal value. All these are clear evidence of the double exploitation women experience under the capitalist system. Women also face lots of challenges in the workplace such as insecurity, sexual harassment, inequality in pay, insufficient maternity leave.
Rape and sexual assault
Rape, sexual harassment and violence against women are prevalent in Nigeria. Physical and sexual violence against women affects mostly females in the age bracket of 20-24 years old. A few cases of domestic violence leading to death have dominated the headlines in recent years. Some of these cases involved middle class families. But the situation is even more tragic for women on low incomes who may not have the choice of leaving violent relationships due to the inability of affording decent housing and adequate means of livelihood. In other words, poor women are at risk of suffering greater domestic violence.
Likewise, sexual harassment is prevalent on the campuses. Male lecturers often compel female students to have sex with them in exchange for good marks. If they refuse, they stand the chance of failing their courses. There was a case last year at Auchi Polytechnic, Edo state, where male students were compelled to hire sex workers at a cost between N10, 000 and N20, 000 to sleep with lecturers on their behalf in order to pass courses or plead with their girlfriends to sleep with the lecturers if they could not afford the cost. On their part, female students often had no other choice but to yield to the desire of the lecturers or keep failing the courses. Several schools and even the students unions have no mechanism or programme to deal with these issues. Also most victims are afraid of the stigma and also do not trust that anything will be done.
Cases of women being brutalized for infidelity, especially in the North, cannot be overlooked. Whereas if their male counterparts commit the same “offence” they are never questioned rather they are celebrated, defended and praised for showing their power and control.
All these attitudes and practices are rooted in a patriarchal view and way of life which has to be fought. Also religious ideas like Sharia law further reinforces patriarchal beliefs by portraying women as the property of men.
As the mass misery in Nigeria intensifies, trafficking is rising. This is because while young men who leave the shores of the country to escape poverty may have the choice of selling their labour power, the girls, mostly uneducated or half-educated, have only their bodies to sell. Consequently between 2010 and 2015, more females were trafficked, with the proportion of females trafficked for prostitution as high as 70.8 percent for people aged 18-27 years. This reflects the worsening conditions of women and the working masses in general under capitalism.
Women have also suffered atrociously from the violent crises breaking out across the country. The herdsmen versus farmers clashes have made women on both sides widows meaning they now have to take up the burden of the whole family. Several women have also been killed and had their farms and livestock destroyed in the unfolding crisis.
Boko Haram attacks
Perhaps more than any, the Boko Haram crisis which started in 2009 has affected women and girls disproportionately. In fact women, especially girls enrolled in school, have become targets of the Islamic fundamentalist group which is against western education. Just a few days ago on Monday 19 February 2018, 110 girls were abducted by suspected Boko Haram militants from their dormitories at the Government Girls Science Technical College (GGSTC) in Dapchi, Yobe state.
This comes about four years after a similar abduction of 276 girls on the night of 14 to 15 April 2014 from a boarding school in Chibok, Borno state. All these attacks have had an enormous impact on school enrolment, rolling back recent progress made in girl-child education. Also, many women have been turned into widows and many have lost their homes and means of livelihood. Many are now at Internally Displaced Persons camps (IDPs) as a result of the insurgency.
The labour movement must fight for women
Organised women constitute a sizeable portion of the labour movement especially the teachers’ union, nurses’ union etc. Unfortunately, the trade unions rarely reflect in their propaganda or agitation issues concerning women. Also the trade unions have no active campaign targeted at the sexual harassment, unequal pay, sexism and rape that many female workers undergo. Also on the campuses, the students’ unions and education workers’ unions have no programme to campaign against these issues even when their members are affected.
The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) – CWI Nigeria – calls for active campaigns led by the labour movement and students’ movement against women’s oppression and discrimination in workplaces, communities and campuses.
We need active campaigns that link the discrimination and oppression women face with the fight against attacks on public education and heath, for increases in the minimum wage and improved working conditions, against privatization, deregulation and all anti-poor capitalist policies.
Crucially too, we need a campaign that is fully conscious that women’s oppression can fully end only when patriarchy and the capitalist system that reinforces it are defeated. This means a workers’ and poor people’s government coming to power armed with socialist policies of the public ownership of key sectors of the economy under democratic public control and management as a step towards mobilizing and using the resources of society only for the benefit of the vast majority of the populace.
International Women’s Day 2018: Capitalism oppresses women – fight for socialism!
by Hannah Sell, CWI International Secretariat
When the twenty first century dawned young women in the US and much of Europe were being told that equality was within their grasp. They didn’t need feminism because capitalism was offering a glittering future based on growing prosperity and gender equality.
Today that illusion lies in ruins. Worldwide the myth of capitalist progress – of young people having greater opportunities than their parents – has been shattered by the world economic crisis of 2008 and its aftermath. Young people from working and middle class backgrounds are facing a world that does not meet their expectations – dominated by mass unemployment, low paid and insecure work, cuts to public services, and unaffordable housing. War and conflict are on the rise, leading to millions risking their lives as they are forced to flee their homes. For women this is combined with the sexual discrimination which remains embedded in the fabric of society and means that, in a world of low pay, globally women still earn on average 10 to 30% less than men.
In the neo-colonial world, where most wages are pitifully low, women are super-exploited. They work sometimes 12 hours or more a day on the land, in the markets, in textile and shoe factories. In many places, women and their children work as modern-day slaves.
Far from there being an automatic gradual dying out of sexual discrimination, in a number of countries governments are acting to exacerbate it. In Russia, for instance, where it is estimated a women dies of domestic abuse every forty minutes, domestic violence has been partially decriminalised. Austerity has impacted directly on the amount of violence and harassment women face, and their ability to fight back. In Britain, for example, more than 30 refuges for women fleeing violence have closed due to lack of funds, with many of the rest facing closure or, at best, severe cuts. At the same time the complete absence of affordable housing leaves women with nowhere at all to go if they flee violent partners. Or look at the 9 out of 10 workers in Britain who work in bars, restaurants and hotels who report having faced sexual abuse from employers, managers or the public but who are told that ‘it is part of the job’ which they should put up with because they are lucky to have work. Today, no less than in the past, improvements in women’s rights will not happen automatically but only as a result of mass struggle.
