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Platinum strike still on as mining bosses consider workers’ counter-proposals

The AMCU-led strike in the platinum mines is still going on, despite last week’s expectations of an imminent settlement. As mass meetings have been held across the Rustenburg and Thabazimbi shafts over the past few days, workers have formulated conditions which they want met before calling off the strike. These have been presented to the employers, and further moves can only be expected once they respond. The initial reaction has been to repeat the claims that the workers’ demands are ‘unaffordable’ and ‘unrealistic’, which still ring as hollow as they did in January – the major mines made average profits of R39bn in 2011, for example, and have enjoyed profit margins ten times the average on JSE over the past 13 years.

The Workers and Socialist party continues to stand in solidarity with the platinum workers at this critical point of their struggle for a R12 500 living wage. Enduring enormous sacrifices, these workers have done the entire labour movement a service by placing the struggle for a living wage for all on the agenda. What is now posed is whether to take that struggle further through this particular strike or to call it off for now to gather strength for further battles.

As WASP has consistently pointed out, taking the struggle for R12 500 onwards requires that the platinum workers are backed up by workers throughout not only the mining industry but the economy as a whole – what is needed is nothing less than a general strike in support of the struggle for R12 500 and also for the nationalisation under worker- and community control of the mines. Mining communities and other poor communities across South Africa, which desperately need the jobs and the development that publicly owned mines could provide, should also be mobilised. If AMCU is prepared to take this route, more could still be won.

But if the majority of workers feel that the settlement which is currently being negotiated is as far as this battle can be taken for now with workers’ unity and morale maintained, it should be recognised that the increases of about R1000 per year would be quite unprecedented – and that they would represent a victory in itself, and an important platform from which to continue the struggle. The increases on the table range from 13% to 20%.

Since the employer’s new revised offer was placed on the negotiating table, workers have been subjected to unrelenting pressure to accept it and end the strike. Going into overdrive, the capitalist propaganda machine presented as an ‘agreement in principle’ even before workers had had an opportunity to consider it. The mineworkers were accused of inflicting their suffering upon themselves, of being responsible for the destruction of the Rustenburg economy, the dismal performance of the country’s economy and downgrading by rating agencies. The bosses are in a hurry to see an end to the strike because they fear that the enormous sympathy the mineworkers are enjoying could result in WASP’s call for a general strike gaining momentum.

Regardless of which tactic the platinum workers opt for once the bosses respond, this strike points very sharply to the need for workers and working class communities to continue the struggle for a living wage and for taking up the fight for nationalisation.

If these companies, which extract multibillion-rand-profits, are not prepared to break with the poverty wages this industry rests on, ownership should be taken away from them.

Democratic planning of production could allow the mining industry to provide sustainable, decent jobs on living wages as well as the resources that are badly needed for housing, basic services, education and so on.

How support the mineworkers’ strike?

Four months into the AMCU-led strike in South Africa’s three giant platinum producers, with the bosses, the government and the ruling party and its allies attempting to move in for the kill as the mineworkers are now taking serious strain, many working class people in South Africa and internationally are asking themselves how they can support the workers.

A strike is not just a test of strength between the workers and the employer, but also a battle for the hearts and minds of the public. The fighting strategy in any strike should not only maximise harm to the business of the employer in the shortest possible space of time but also raise the pressure on the employer, the capitalist class as a whole and the government.

For the Workers and Socialist Party (WASP), the most decisive support we can offer is political – mobilising for trade union solidarity action, as well as for support from other workers and communities and from working class people across the country and beyond. WASP is therefore campaigning for a general strike to be called in defence of the platinum workers. We are lobbying NUMSA members, for example, to work to make NUMSA’s offer of solidarity action reality. WASP is working to urgently raise money to support this work and the building of a genuine socialist party rooted in the working class which is critical to the struggles not only of the mineworkers but of the working class as a whole.

With the platinum workers having held out so long without pay, and workers and their families suffering actual starvation, support in the form of food for the day and boosting a strike fund that should be able to provide the strikers with some form of income is also important. WASP applauds AMCU’s initiative to launch a strike fund. Besides providing relief to the workers, the fund could also be an important tool for the rallying of support within mining- and other communities, with other workers and working class organisations. WASP advocates for trade unions to prepare for strikes by using membership fees to build up strike funds, and to account to the members by reporting regularly to workers on fundraising efforts as well as subject the use of the funds to workers’ democratic decision-making.

