The COSATU Central Executive Committee (CEC) met on 7 November and decided to expel its biggest affiliate, the National Union of Metalworkers (NUMSA). This brings to a head a process which started when NUMSA decided at its December 2012 Congress to break with the Tripartite Alliance, get involved with working class community struggles – which they call a United Front – and investigate a Movement for Socialism and the possibility of a new political party.
The response of the elite
NUMSA’s decision has seen it face the full wrathful might of the state, the ANC and its allies – with the SACP notably leading the way in gutter politics and attacks on NUMSA leaders.
These attacks are also being waged outside the formal meetings of COSATU. Three NUMSA shop stewards in Kwazulu-Natal have been assassinated; at its Conference on Socialism in September, a French socialist was detained at OR Tambo airport and summarily expelled. NUMSA has been also been attacked in its bank account with its agency fees held back and the Department of labour refusing to register NUMSA’s revised Constitution – in which it extend its scope, in keeping with its decision to welcome workers across sectors.
First published online here http://www.sacsis.org.za/site/article/2328
Various columnists and opposition politicians, whether from the Democratic Alliance or the Economic Freedom Fighters, have repeatedly called for Zuma’s head. They want him out and it is often insinuated that if he was gone things would be so much better. The latest round in this saga has been the recent vote of no confidence that was tabled by the opposition in Parliament.
Certainly Zuma’s Presidency has been defined by nonstop scandal. There have been clear instances of him using his position for personal gain. News headlines have also repeatedly highlighted how members of his family, along with his allies, have benefitted from state tenders, or have been drawn into partnerships with certain capitalists, such as the Guptas.
Beyond this there have been outrages such as Marikana; the militarisation of the police; and the police being deployed in Parliament. Zuma too has even been accused of intervening via his Minsters and appointees to remove people in institutions such as the Hawks and the South African Revenue Services (SARS) that have allegedly threatened to investigate the financial scandals surrounding him and his allies.
In other words patronage and growing repression have been features of Zuma’s tenure.
Is it just Zuma?
The year 2015 started with a bang in Greece as Syriza (‘Coalition of the Radical Left’) won the national elections with 36% of the vote. Falling just two seats short to govern on its own, the party entered into an alliance with ANEL, a right-wing nationalist party that is hostile to the austerity policies imposed by the Troika (comprising the European Union, the European Central Bank and the IMF) but is also vehemently anti-immigrant.
While the share of the votes of PASOK (the Greek ‘socialist’ party) dropped from 44% in 2009 to 4,8%, New Democracy (rightwing conservative party) lost more than half of the seats it won in 2012.
A number of relatively new political formations on the left, such as Podemos in Spain, Die Linke in Germany, the New Anti-Capitalist Party in France, have previously contested elections on an anti-austerity and anti-neoliberal platform.
However, Syriza is the first to win enough votes to enter into a coalition and form a government.
A significant section of the South African working class have come to the conclusion that the problems confronting the working class can only be resolved through collective struggles. Many among the working class – both unemployed and employed – have also realised that they can no longer depend on others, especially political parties and those in power, to resolve problems confronting the working class. It is due to this recognition that we are witnessing an increase in the number of militant community protests in diverse sections of South Africa’s working class communities.
Other manifestations of this trend has been an increase in wildcat strikes since the Marikana massacre, inspired by the courage that was displayed by platinum mineworkers despite state brutality. Such militancy was also expressed in 2014’s five month long platinum mine workers strike that was led by AMCU.
A key feature of the new community struggles is that community members themselves are initiating it, not the ruling ANC alliance, previously so dominant in working class areas, nor by SANCO, an ANC-aligned civic formation. In fact, many of those involved in community struggles are suspicious and distrustful of political parties due to the failure of the former liberation movement to realise their expectations and demands.