IWD more important than ever
That is why International Women’s Day, over a century after it was first initiated in the US, is more important than ever. Attempts to transform it into little more than a sales opportunity for the big corporations – with campaigns to buy the women in your life 8 March gifts – lie increasingly forgotten as 8 March becomes an important event in the burgeoning global struggle against women’s oppression. This year the young women of the Spanish state will be leading the way when, on 8 March, millions of young women and men will be taking part in strike action called by Sindicato de Estudiantes (students union) in which Izquierda Revolucionaria (the section of the CWI in the Spanish state) plays a leading role.
The final death knell to the fairy story of seamless progress towards equality was the election of the blatant misogynist Donald Trump as US President. From day one, however, his presence in the White House has acted as a recruiting sergeant for struggle against racism and every form of oppression; not least the fight for women’s rights. Following the women’s marches last year – the biggest demonstrations on one day in US history, and the biggest globally since 2003 – the 2018 marches were attended by up to 2.5 million in towns and cities across the US. Nor are the US and Spain alone. In many countries around the world new women’s movements have developed, or are developing.
Some of these are in response to the oppression that women have long suffered – like the continuing movement against rape in India and the ‘Ni una menos’ (not one less) movement against gender-based violence that has mobilised hundreds of thousands onto the streets of Argentina and other countries. Others are to stop new attacks on the rights of women – like the partially successful movement that developed in Poland in 2016 against a government attempt to completely ban abortion. Others, however, are going beyond trying to stop things getting worse and fighting for an improvement in their rights. This is also true in Poland – where protests took place at the start of this year for the introduction of abortion on demand up until twelve weeks.
In Southern Ireland, the state – intertwined with the Catholic Church – has since its inception taken an extremely reactionary attitude to the rights of women to control their own bodies, including a complete ban on abortion. Following the appalling death of Savita Halappanavar in 2012, after she was refused an abortion, there has been a groundswell for change. The Socialist Party in Ireland has played a central role in mobilising and organising that groundswell, alongside the socialist feminist campaign initiated by Socialist Party members – ROSA. Now the capitalist politicians in Ireland have been partly forced to change their tune under the impact of the movement. A parliamentary committee has recommended unrestricted access to abortion up until 12 weeks of pregnancy, and a referendum on repealing the existing ban will take place on 25 May this year.
2017 was also the year of #metoo. What began in Hollywood – with actors speaking out against the sexual assault and harassment they suffered at the hands of film mogul Harvey Weinstein and others – has spread around the world. Virtually every capitalist institution from the media, to the major corporations, to parliaments, to charities has been damaged by an avalanche of accusations. This outpouring, largely via social media, is an indication both of the continued all-pervasiveness of sexual harassment and assault and an increased confidence to fight it.
We give no ground to those who try to say that this phenomenon has ‘exaggerated’ the extent of sexual harassment and abuse. On the contrary, it has revealed only a little of the day-to-day reality for countless women, above all the most oppressed including the lowest paid, those without job security, and women workers from ethnic minorities. That does not, of course, mean that every single accusation made via #metoo can be taken as proven; all individuals should have the right to a fair hearing before being judged guilty. Regardless of the guilt or innocence of particular individuals, however, #metoo has clearly revealed the guilt of the capitalist system which allows millions to suffer sexist abuse.
It is no surprise that so many of the accusations being made are against men in positions of power over their victims. Capitalism is based on a tiny minority of society – above all the capitalist class, the billionaires who own the major corporations and banks – having enormous power to exploit the majority. We live in a world where the richest eight people own as much as half the world’s population. Inevitably in such a society among those with power will be people who habitually try to use their status to sexually abuse or harass women and men with less power than them, not least their employees. But this does not, of course, mean that working class men are exempt from such behaviour. Sexism is woven into the fabric of capitalism and affects every strata of society.
Without doubt 2018 will see the development of further movements to defend and extend women’s rights. This is the inevitable result of women’s expectations and the propaganda of equality from a section of the capitalist class, butting up against the sexist reality of capitalism.
Male dominance linked to class society
Sexual oppression is deeply ingrained, but it is not innate or unchangeable: for the majority of human history it did not exist. Male dominance (patriarchy), both in its origin and in its current form, is intrinsically linked to the structures and inequalities of class society, which came into existence around 10,000 years ago. The rise of male dominance was linked to the development of the family as an institution for maintaining class and property divisions as well as discipline. While, today and in the past, individuals families were often made up of the people with whom they were closest and felt safest with, the institution of the family nonetheless, in different forms, acted as an important agent of social control for all class societies. The hierarchical nature of society was echoed in the structure of the traditional family with the man as head of the household and women and children obedient to him.
While today more than ever the capitalist institution of the family has its weakest hold on working class people, millions of women around the world remain ‘the slaves of slaves’ and the idea is still deeply ingrained that women are possessions of men who need to be loyal and obedient to their partners. The whole of society is permeated with propaganda endlessly re-emphasising the ‘proper’ role of women – as home-makers, mothers, sexual objects, and so on.
Burden on family
For capitalism one important role of the family is to carry the central burden of bringing up the next generation and caring for the sick and elderly. In the second half of the twentieth century, at least in some European countries, this was partly alleviated by the gains won by the working class such as free or cheap healthcare, nurseries, elderly care and so on. Today in every country those gains are under threat, leaving families, particularly women, carrying a horrendous load, often at the same time as working full-time or more in low-paid insecure work, desperately struggling to make ends meet. Socialist feminism fights for equality between the sexes. Our role, however, is not to accept the impossible burdens that capitalism places on families – only arguing about who carries the greater share – but instead to wage a determined struggle for properly-funded universal public services, and well paid jobs with a short working week, in order to lift the load of tasks laid on working class families and give people the chance to enjoy life; including spending time with their loved ones.
This struggle is connected to the struggle for reproductive rights, because only on this basis is it possible for women to win a real right to choose when and whether to have children. Socialists fight for women to have control over their own bodies – so they can decide if and when they want children – but also for women to have affordable high quality homes, free childcare, a decent income and everything else that is necessary to be able to freely to choose to have children.
The struggle for women’s liberation is at root part of the class struggle, in which the struggles by women against their own specific oppression dovetail with those of the working class in general for a fundamental restructuring of society to end all inequality and oppression.