Victory or defeat in the platinum battle is decisive not only for the workers on strike but for the whole of society. If the bosses, and their line managers in government, succeed in crushing the workers’ heroic struggle they would be emboldened in pushing ahead with further assaults on the working class, such as the attacks on the right to strike in the public sector and the whole National Development Plan-project while it could throw back working class self-confidence and struggles for a long time to come. If the workers win – even if not the full R12 500 – that would on the other hand strengthen the struggle for a living wage and  generally steel the determination of workers, the youth and the unemployed to fight for a greater share of SA’s vast wealth.

WASP has therefore decided to make an extraordinary appeal for support for the platinum strike. We urge all those in support of the strike who have anything to contribute to make money donations to the AMCU strike fund. The details are:

AMCU Strike Fund, Standard Bank, Account Number: 332 748 634, Branch code: 052750

Please use the reference ‘WASP’ when depositing or transferring.

South African ‘Communist’ Party and the ANC blame WASP for platinum strike killings

The latest chapter in the concerted strike-breaking efforts by the anti-worker troika – the mining bosses, the state and the ruling party – is the accusation that the Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) is behind the intimidation and violence linked to the now four-month-long platinum strike. These allegations – as reckless as they are unfounded – were levelled against WASP live on SA FM radio by the South African ‘Communist’ Party’s Solly Mapaila. He was supported by ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, who called into the show. (Mantashe was last year leading the charge against leading WASP member Liv Shange whom he claimed was responsible for the so-called anarchy on the mines.)

This is in line with last week’s claims by the North West police department that ‘political parties’ were fueling strike violence, as well as information WASP has received that the government’s security cluster is holding WASP responsible for intimidation and violence linked to the ongoing platinum strike.

It is clear that the ANC government and the mining bosses, with state forces at their disposal, as soon as the elections were out of the way set in motion a plan to break what is now the longest-ever strike in SA’s democratic history. The media has let a torrent of criticism rain down on the strikers and their union, AMCU, for the hardships they and their families go through four months into ‘no work – no pay’ as well as for allegedly being responsible for the harm their action is said to be causing what is hypocritically referred to as ‘our’ economy

With President Zuma adding to the media howl against the strikers by denouncing the mineworkers’ trade union AMCU as ‘irresponsible’, the three platinum giants – Lonmin, Amplats and Impala Platinum – moved onto a new strike breaking offensive with an sms campaign to ‘assess workers’ willingness to come back to work’. Lonmin immediately after the elections announced its police-supported plan to break the strike (which is protected under SA law). A few days before the planned ‘mass return’ on May 14, four people – three Lonmin workers and the wife of one of the workers – were killed in Marikana. This was quickly labelled strike violence, and followed by assurances by the Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, that SAPS presence in the area would be dramatically stepped up to protect workers returning to work.

The ‘law and order’ regime that has since been imposed on the area is not dissimilar to the virtual local state of emergency instituted in the run up to the Marikana massacre and afterwards. The head of the SAPS’ Independent Complaints Directorate has even warned that he hopes that the police will not be ‘forced’ to fire on workers this time. In a clearly coordinated campaign, the Minister and the National Commissioner of Police, Riah Phiyega, held a press conference in Marikana on the day of the supposed grand opening of the Lonmin shafts. While they proudly held up 5000 arrests made in the area since the August 2012 police massacre on striking workers as evidence that they were ‘not afraid to act’ (against workers), the ‘mass return’ was an abject failure.

At the same time the police in the North West province circulated the claim that ‘political parties’ were behind the strike violence, and WASP was informed by journalists that the state ‘security cluster’ was holding the party responsible for the intimidation of strike-breakers. It is hardly a coincidence that the police’s claims are now echoed by the ANC and its ally the SACP, which have grown increasingly inseparable from the state machinery. The apparent effort by the SACP to step in as the storm troopers for the bosses and the capitalist state is a sign of the government’s sense of alarm over the growing public support for the workers and outrage at the insolence of the bosses – e.g. the Amplats bosses who just rewarded themselves bonuses of R76.4m – and the government’s collaboration with them. As in 2012, when the SACP denounced the Lonmin-workers’ independent action not as a strike but a criminal campaign orchestrated by a ‘Pondoland vigilante mafia’, it is these so-called communists’ job to ensure the strike is defeated.

