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.
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.
Why 21 community leaders at one hostel complex in Durban have been assassinated just in the last year - and we wonder - when will it stop?
Since March last year 21 people have been assassinated at Glebelands Hostel in uMlazi, Durban, over 100 illegally evicted and 4 allegedly tortured by police. One died during interrogation. The last to be slain was Fikile Siyephu, killed Glebe block 49 on 15 February 2015.
“They came to my room just after midnight and asked if I was the 'Commander'. When I said yes, he checked the list. Then he hit me in the stomach with his rifle, pushed me back into my room and demanded to know where my guns were. Other police searched my room. When they couldn't find any guns, they stopped hitting me, two police sat on my legs… and put the plastic bag over my head.”
Thulani Kati was the first witness to confirm the existence of the now infamous Glebelands “hit list” - reportedly a foolscap page containing the names of Hostel block committee members and their associates who are accused of being 'against' local ANC ward councillor, Robert Mzobe. Kati was the third resident since March last year, allegedly tortured by police - who, many claim - collude with politicians to exclude the community from participation in hostel development, purportedly to control lucrative upgrade and service tenders, ensuring a continued flow of resources to provincial party coffers.