Capitalist feminism no answer
We disagree with capitalist feminism because it does not take a class approach to the struggle for women’s liberation. To put it simply, working-class women have more in common with working-class men than they do with Margaret Thatcher, Theresa May in Britain, Hillary Clinton in the US, or Sheikh Hasina Wazed in Bangladesh. This does not of course mean that only working class women are oppressed. Women from all sections of society suffer oppression as a result of their gender, including domestic violence and sexual harassment. However, at root, to win real sexual equality for women, including for women from the elite of society, a complete overturn of the existing order is necessary in every sphere: economic, social, family and domestic. The necessary starting point for such an overturn is ending the system which Thatcher, May, Clinton et al defend – capitalism – and bringing the major companies into public ownership in order to allow the development of a democratic socialist plan of production. The working class, the majority in many countries, is the force in society capable of carrying out such an overturn. This does not preclude, of course, individual women from the elite of society – even daughters of the capitalist class – deciding that the only way to end the sexism they suffer is to break with their class and to join the fight for socialism.
Role of workers’ movement
Socialists in no way suggest that the struggle against sexism be postponed, as something only to be dealt with after the end of capitalism. On the contrary, it is vital that every aspect of women’s oppression is fought now, including sexual harassment and abuse. The most effective means to do this is via a united struggle of the workers’ movement. Recently in London ferry workers took militant strike action against a bullying management, including the systematic sexual harassment of one female secretary. The workforce – overwhelmingly male – won a victory. For the countless millions of people facing sexual harassment in their workplace worldwide, the single thing that would most empower them to fight back would be to be part of a collective organisation involving a majority of their workmates – a fighting trade union – prepared to back them up when they took a stand. On a broader scale the working class needs mass parties, politically armed with a socialist programme, which put fighting for gender equality central.
Of course, the workers’ movement is not immune from sexist behaviour, and it is vital that socialists fight for all such instances to be dealt with as part of a campaign for a working-class struggle for women’s equality. The working class has the potential power to bring this rotten, sexist capitalist system to an end, but this will only be possible on the basis of a united struggle of working class women and men. This cannot be achieved by ignoring or downplaying sexism but only by consciously combatting it.
One hundred and one years ago in Russia, on International Women’s Day, a strike and demonstration of working women set off the mighty revolutionary events that led, in October, under the leadership of the Bolshevik Party, to the working class taking power into its hands for the first time in history. The later Stalinist degeneration of the Soviet Union included, along with the crushing of workers’ democracy an unwinding of many of the gains won by women after the revolution. Nonetheless, what was begun in 1917, in an isolated poor country, gives a glimpse of what socialism could mean for women today, when all the enormous wealth, science and technique created by capitalism could be harnessed for the good of humanity. Legal equality for women – including the right to vote, and to freely marry and divorce, was introduced long before they were in the capitalist world along with abolition of all laws discriminating against homosexuality. The right to abortion was introduced in Russia after the 1917 revolution. Free nurseries, laundries and restaurants began to be created.
A century later and the growing movement for women’s rights will once again be intertwined with the struggle for a socialist world.
We fight for:
- No to all discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, disability, sexuality, age, and all other forms of prejudice.
- For a mass campaign, spearheaded by the workers’ movement, against sexual harassment, violence and all forms of sexual discrimination.
- For fighting trade unions, democratically controlled by their members.
- For mass parties of the working class with socialist programmes, including the fight for gender equality.
- A mass struggle for equal pay, as part of the fight for a living wage for all linked to a shorter working week with no loss of pay.
- No to ALL cuts. Decent jobs, pay, and housing for all. For massive expansion of public services.
- For maternity and child benefits that reflect the real cost of bringing up a child.
- The right to paid parental leave.
- The provision of free high-quality flexible public childcare facilities available to every child.
- For a woman’s right to choose. Freely available free high-quality contraception and fertility treatment for all who want it. For the right to abortion on demand.
- Public ownership of the pharmaceutical industry.
- Bring the major corporations and banks into public ownership under democratic workers control and management, with compensation paid only on the basis of proven need.
- A democratic socialist plan of production based on the interests of the overwhelming majority of people, implemented in a way that safeguards the environment and lays the basis for establishing genuine equality for all in a world without class division and war.
by Weizmann Hamilton, Executive Committee
Inside two months following his election as ANC president at the party’s December 2017 national conference, Cyril Ramaphosa has realised the ambition he reportedly set himselfnwhilst still at high school according to a close childhood friend – to become the country’s president. If his victory in the ANC presidential succession race was not at all certain, the narrow margin of his victory made Zuma’s dramatic resignation so soon after the conference seem improbable. Ramaphosa’s ascendancy to the highest office in the land was built on a 50/50 split that ran right through its top structures — the Top Six, the national executive as well as the national working committees.
Even more unpromisingly for Ramaphosa, his triumph was the result of the betrayal of Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza, the most powerful member of the pro-Zuma so-called “Premier League”. This alliance of corrupt provincial premiers (including those of the Free State and North West) manipulated provincial conference elections, stripping the national conference of all credibility – reduced to a gigantic auction of corrupted delegates. By instructing his delegates, in the name of “unity”, to switch their votes from Zuma’s anointed successor, his ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, it could be reasonably expected that Ramaphosa would be beholden to the most corrupt of the trio.
That outcome suggested a period of paralysis ahead for the ANC as the two factions – Ramaphosa’s and Zuma’s – were set for a collision between the two centres of power in the party and the country for the remaining 18 months of Zuma’s term as the country’s president before the 2019 general elections and inaction by Ramaphosa.
By the evening of the 14th of February 2018, however, the reality of the decisive shift in the balance of forces in the ANC that set in after Ramaphosa’s conference victory, finally dawned on Zuma. He surrendered the presidency as meekly as he had ascended to it with such triumphalism nine years ago. For the second time in ten years, the ANC has humiliated its president by not permitting him to complete his term of office.
Zuma reaps the whirlwind
The drama of Zuma’s ousting is rich with irony. He became the victim of the same process he had led to prevent Thabo Mbeki from completing his term nine years ago – a recall. Thabo Mbeki continued as the country’s president for eight months after Zuma’s triumph at the ANC’s Polokwane conference in 2007, Zuma for less than two. His defiance of the ANC’s NEC’s instruction to resign or face being voted out by the previously unthinkable — the ANC supporting a Motion of No Confidence tabled in parliament by the Economic freedom Fighters, led by Julius Malema whose expulsion Zuma had ensured in 2012. The ANC had gone to such extreme lengths despite the fact that a successful Motion of no Confidence would lead to the dissolution of the entire cabinet – ministers and deputies. Faced with such a threat, Zuma capitulated.
The end of Thabo Mbeki’s reign was inglorious. But he accepted his recall with dignity and respect for the decision the party he had served all his life, and in which he had come to be regarded as political royalty. Zuma’s presidency ended in ignominy and cowardice, protesting his innocence to the end –his conduct a study in incomprehension in the parallel universe he inhabited, of what had unfolded.