The first target for the generals of the propaganda war against the strike is, as always, the truth: support for the strike must be equaled with support for killing strike-breakers. The truth is, of course, that WASP has consistently supported the mineworkers’ struggle for a R12 500 living wage while we have as consistently opposed and worked against intimidation and violence as methods of the struggle. While it has not been proven that the recent murders in Marikana are actual cases of strikers killing strike breakers, this is a common tactic in SA – one which the ANC- and SACP-aligned NUM, not least, has allowed to set root. Throughout the involvement of WASP and its founder, the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), in workers’ struggles we have fought against this misguided method as it only furthers division amongst workers and invites police and other state repression. Instead, as in the case of this strike, WASP calls for maximising the efficiency of the struggle for a living wage by calling on AMCU to mobilise the support of all its members, local communities and of all mineworkers and of workers in other sectors – the workers’ movement at large – with the appeal for a general strike for R12 500 and for the use of the mining wealth to eradicate unemployment and poverty. This is the kind of strategy that has the power to sustain the struggle – and that is the real threat which the ‘troika’ wants to break.

WASP secured a right of reply on SA FM – you can listen to the interview with WASP’s Liv Shange here.

No to the mining bosses’ strike-breaking offensive! No to worker-on-worker violence – unite in mobilising for a general strike for R12 500!

The Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) condemns the strike-breaking offensive launched by Lonmin this week and calls on workers in the platinum sector to counter the employers’ divide-and-rule tactics by rallying the support of all mineworkers, poor communities and workers across South Africa behind their demand for a R12 500 living wage. It is clear that the platinum bosses, with Lonmin at the head, with the full backing of the government are attempting to deal the strike a mortal blow this week. Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has made clear that the government is, once again, availing its police to serve the mining bosses against the workers. A state of emergency in all but name is likely to be unleashed on Marikana in particular as from tomorrow to back up the divisive attempts by Lonmin, soon to be followed by Impala Platinum and Amplats, to effect what they call a ‘mass return’ to work tomorrow (Wednesday May 14).

WASP also condemns the assault and murder of strike-breakers. Since Sunday, at least three Lonmin workers have reportedly been murdered and several others assaulted. Whether these acts are the work of striking workers or agents provocateurs out to provide the justification for a police clamp-down, they express the tragic division of workers which serves only the bosses. The strength of the strike can only be secured through genuine workers’ unity, which must be based on democratic workers’ control over the strike and clear direction. This, again, is the only basis on which the R12 500 demand can be won. Since the beginning of this strike, WASP has warned of the danger of division and called on AMCU to mobilise the support of all mineworkers and mining communities along with workers and working class communities across SA. A general strike is what is posed if we are to defeat the mining bosses.

They are hell-bent on defeating this strike – but not because they “cannot afford” the R12 500. According to the Labour Research Service, the average annual profit of just nine of the major mining companies was R39 billion in 2011 – enough to pay each mineworker R88 000 a month, or to increase the mining workforce times four, creating jobs for 2.3 million workers, on R12 500 a month. Amplats just rewarded its CEO Chris Griffith with R4m bonus, to mention one example of the obscene riches of the preachers of poverty.

As Lonmin CEO Ben Magara told media at a press conference on Monday, the problem with the R12 500 is that “we’d be setting a precedent if we accede to the demand”. The mining industry, the backbone of the SA economy, is built on ultra-cheap labour and massive profit margins as well as total disregard for the environment and the development of the wider economy and society. They are prepared to use every trick in the book not to rock that boat. To give in to the AMCU-led workers would also be a serious political set-back for the bosses and the government – they are out to kill not only this strike, but the very idea that workers’ mass action has the power to force meaningful concessions out of them.

WASP applauds AMCU’s decision to set up a strike fund. However, for the fund to be effective in sustaining the unity and determination of the strike, it needs a serious cash injection that can be paid out to the tens of thousands of workers who are taking strain after almost four months without pay. We call on AMCU to use the funds accumulated through the membership fees of its over 100 000 members to sustain the striking workers.

WASP was formed by mineworkers’ strike committees together with the Democratic Socialist Movement, which played a key role along with the strike committees in leading the strike wave which followed the Marikana massacre in 2012. WASP contested the elections that took place last week as one of the means by which to build a new political party for workers and poor people. Although we did not get enough votes to win a seat, we are determined to continue the battle to build a party that can unite the working class under the banner of struggle and socialism. WASP stood in the elections on the R12 500 demand as well as on the struggle for the nationalisation of the whole mining industry under democratic control by workers and communities, linking these issues to the need to overthrow the capitalist system and create a socialist society.