Zuma ascended the presidential throne in the slip stream of a revolt against more than a decade of the neo-liberal Growth Employment and Redistribution (Gear) policy Mbeki had imposed on the country in 1996 without any discussion in ANC structures. Although economic growth averaged 4.5% under Mbeki, the regular budget surpluses at the time were made possible by the massive redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich catapulting SA to the top of the global league table of inequality. Gear led to a rapid polarization of the classes, reflected in the phenomenon of service delivery protests – working class communities in revolt against poor service delivery and corruption which began in 2004, and the biggest public sector strike in SA history at the time. The aloof indifference of the Shakespeare-quoting. whisky-sipping and pipe-smoking “Call me a Thatcherite” Mbeki- the personification of the aspirant black bourgeoisie the ANC was founded to represent – ensured that the succession battle in the ANC became an indirect expression of the collision of the classes in society.
The consequences of these policies called into existence what subsequently came to be known as the coalition of the wounded – victims of Mbeki’s marginalisation and witch-hunting who opposed the policies he enforced in dictatorial fashion on the ANC and its Tripartite Alliance partners, the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the SA Communist Party (SACP) as well as the Malema-led ANC Youth League. Zuma was to win the presidency with a decisive 60% majority which was to increase to 75% at its next conference in 2012.
Then Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said famously at the time that the forces would ensure Zuma’s victory would be an “unstoppable as a tsunami.” He was not to know that the Zuma tsunami would cut a swathe of destruction through society – through the economy, on the lives of the working class, the Tripartite Alliance, and in state institutions.
Disaster for the working class
Zuma’s regime was born in scandal and morphed into a kleptocracy. Making full use of the Bonapartist provisions of the country’s much vaunted constitution, the prerogative to appoint and “dis-appoint”, heads of state-owned enterprises, the police, the priority crimes unit (the Hawks) and the National Prosecuting Authority. Dismissed by Mbeki as deputy president in 2005 over what the judge described as a “generally corrupt relationship”he had developed with benefactor Schabir Shaik who was sentenced to 15 years for corruption over the arms deal scandal, he was reinstated after he manipulated the dropping of the charges against him. He drove Khwezi, the daughter of a fellow comrade into exile and to her death, after he was acquitted of raping her. He dismantled the Scorpions (SA’s equivalent of the US FBI).
He converted government into a criminal enterprise for the self-enrichment of his family and cronies. Under the direction of the Gupta family of Indian immigrants he developed a network of cronies so powerful that they even decided on appointments in cabinet and SoEs that the beneficiaries themselves heard about from this corrupt family even before it was announced in the ANC itself. It is estimated that the looting spree has resulted in the loss of over R100bn to the public purse. Under his watch the economy has nosedived gasping for breath at 1% per annum when eliminating extreme poverty (those living on R441 per month and have to choose between buying food or spending on other essentials) will require ten years of 5.4% average economic growth. The SA Revenue Service has under collected tax of over R50bn. Under his watch,far from halting the impoverishment of the masses that Mbeki’s regime began, it has accelerated. 55% of the population live in poverty, with 9m unemployed – approximately 40% (67% amongst the youth) with 15m going to bed hungry every night. The economy has experienced two recessions and a rating agency downgrade.
Under Zuma the ANC has undergone two splits—the birth of the Congress of the People in 2008 and the Economic Freedom fighters in 2012. The Tripartite Alliance has lost all credibility. Cosatu expelled the 340 000-strong National Union of Metal Workers following its 2013 decision not to support the ANC in the 2014 elections. Nothing expresses the political bankruptcy of Cosatu and the SACP than the fact that they cling on for dear life to the Tripartite Alliance having campaigned for the billionaire Ramaphosa – one of the richest men in the country and butcher of the Marikana mineworkers.
The Ramaphosa Spring
Understandably Ramaphosa’s victory has been welcomed by most including working class people. They hope he will make good on his promise to root out corruption, lift the economy out of the doldrums, create jobs, eradicate poverty and raise living standards.
So discredited had Zuma and his cronies become that the demand that Zuma step down was supported by virtually every layer of society including big business who had been opposed to Mbeki’s ousting. It is this factor, the tsunami of public of opinion, that overwhelmed the ANC. Zuma’s erstwhile allies dumped him like rats a sinking ship. As we predicted after the ANC conference, with the ANC facing almost certain defeat in 2019 if Zuma remained at the helm, the beneficiaries of Zuma’s patronage would desert him for the same reason that they defended him to the hilt despite all the crimes he committed, from the rape charges against Khwezi, to the arms deal corruption and the so-called security upgrades at his private home Nkandla which earned him a scathing, unprecedented judgment by the Constitutional Court.
In the period following his election as ANC president, the Hawks and police appear to have been energised leading to raids on the Gupta compound, the offices of the Free State Premier and the arrest of a number of corruption suspects. Gupta patriarch, Ajay, was prevented from fleeing out of the country on a private jet, stopped by airport police, and has now been officially declared a fugitive from justice whilst his nephew has already appeared in court. The state electricity utility Eskom’s entire board has been replaced. The NPA is under pressure to reinstate the corruption charges against Zuma as his strategy of appeals has been exhausted.
These developments have given the impression that Ramaphosa means business. He thus comes to power carrying the hopes of all sections of society. But herein lies the contradiction. The expectations of the capitalist class and the working class are irreconcilable. Ramaphosa is the candidate of big business. His entire career has constituted preparation for the role the capitalist ruling class has thrust on him and he has enthusiastically placed himself at their disposal.
He earned his spurs during his role in the defeat of the historic 1987 mineworkers strike as secretary general of the National Union of Mineworkers he was founder member of. He forged close ties with big business in the 1980s in the Urban Foundation, established to create the basis for the development of a black capitalist class as the strategists of capital became increasingly alarmed by the socialist consciousness that had developed especially in Cosatu. He played a leading role in crafting the constitution of SA’s pro-capitalist post-apartheid dispensation at the Codesa negotiations. Embittered at being overlooked for the position of deputy to Mandela in the first post-apartheid government, he left politics, failed to attend Mandela’s inauguration and got on with the business of becoming a billionaire.
He comes to power when rating agencies are demanding savage austerity measures to avoid a further downgrade. Given the state of the world economy, and lack of demand in the domestic economy because of the levels of poverty, there is in fact little incentive to invest at home and no way out on the world market.
Ramaphosa’s spring will therefore be short-lived. For this reason it is not excluded that Ramaphosa may call an early election. The birth of the new SA Federation of Trade Unions in 2017 represented the first steps towards the working class reclaiming its political and class independence. The debate on the establishment of a workers party must be concluded urgently and a workers party established. In 2012, Cosatu’s own survey of shop stewards’ political attitudes found that 67% were in favour of the establishment of a workers party. In 2013 the EFF was launched exploiting this mood with populist radical nationalism. After the 2016 local government elections, the EFF revealed its class character by entering into a coalition with the DA – which it denounces as racist party of “white monopoly capital”. Behind this hypocrisy lies its real ambition – to be part of a pro-capitalist coalition.
Under Zuma the ANC’s electoral support has declined to the point where in 2016, it lost 8% from just two years before to 54% and relinquished control in three major metros – Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela. Its vote was reduced to 34% of the eligible voting population.
In 2013 Numsa itself resolved at its special national congress to establish a workers party. The Saftu NEC has the opportunity to put an end to this undue delay. It must set a date for the launch a mass workers party on a socialist programme that will unite community, students and work place struggles
Now we step up the campaign to end all precarious work!
by Weizmann Hamilton, Johannesburg WASP
Picture: #OMF protest outside Gauteng legislature on 22 February 2017
The Workers and Socialist Party welcomes the announcement by the City of Johannesburg that 4,000 security guards will be insourced. We look forward to the full implementation of this commitment after a long, and in our view, unnecessary delay. We hope such delays will not affect the cleaners who Mayor Mashaba is now publicly committed to insourcing as well.
For the workers to enjoy “the dignity of fair pay, stable employment and benefits available to employees of the City” workers are entitled, as a minimum, to the full R9,500 – the difference between the R14,000 paid to the contractor parasites who treated workers as slaves and the R4,500 workers received as pay, as well as all the benefits agreed in the bargaining council between the unions and South African Local Government Association (Salga). This will take the security guards’ salaries to R14,000. The workers must also be granted direct representation in the bargaining council.
The recognised unions led by Cosatu had turned their backs on the workers, concentrating on corruption and class collaboration with the bosses. Nehawu for example refused to allow membership of outsourced or labour broker workers. Cosatu has now hypocritically hailed this agreement and denounced as “doubting Thomases” those who are legitimately skeptical over it. Cosatu, many of whose affiliate’s leaders had vested interests in outsourced and labour broking companies, has ignored the possibilities of using the 2014 labour law amendments to enforce the banning of labour broking through shop floor action by workers themselves, begging the ANC to pass legislation to ban it instead. Now the Gauteng ANC has once again showed its true class colours by denouncing the agreement as “unaffordable”.
This decision is a complete vindication of #OMF’s 2-year campaign for permanent, decent jobs and a minimum wage of R10,000. This outcome is not the result of a conversion on the road to Damascus by a leader of a neo-liberal DA who originally came to office promising wholesale privatisation and the break-up of e.g. PikitUp. It is the fruit of the struggles of workers under the #OMF banner, thousands of whom still suffer the indignity of exploitation. Mashaba’s statement makes no commitment, for example, to the eradication of make-work schemes like Jozi@Work. Instead Mashaba has used Jozi@work workers as a political football in their rivalry with the ANC – the architects of this scheme of exploitation.
Mashaba has hailed the EFF for its support. This may be the EFF’s reward for propping up an administration led by a xenophobe whose party they continue to describe as a “racist party of white monopoly capital”. Workers will of course take this victory from whence it comes. But we must be forgiven our skepticism over both the DA and the EFF’s motives. The EFF rejected a similar resolution drafted for them by the #OMF for the eradication of outsourcing in Tshwane as they have now moved in the City of Joburg. Why?
We are entitled to ask if this is not a case of both parties, neither of whom on their own could win sufficient support to form an administration on their own in the three metros they now control, rewarding each other for making it possible to form and administration? Like two convicts who have escaped form the prison of electoral rejection chained to each other, they are engaged in a dress rehearsal for the role they both hope to repeat at a national level with an ANC involved in a fight for survival as the dominant party of government.
The EFF may have temporarily fooled 1.3m voters desperate for an alternative to the left of the ANC with their radical rhetoric in the 2014 general elections, only to jump into bed with the “racist party of white monopoly capital” in 2016. But the bosses are not fooled. Just as they realised that Mugabe had the habit of spouting radical phrases before implementing neo-liberal policies in Zimbabwe, so too in SA the bosses have seen through the EFF’s radical posturing and are comfortable with the idea of a pro-capitalist coalition including the EFF in 2019. This is why Business Day’s Peter Bruce has suggested to Ramaphosa that is time to talk to Malema (BD 08/02/18).
Both Mashaba and the EFF must demonstrate their seriousness by ensuring the replication of this agreement firstly across all services in the City of Johannesburg, and secondly across all municipalities where they are engaged in this same vat-en-sit coalition in Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay. We want to see this also in the DA-controlled Cape Town and in the metros like Ekulhureni and municipalities like Rustenburg where the EFF has influence.
Most important of all we demand that both the DA and the EFF publicly call for the example they have now set in the city of Joburg to be emulated across the entire public sector – provincial and national government and parastatals for the eradication of all forms of precarious work. But we will not hold our breath. We will, continue our campaign. Gauteng Premier Makhura must keep to his word. We have been negotiating for more than a year with the Gauteng Legislature with their commitments to ensure that our demands are taken to national government. We will now step up the mass action. If the DA can make a concession to the demands of the workers so should the ANC.
#OMF has saved hundreds of jobs through mass action including occupations. Despite their ulterior motives, the DA/EFF have set a precedent and vindicated our campaign. We call upon the slaves of the precariat – those exploited by outsourcing, labour broking and all forms of precarious work – to swell the ranks of #OMF to fight for decent permanent jobs and a minimum wage of R10,000 a month.
For WASP the OMF campaign is an essential part of the strategy of organising the unorganized, mobilising the forces for the challenges ahead not only in the workplace but on the political plane. With the ANC in crisis, the bourgeois has thrown its weight behind the butcher of Marikana, Ramaphosa, who is poised to become the country’s president at the head of an ANC government or an ANC-led pro-capitalist coalition. He is armed for an escalation of the class war with a minimum wage fit for slaves, an arsenal of weapons to undermine the right to strike and savage austerity measures to “solve” the economic crisis created by the capitalists at the expense of the working class.
We must supplement our struggles in the workplace with a struggle on the political plane and campaign for a mass workers party on a socialist programme.