WASP stands for building strong, worker-controlled and fighting trade unions. We do not support the ‘WAU’, which we believe is a creation of the bosses and the government to divide and confuse workers. We have concerns over issues such as corruption, democratic workers’ control and fighting strategy when it comes to the AMCU leadership but we urge all AMCU members to stay inside AMCU and organise to investigate and correct any such wrongs. In particular, we cannot afford division when faced with a major battle such as this strike. It is precisely for that reason, however, that we must defend democratic and free discussion and engagements within the union and allow all the best fighters to play a part in taking the struggle forward.

General strike now for R12 500 victory! Step up and unite the struggle to win!

Gold mine workers united during the 2012 strike.

Gold mine workers united during the 2012 strike.

The Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) supports the strike for a living wage of R12 500 a month. We salute the willingness to fight and sacrifice shown over more than three months of strike action. But determination alone does not guarantee victory. To defeat the mining bosses the action needs to be stepped up! WASP calls on AMCU and on all mineworkers to mobilise the active support of all unions in mining as well as in all other sectors with the call for a general strike for R12 500! Support from  working class communities must also be rallied.

It’s a lie that R12 500 is ‘not affordable’. SA’s mineral wealth is estimated to R25 trillion! According to the Labour Research Service, the average annual profit of just nine of the major mining companies was R39 billion in 2011 – enough to pay each mineworker R88 000 a month, or to increase the mining workforce times four, creating jobs for 2.3 million workers, on R12 500 a month. The same year the average remuneration of mining CEOs was R20,2 million. It would take the typical mineworker 390 years to earn what his/her boss earns in one year.

The real obstacle to a living wage is capitalism – the private ownership of the means of production and the rule of ‘the market’ and its hunger for profits. Amplats, for example, promises its shareholders a 39% profit margin. It is below this level they claim operations become ‘unviable’. The struggle for a living wage must therefore be linked to the struggle for the nationalisation of the whole mining industry as part of the overthrow of the capitalist system and the creation of a socialist society. This means uniting workers, poor communities and -youth in struggle for the take-over of the mines and other big business under democratic worker and community control. WASP was created by mineworkers’ strike committees and the Democratic Socialist Movement after the strike for R12 500 in 2012 to take these struggles forward.

WASP stands for building strong, worker-controlled and fighting trade unions. We do not support the ‘WAU’, which we believe is a creation of the bosses and the government to divide and confuse workers. We have concerns over issues such as corruption, democratic workers’ control and fighting strategy when it comes to the AMCU leadership but we urge all AMCU members to stay inside AMCU and organise to investigate and correct any such wrongs.

WASP is contesting the election on May 7. Our candidates are mineworkers, working and unemployed activists. If elected, all WASP MPs will continue to live on workers’ wages instead of the R900 000/ year that all other party MPs pocket.

VIVA DES – SOUTH DURBAN VOTE WASP!

The Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) congratulates Des D’Sa on winning the Goldman Environmental Prize.

We acknowledge Des’ decades-long commitment to the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) and the people of South Durban, that has on occasion resulted in personal risk.

However, despite the heroic efforts of SDCEA the refineries have not been held accountable and the port expansion is going ahead.

It now time to consider new strategies and alliances in this struggle. There must be a political alternative that will take up these issues ignored by other parties.

We therefore call on Des and SDCEA to urge the people of South Durban to vote for WASP as the only party actively campaigning against the Port Expansion.

WASP candidates, if elected, will not be paid more than the wage of a skilled worker e.g. a mechanic or electrician and will be subject to recall. They are ordinary workers and community activists with records of struggle and hard work. WASP MP’s will vigorously defend the interest of the people of South Durban as we are not like other parties indebted to capitalism.

WASP is the only party contesting these elections on a clear socialist programme rooted in day-to-day struggles. We are contesting the elections as one step on the way to build the mass struggles and movements needed to overturn the dictatorship that capital is exercising over people and environment. WASP supports marches, protests, occupations and other actions organised by SDCEA. We are prepared to assist SDCEA wherever needed, for example by organising media campaigns, making posters, and hosting public speakers.