No to profiteering!
by Rose Lichtenstein, Cape Town WASP
Cape Town is facing its worst drought in almost 100 years. Rainfall was at a 100 year low two years in a row, and the dams that supply 98% of Cape Town’s potable water are currently only 26% full. The biggest, Theewaterskloof Dam, is only at 13%. Once a dam is below 10%, it becomes very difficult to extract water. This is the reality Cape Town is faced with today.
The City of Cape Town has pushed the narrative that ‘Day Zero’ will happen, and the only way to avoid it, is to reduce individual water usage. Day Zero is supposedly the day the taps will run dry, because there is no water left in the dams. Four million Capetonians will have to collect a 25 litre daily allocation of water from less than 200 water collection points. Schools, hospitals, and the CBD will not have their water turned off.
What is missing from the news is the fact that the City of Cape Town reported water loss at a rate of 106 million litres per day due to infrastructure failures for 2017 – 20 million litres per day more than that of 2015 and 2016. That amounts to 19.3% of the current demand of about 550 million litres per day. When we take this and the agricultural use into account, residential usage amounts to a mere 63 litres per person per day.
Despite this evidence of significant savings from residents, the government continues to fear monger with talks about Day Zero, unjustly scolding the people for not doing their share to save water. Blackmail tactics are being used to install water management devices, with false promises to fix leaks and write-off inflated water bills, limiting households to 200 litres of water per day. When leaks are not fixed, this allocation runs out within hours before automatic shut-off engages. This leaves the household with nothing until 4am the next day. Note that the allocation is calculated on the City’s clearly false assumption that an “average” household consists of four individuals – just another indictment on the City’s complete disconnect from the people it supposedly serves.
As far back as the 90s scientists have warned the City of Cape Town that a decline in rainfall and incline in population would lead to a water supply shortage. At the root of this crisis lies a lack of planning for alternative water supply and storage options, as well as negligence in maintaining existing municipal infrastructure that make up the water supply system. This ultimately indicates a failure by all levels of government to the people of Cape Town, but currently city, provincial, and national governments are too busy playing politics to engage in meaningful public consultation to explore rational, affordable, and sustainable solutions.
Profiteering from disaster
The one unifying factor amidst the petty squabbling of the career politicians is the beckoning of a lucrative desalination public-private partnership. Make no mistake, the only role of the public in these partnerships is to ensure the private sector can profit off the resources that constitutionally and ethically belong to the people. With projections from the City of Cape Town that one large scale plant will cost R14,9 billion to implement and R1,2 billion per year to run, it is clear that government is using the conditions of crisis to rush through a tender that will impact the people of Cape Town for generations. The only question seems to be, which party gets to award this lucrative tender?
Regardless of the environmental impact, massive energy requirement, and unaffordability of extracting fresh water from the sea, these plants take 2-3 years to build and therefore make for a terrible intervention in a drought. Immediate interventions – such as removing water-guzzling alien vegetation from the areas surrounding supply dams and their catchment areas; fixing all leaks on public and private property; updating and maintenance of infrastructure; extracting groundwater sustainably with artificial recharge; recycling wastewater; and harvesting the water of the Camissa springs currently flowing underneath the CBD through sewers and storm water drains into the ocean – have the potential to not only increase our water supply in a matter of weeks, but provide many jobs and training opportunities for residents.
WASP has joined more than 70 organisations from various backgrounds in forming the Water Crisis Coalition (WCC). The main aim of the WCC is to reject the privatization of our water and the fear mongering of Day Zero, and explore sustainable and rational water management options. The WCC has grown in less than a month’s time to include several community committees. The coalition has successfully pressured AB InBev (formerly SABmiller) to open to the public 24/7 the spring they claim ‘heritage rights’ to, increase the access points of the spring, and provide paid security during the night. Currently the WCC is pushing for distribution of the spring water to communities that cannot access it.
On 28 January the WCC organized a protest against the mismanagement of our water by all tiers of government. Hundreds of concerned citizens participated in voicing their frustrations, community-specific struggles, and handing over the WCC memorandum to the Minister of Water and Sanitation. The Western Cape Premier and Cape Town Mayor chose to ignore the invitations extended to them by the coalition.
Efforts to meet with all tiers of government have proven a waste of time, with ministry officials for the National Department of Water and Sanitation indicating that “harmonizing relations” between the DA-led city and province and the ANC-led national government must happen before a public consultation process can occur. While government sits in boardrooms shifting blame and negotiating their slices of the desalination pie, it is clear that the WCC’s energy is better spent in continuing to organize communities, schools, and workplaces, and build a true mass movement against the rush to privatize our resource.
We Stand For:
- Free, sufficient and accessible water for all; STOP cut-offs, metering, punitive tariffs/levies and Water Management Devices!
- A rational water plan managed by democratically elected committees from the communities affected.
- The responsible use, recycling, and rehabilitation of our water resources to ensure its health for future generations.
- NO TO PRIVATIZATION—stop robbing the working class and poor of their water. Kick out the tenderpreneurs!
- FIX THE LEAKS—maintenance and infrastructure public works initiatives that prevent water wastage and provide permanent, well-paid jobs.
- STOP THE LOOTING: Private water bottling companies and breweries must pay for using our water! Luxury tax on unnecessary water guzzling entities like golf courses and wine exporters.
- Protect whistleblowers! Workers reps to ensure full compliance of industry with water restriction measures. No loss of pay or jobs from production slowdowns.
- NO TO FEAR MONGERING AND SCARE TACTICS—Democratic control of disaster relief. Community assemblies to elect accountable and recallable representatives to scrutinise all disaster relief processes in their community.
- Nationalization of commercial farms that control 95% of agricultural land, and implementation of sustainable agricultural water practices. Farms should be in harmony with the community, not competing with us for resources.
This article appeared as the editorial of Izwi Labasebenzi in Issue No. 2 of 2017.
Cover image: the image of the worker holding a placard with the slogan “we would rather stick with ‘corruption’ that feeds our kids, than ‘change’ that starves them” appeared on a march in Tshwane on 26 January organised by various ANC organisations. We do not agree that the only options that working class people face are to accept corruption or face job losses, as we explain below. But the message underlines the huge vacuum that exists with no party genuinely representing the interests of workers.
A dress rehearsal for propping up capitalism
In 2016 the EFF assisted the DA to power in Tshwane, Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB). In recent weeks they have threatened to collapse the same DA-led minority administrations. This has raised important questions about the tactics needed for using elected positions in the capitalist state to push forward the interests of workers, the poor and youth.
The working class needs its own party. But it could not be ‘like all the others’ – asking for a vote once every five years and then simply leaving everything to councillors and MPs in between. A party genuinely representing the interests of the working class and poor majority would first and foremost be a party of struggle – organising and mobilising workers, the poor and the youth to campaign for permanent jobs, living wages, decent service delivery and free education.
The role of workers’ MPs and councillors would be to support struggle. Elected positions would be used to expose the capitalist parties and politicians; to reveal how undemocratic today’s ‘bourgeois’ (i.e. capitalist) democracy is; and, to “speak to the windows” – to the masses outside, popularising the ideas of socialism and the methods of struggle.
Is the EFF the kind of party that the working class needs? Unfortunately, we would have to say no. We believe that the recent experience, especially in Tshwane, has given hard evidence that the EFF is not fundamentally different to the other capitalist parties.
Some might ask: then why talk about them? That is determined by the EFF leadership. It is they who insist that the EFF is a radical alternative. Further, within the new Saftu trade union federation EFF supporters are positioning themselves against the idea of a new workers party on the basis that “we have the EFF”. It is therefore our duty to examine this claim.
The DA-led City of Tshwane is terminating contracts with outsourced security companies. As a result up to 3,000 workers will lose their jobs. But workers have organised to fight. Many are EFF members and expected the EFF councillors to come to their defence. So it came as a shock to find out that the EFF supported the DA’s plan! This is not an isolated episode. The Jozi@Work and Ace Parking workers in Johannesburg also faced job losses at the hands of the DA, with the EFF remaining quiet.
At a mass meeting in June senior EFF leaders and councillors pleaded with workers to agree that new tenders should be issued. The only ‘strategy’ they offered workers was to go and apply for jobs with the new companies! But workers were clear that they wanted to be insourced. EFF leaders were forced to abandon their speeches, shouted-down by a furious crowd. We believe that the EFF leadership hopes to benefit from the new security tenders. But we stand to be corrected. We would welcome a statement from the EFF clarifying that they are opposed to outsourcing in principle and that none of their councillors or leaders will benefit from this super-exploitation of workers.
The EFF was nevertheless forced to place itself at the head of the security workers campaign but at each step they have acted to divert attention from the inaction of the EFF councillors. When WASP members pointed out that the EFF holds the balance of power in Tshwane, and should use that to save jobs, we have been accused of “playing politics”. We asked the simple question: is the DA mayor’s job more important than the jobs of 3,000 workers? The EFF believes so.
Workers understood that the EFF had the power to force the hand of the DA. At WASP’s suggestion it was agreed to draft a council motion guaranteeing the workers’ jobs. It would only take two councillors to force the council to debate it. We argued that surely the EFF would sponsor the motion. Then it would be for the DA and ANC to vote it down. However, we suspected that the ANC would support the motion in order to frustrate the DA. This was a danger for the EFF leadership – that the motion might succeed!
Confirming our suspicions, WASP members were then removed from the security workers’ WhatsApp group and the committee meeting venue changed. To our knowledge the motion was thrown in the bin to protect the EFF councillors and their business aspirations.
But the EFF was willing to threaten the collapse of all three DA-led minority administrations over the sacking of NMB UDM deputy mayor Bobani. In response to this, EFF councillors boycotted council meetings paralysing the DA administrations. They said this was to teach the DA how to work with small parties. But this was posturing and not part of a serious strategy to bring down these anti-working class administrations. The EFF were in their seats for the September council meetings without any explanation of why they were again able to work with the DA.
In Mogale City, Julius Malema himself publicly threatened disciplinary action against EFF councillors who voted with the ANC to pass a budget. It was not the content of the budget that was the problem it was that the councillors gave support to the ANC.
The EFF’s tactics are focused entirely on squabbles with other capitalist parties over who is to profit from control of the capitalist state. They have no vision for how to use their councillors to advance the struggles of the working class. On the contrary the EFF appears to be using its local government positions as a dress rehearsal for the role they hope to play nationally after the 2019 elections. There is a strong possibility that the ANC may not be able to win enough votes to govern on its own, forcing it to look for coalition partners. The EFF’s actions in Tshwane, Joburg and NMB show that their leadership has no problem with bending principles to fit opportunist objectives. If the EFF is prepared to prop up neo-liberal administrations in the metros why would they not be prepared to play the same role in a pro-capitalist coalition at a national level where the spoils of office are much greater?
The need for a socialist mass workers party with accountable and recallable pubic representatives, earning no more than the average wage of a skilled worker, has not been answered by the EFF.
by Shaun Arendse, Tshwane WASP
On 17 January the ‘public violence’ charges against Austin Mofyoa were dropped and the state’s case against him dismissed. This is an important victory against the attempts to criminalise protest in general and to suppress the struggle against outsourcing in particular.
Austin is an #OutsourcingMustFall activist, branch secretary of the GIWUSA union’s Pretoria branch and a member of WASP’s National Committee.
On 4 February 2016 he was arrested outside of the main campus of Tshwane University of Technology. Outsourced cleaners, security guards, caterers and landscape workers were in the third week of a strike. They were fighting to be insourced and for their poverty-level pay of R2-3,000 per month to be raised to R10,000. The strike was of course ‘illegal’, or ‘unprotected’. This is because it is virtually impossible to organise a protected strike of outsourced workers. Undermining and weakening the position of organised labour is a key reason that the bosses and their politicians – parties like the ANC and the DA – support outsourcing. But workers were determined to fight to end their super-exploitation and Austin was prepared, side-by-side with all the members of WASP’s Tshwane branch, to support them. This was part of a Tshwane-wide strike across the higher education sector organised under the banner of #OutsourcingMustFall.
Austin was identified as a ‘leader’ by management and the police early on. His name appeared on an injunction taken out by TUT management. The day of his arrest the police targeted him directly in an attempt to ‘behead’ the strike. This suppression came on top of management threatening workers with mass dismissal for protesting, and even an organised attack on the picket line orchestrated by the ANC’s SASCO student organisation and the ANC-linked Nehawu union. That must have involved the TUT management. Workers suffered serious injuries in the attack but it was Austin who was later arrested for ‘public violence’!
Over the next 23 months Austin appeared in Atteridgeville magistrates court a shocking 20 times. Every time the case was postponed due to technicalities. This was an attempt to demoralise and wear-down Austin, and to limit his ability to fight for workers by keeping the threat of prison or a huge fine over his head as a deterrent.