WASP stands for:

  • An independent worker and community-led commission to find the best way to develop an integrated port and city: it should prioritise moving freight (containers) to rail and improving the efficiency of existing infrastructure.
  • Moratorium (No more) on polluting industry
  • The refineries & other big business must pay for destroying our environment and health – enforce meaningful fines for violations, failure to meet regulations must lead to nationalisation and redirection of polluting industry under democratic control by workers and communities; no job losses.
  • Rapid redirection of energy generation towards renewable sources such as solar, wind, wave and geothermal power, and biomass power based on waste not food crops; replace fossil fuels with renewable ones; massive programme of creating ‘climate jobs’
  • Investment in infrastructure that benefits working class and poor people – for a worker- and community-controlled public works programme building houses, clinics, hospitals, schools, roads, sports and recreational infrastructure.
  • Explore using old airport land for non-industrial purposes such as: market, gardening, aquaculture, small craft harbour and marina.
  • Keep the major part of Clairwood race course as a green lung – no industry.

Tshwane: WASP leads protest of labour broking workers

As Tshwane Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa delivered his State of the City address today Thursday April 3 at a fenced-off, police-guarded red carpet event at the Tshwane City Hall, he was met with hundreds of angry protesters, toyi-toying on the street outside.

The Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) led protesting workers of Capacity labour brokers who came out to remind the Mayor of the City’s broken promises to them. Hundreds of City of Tshwane workers, who have been left unemployed since the City failed to meet its promise to transfer them from labour broking contracts to permanent employment in May 2012 see no other way of raising their plight after almost two years of fruitless engagement with City officials.

The Workers and Socialist Party has supported the City of Tshwane workers’ struggle from the onset. The struggle against labour broking and for permanent jobs on living wages for all is at the centre of WASP’s election manifesto, which was launched in Katlehong over the weekend.

After a series of protests, the City undertook to absorb all the former Capacity workers by April 2013 – again nothing has come out of that promise. With elections imminent, the City has recently showed a renewed interest in the issue and is attempting to silence this persistent struggle by promising the workers ‘job opportunities’ under the Expanded Public Works Programme – which is rejected by the workers with the contempt it deserves.

At the City Hall, the Capacity workers joined street traders who are also protesting against the City’s clamp-down on informal trading. Traders are being forcefully removed from the streets, while the Mayor claims the City has a good relationship with informal traders. Street traders are rightfully outraged that the Metro Police officer they witnessed shooting dead their colleague Foster Rivombo late last year has not even been suspended but is continuing to work the streets of Tshwane.

Residents of The Hill informal settlement in Laudium, who have been struggling for basic services such as electricity and water for the past ten years, also joined the protest.

All organisations were united in their appeal for members not to vote ANC again. The Workers and Socialist Party will continue to bring these constituencies together to mobilise the unified force that is needed to build a truly working-class-led alternative to the ANC.

March against police brutality, xenophobia and racism on March 17

On January 17, Nigerian national Theddaus Duru was tortured unconscious and abducted by police in Benoni. That was the last anyone saw of him.
It is high time to stand up against police killings, torture, intimidation and harassment – for all residents of SA, whether born here or not!
Close to 1000 people die at the hands of the police every year in SA. Hundreds are raped, thousands report beatings, torture etc. Protesters are routinely shot and killed.
Black immigrants and refugees are particularly vulnerable – daily subjected to threats of arrest, deportation, extortion of bribes and xenophobic and racist harassment.
Government and the capitalist system are fueling xenophobia by treating black refugees and immigrants as criminals, by denying us all equal rights to housing, work and other basic needs and then exploiting the vulnerability they create for super-exploitation, abuse and extortion. Our response is to demand equal rights for all. There is enough wealth to provide for all – if only we as the working class take control of it!

The Workers and Socialist Party (WASP), the Nigerian Union of South Africa (NUSA), the Zimbabwe Youth Wing, the United Nigerian Wives of SA (UNWISA), the Socialist Youth Movement (SYM and the African Traders Organisation (ATO) is organising a protest march to the Ministers of Police and Home Affairs on Monday March 17 – join us!

Tshwane assembly is 12h00 at Pretoria Train Station

Johannesburg assembly is 9h00 at Park Station (Joubert/ Plein Street entrance)

For further information, please contact WASP on 081 393 1914 or 079 556 8179.

WASP has registered for the 2014 elections

The Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) has registered for the elections to the national assembly and for the provincial legislatures of North West, Limpopo and Gauteng. The national candidate list was made public at a press conference in Johannesburg today, March 13, 2014

The presidential candidate and number one on WASP’s national list for the 2014 elections is Moses Mayekiso. Moses was a leading trade union activist in the 1970s and 1980s for the Metal & Allied Workers Union (Mawu) of which he became general secretary. Mawu, along with other unions founded Cosatu in 1985 and Mawu was a key founding union of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa). Moses became the first general secretary of the newly created Numsa, elected from jail for his labour movement activism and anti-apartheid activities. Moses was the hero of an international campaign demanding his release and demonstrations to “free Comrade Moss” were held in cities around the world.