Showing the complete hypocrisy of the criminal-‘justice’ system, throughout this time not a single boss or company has been prosecuted by the state and taken to court for their failure to ban labour broking (of which outsourcing is one of its forms). This is despite the law changing at the start of 2015 to say that after three months employment, temporary workers must be made permanent. In the strike of 2016 the workers were just demanding that the bosses implement the law.
But with vital assistance from a Lawyers for Human Rights legal team, the judge finally ruled that the state “had no case”. However this final ruling does not excuse how for nearly two years the legal system was used as a weapon for the suppression of the workers movement and the struggle against outsourcing.
Ultimately, the state is controlled by the ruling class and used to defend their interests. From time to time they are forced to pass pro-worker laws, not because they want to, but to give them a way to manage the class struggle that their exploitative system provokes. However, they will always find a way to frustrate workers on ‘the legal route’ if their vital interests are at stake.
Management does the same. They will enter agreements with workers when they have no choice – i.e. being forced to in a strike. But will tear-up any agreement as soon as they get the opportunity. This is what ended-up happening at TUT. Shortly after Austin’s arrest the strike achieved victory and an insourcing agreement was signed. This was not least because workers remained united and showed the police that they would not be scared by arrests and intimidation. Dismissals were reversed and workers went back to work. But as soon as TUT management felt strong enough, they started to back-track. Despite the agreement, management is refusing to insource the catering and security workers and has issued new tenders in recent months.
Workers can only rely on their own strength by building fighting and democratic trade unions to win victories, and crucially, to defend their gains. The struggle against outsourcing continues.
CWI supporter Mohamed Diaeldin Mohamed Satti, 21, known as “Hamudi”, is among the protesters who have been arrested by the Sudanese State last week, as part of the brutal response of Al Bashir’s regime to the ensuing wave of protests against skyrocketing prices and austerity. Hamudi’s arrest took place last Wednesday afternoon, as he participated in a peaceful march in central Khartoum.
Reportedly more than 400 political activists and protesters are currently detained in the country, including nine members of the political bureau of the Sudanese Communist Party, leading members of the National Umma Party, and long-standing female activist Ilham Malik Salman Ahmed. This hysterical campaign of mass arrests has extended to include Sudanese and foreign journalists who were reporting about the protests, and highlights the regime’s fear that any form of even mild criticism of its policies could be the spark that lit the fuse of a mass revolt.
According to protesters who have been released, the security services are forcing the detainees to sign a document pledging to stop engaging in any demonstrations or political activities in the future. Those who have refused to sign, like Hamudi, have been kept inside. The prisoners are refused visits by their families, have had their heads shaved off and are being physically mistreated.
The CWI demands the immediate release of Mohamed Satti “Hamudi” along with all the other political prisoners. We call on all our supporters internationally to protest to the Sudanese authorities, embassies and consulates around the world to that effect. We call on all who can to express their solidarity with Hamudi and the other detainees by sending photos and messages of support to firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Lebohang Phanyeko, Johannesburg WASP
Workers employed by the Jozi@Work scheme are employed across Joburg to pick up refuse and litter. Many have been on contract since the beginning of the scheme introduced by ANC mayor Parks Tau. It is supposedly a ‘job creation’ scheme but in reality it is a programme for the super-exploitation of labour by parasitic outsourcing companies.
The new DA administration continued with Jozi@Work, but new mayor Herman Mashaba’s objective is to terminate the program citing corruption by the previous administration. But corruption is not the fault of ordinary workers.
It is clear that Mashaba’s and the DA’s election promise that they will create more jobs in the city is back in the cold fridge! Workers’ contracts are administered by multi-million Rand outsourcing BEE company “Waste Group” which manages Jozi@Work on behalf of the municipality’s Piki-Tup. But instead of creating real jobs they ‘recycle’ jobs. They don’t even call workers ‘workers’ but ‘beneficiaries’ as an excuse for denying them their rights and in reality retrenching them. They ‘recycle’ jobs by bringing in new ‘beneficiaries’, claiming they are “giving others an opportunity”. No doubt they are paid per ‘work opportunity’ created rather than the total number employed!
These workers have organised under the banner of #OutsourcingMustFall to fight back and for those that have lost their jobs when they are ‘recycled’ to be reinstated. Workers are demanding that Waste Group is kicked out and workers employed full-time by Piki-Tip. To support these demands workers occupied Piki-Tup’s Joburg offices on 11 January. Discussions are still underway with Piki-Tup management to find solution – but as a result of the occupation, fresh talks have been promised for next week.
by Bongani Mazibuko, Soshanguve WASP
Residents of Soshanguve in block AA protested on 10 January against continuous water shortages due to the old infrastructure of pipes that burst regularly, street lights that are not working, potholes and damaged tar roads due to lack of storm water channels and no prospect of employment in the community projects which are only given to people connected to ANC and DA.
The issues were reported to Tshwane municipality. They came to inspect on Monday for three minutes and left saying they were coming back with tools to fix the problems. They never returned. On Tuesday they were called and never came. By Wednesday the community had had enough with struggling to get something as basic as water. They decided to go on to the streets since the councillor of the ANC was failing to provide leadership.
Members of the community are tired of been taken for a ride by an ANC councillor who fails to attend to community grievances in block AA only creating ‘forums’ which the community know nothing about but claim they’re ‘representatives’ of our section in the councillors office! We didn’t see these people over the past four days when we had no water. Where were those self-imposed representatives or the councillor?
As soon as tyres and stones were used to barricade the four way stop at blocks AA,BB and DD the police and metro came. We spoke with them and they assured us they will call the municipality water service department to fix the water. The community entered negotiations with the police from Pretoria North and reached a consensus that the councillor needed to come. When he was reached on the phone he promised to send his representative within 10 minutes because he was in a meeting to address our issues – the streets lights, damaged tar roads with potholes and for the unemployed to be considered for the posts in the community projects that are happening in our section.
Instead of this, whilst the community was sitting waiting for the councillor’s representative, chatting amongst themselves, the police walked over to us with their guns loaded. They told us to disperse. While we were leaving they opened fire with rubber bullets. Three community members were shot in the back, one community leader was shot four times – in the right leg, back shoulder, left arm and leg – and one bystander from the community shot in chest upper left next to the heart.
After leaving the community without water for days, failing to address all the other issues, this is how residents are treated! The water is now restored and the councillor has agreed to a meeting on 15 January. Would this have happened if we had not protested?
Click here for WASP’s service delivery programme of action