Moses was general secretary of Numsa when the union in 1993 adopted a resolution calling for the formation of a workers’ party. In joining WASP and taking his place in the leadership, Moses is retying the knot of history.

Moses was the first president of the South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO – the ‘fourth’ member of the Tripartite Alliance) and has spent recent years working to re-found that movement on genuine socialist principles as the Congress of South African Non-racial Community Movements (COSANCOM) prompted by the abject failure of SANCO to lead the rising tide of service delivery protests.

Moses was an ANC MP 1994-96 but resigned to focus on the crucial grass-roots work of building SANCO in the aftermath of the fall of apartheid and the urgent task of re-building communities.

WASP’s list represents and reflects the working class and poor of South Africa

All the candidates on WASP’s lists for the 2014 elections are workers, trade unionists and community and youth activists. The best people to represent the voice of the working class is working class people themselves. WASP rejects the ‘professionalization’ of politics that takes the view that ordinary people do not have the competence or abilities to assume elected office.

Leading candidates (speaking at today’s press conference) include:

Mametlwe Sebei – key figure in the post-Marikana strike wave August-September 2012

Weizmann Hamilton – general secretary of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), one of the founding organisations of WASP, and long-term anti-apartheid and trade union activist

Liver Mngomezulu – deputy general secretary of the National Transport Movement union (NTM)

Matron Mhlanga – Joburg street trader and executive member of African Traders Organisation (ATO)

Sithembile Nqulo – mineworker, Carletonville

Lebogang Mtsweni – Numsa activist (personal capacity)

Jabulani Madlala – Numsa activist at Toyota factory, Durban (personal capacity)

Paul Gaaje – emergency services worker, Fochville

Nkosinathi Mpopo – mineworker, Rustenburg

 

Workers’ representatives on worker’s wages

The basic salary of MPs in South Africa is R72 000 per month meaning MPs are removed from the day-to-day worries of working class and poor people. They are among the best paid in the entire country and part of a small elite. WASP entirely rejects this privileged position for so-called ‘representatives’ of the people.

All WASP MPs and MPLs will take no more than the average wage of a skilled worker. The additional salary will be ploughed back into the building of WASP and supporting struggles of workers, communities and youth. The salary and all expenses of WASP MPs and MPLs will be available for scrutiny by all South African citizens. WASP will make real use of the ability to remove sitting MPs and MPLs from their position if they become corrupt or do not fully stand by the manifesto of the party. This right of recall will not be vested only in the leadership of WASP, but in the membership of WASP and all WASP affiliates.

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Socialist Youth Movement takes TUT to court in fight against mass eviction of students

The Socialist Youth Movement (SYM), the autonomous youth wing of the Workers and Socialist Party (WASP), along with other student leaders at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) is taking legal action against the TUT management after it has threatened to evict thousands of students from university residences. Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), via advocate Rudolf Jansen, will launch an urgent application to interdict the University’s action at the Pretoria High Court today at 13h00.

–          Closing the residences would place thousands of students on the streets, says Zikho Leshabane, SYM Student Representative Council member at the TUT Main Campus, as most of us are from far and without the means to travel home.

–          The closure and the threat to evict us by force is just an act of repression by the University – they simply want to crush the strike against financial exclusions.

–          This is an unlawful eviction which we are seeking to have stopped in the High Court today, thanks to the assistance from Lawyers for Human Rights.

The SYM is part of leading a strike at TUT, in cooperation with the ANC-aligned SASCO and ANCYL as well as PASMA, after SASCO made the call last week for countrywide protests against the mass exclusions of students which result from the underfunding of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

–          While as SYM we wholeheartedly support the strike call, we want to also ensure that students’ sights are raised to the real roots of the problem we face, says Elmond Magedi, SYM national coordinator, that is; to the ANC-government and its failure to fund the NSFAS in line with the needs of students.

–          The ANC is not failing us out of some accident or misunderstanding but because its foremost priority is to serve the interests of big business, which in South Africa today do not require the mass of working class youth to be highly educated – a select elite is enough for them.

–          We are working to escalate this struggle, linking students with high school learners, communities and workers, to get to these issues, says Mametlwe Sebei, Workers and Socialist Party, and are cautioning SASCO-aligned students not to allow their mother body to mix up the cards here.