Selections from NUMSA’s scathing response to the SACP and ANC leadership

by Sep 23, 2013All Articles


Some choice bits from NUMSA’s response to COSATU

The full text can be found here

13. We have boldly maintained that at the heart of the crisis in COSATU are two opposing forces: the forces of capitalism and the forces socialism. The capitalist forces within the Federation seek to make workers to understand and tolerate the continuation of white monopoly capitalist domination, by accepting elements of the neoliberal NDP. The socialist forces seek to mobilise the working class to break the power of white monopoly capitalism through the implementation of the Freedom Charter as historically understood by the working class.

4. What happened in the height of the debate on nationalisation? We saw opportunism of the highest order. For many years, the revolutionary movement interpreted “the transfer of mineral wealth beneath the soil, banks and monopoly industry to the ownership of the people as a whole” to mean “nationalisation”. Even Cde Ben Turok who drafted the economic clauses of the Freedom Charter, never raised any objection when Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, the SACP and later COSATU interpreted this Freedom Charter clause to mean “nationalisation”. Today, Cde Turok is bold to say the clause was never intended as a call for nationalisation. Yet, there is no historical evidence that he objected to what he now calls a “misinterpretation”.

15. For example, in 1962 the SACP put forward one of the following proposals, within the framework of the Freedom Charter: “In order to ensure South Africa’s indepen­dence, the Party will press for the strengthening of the state sector of the economy, particularly in the fields of heavy industry, machine tool building and fuel production. It will seek to place control of the vital sectors of the economy in the hands of the national demo­cratic state and to correct historic injustice, by demanding the nationalisation of the mining industry, banking and monopoly industrial establishments, thus also laying the founda­tions for the advance to socialism”. Furthermore: “…in order to guarantee the abolition of racial oppression and White minority domination, the Freedom Charter necessarily and realistically calls for profound economic changes: drastic agrarian reform to restore the land to the people; widespread nationalisation of key industries to break the grip of White monopoly capital on the main centres of the country’s economy”.

16. There is no historical evidence that Cde Ben Turok cautioned the Party about “misinterpreting” the Freedom Charter.

Senior leaders of the national liberation movement own shares in the very mines, banks and monopoly industries that are supposed to be nationalised. Their role has been to ensure that the national liberation movement is caged in and paralysed from fulfilling its mission, i.e. to transfer to the ownership of the people as a whole, the basic wealth of our country.

43. That is why even when there is a clear anti-imperialist sentiment from within the branches of the ANC on any matter, the ANC has been found seriously wanting when it comes to implementation. The ANC bureaucracy so manages matters that at the end of the day, the revolutionary content of ANC conferences gets washed out in Big English nebulous resolutions. The reason for this is that within the movement there are monopoly capitalist forces whose primary and only task is to block progress.

the CEO of the Chamber of Mines, was quoted by the Business Day (06 August 2012) as saying: “If you look at the ANC’s record, how excellent is it in implementing its resolutions? It’s a lousy record and we are happy about that”.

Not only did the SACP just reject ZANU-PF’s accusations that COSATU is an agent of imperialism in 2004, the SACP rejected such characterisation of COSATU, by virtue of being affiliated to ICFTU, with the utmost contempt. Now, what was contemptible in 2004/05 is now acceptable in 2013. The major difference between 2004 and 2013 is that in 2004 the SACP leadership was not in government and in 2013 it is in government.

49. If South Africa is of “strategic importance in relation to imperialist ambitions in the African continent”, which of course it is, what has the SACP leadership done in order to weaken the imperialist grip over our country? Once again, the role of the SACP leadership in protecting the interests of imperialism in the mines, banks and monopoly industries cannot be ignored.

We should recall that workers confront capital directly in the private sector and indirectly in the public sector. Just as much as “corruption or co-option” is a strategy of capital against not only the progressive trade unions, we should also bear in mind that through deals within the public sector, through tenders, dishing positions to cadres etc., capital also “corrupts and co-opts” a communist party, a trade union movement and a national liberation movement.

As we see the situation, the leadership of the national liberation movement has long been captured by imperialism. By embedding itself in the state, instead of “building working class power” there by exposing the incapacity of the capitalist state to meet the aspirations of the working class, the SACP leadership has itself been swallowed into the capitalist strategy. Any criticism of the state is now “oppositional”, the SACP itself has long ceased to criticise state policy. Since 2009, the SACP has not produced single critique, not even one, of state policy. Instead, the GS of the SACP informed the working class, through Justice Malala’s show, that there is no neo-liberalism in the Zuma Administration.

8. Now, since some senior trade union leaders are in the Central Committee of the SACP, they have by extension been also swallowed into the capitalist strategy.

In short, though the ANC leadership pursued an imperialist agenda under the leadership of the Class of 1996, the SACP leadership, because it was not part of that trend, ensured that imperialism failed to capture the leading cadre of the trade union movement. Today, the situation is different. The SACP decided to amend its constitution to allow its senior leadership to enter the state.

9. That situation completely exposed COSATU to capitalist capture via the SACP in the state, as we show in the GS of the SACP speech to POPCRU where he appealed for “nuanced approach” to the “democratic government”, without any justification on the basis of Marxist-Leninist class analysis.

9. As NUMSA we knew right from the start, under the leadership of COSATU, that GEAR is a road to hell for the working class. We did not “misread” anything. Guided by a consistent Marxist-Leninist perspective, we understood the link between the neo-liberal petit-bourgeois leadership of the ANC and white monopoly capitalism through BEE. We also did not forget what the SACP taught us, that white monopoly capitalism in South Africa is in fact Anglo-American imperialism, that is to say, the imperialism of Great Britain and the USA.

10. How could the first Deputy GS of the SACP and his comrades have “thought we are dealing with national capital” that is committed to major investment. In short how the hell could they have trusted the enemy class force?

14. The Deputy GS of the SACP believed that he and his comrades were dealing with “national capital” OBJECTIVELY committed to development. He forgot that Colonialism of a Special Type is colonialism. By definition it is not interested in investing in the development of Africans.

15. To believe that white monopoly capitalism in South Africa ceased to be Anglo-American imperialism and became just “national capital” in the mid-1990s, requires a serious shift in ideological orientation. To be “persuaded” by the enemy class force to adopt neo-liberalism requires an abandonment of Marxist-Leninist analysis.

16. Interestingly, while the vanguard got persuaded, the trade union movement under the leadership of COSATU remained steadfast in its exposition of what neo-liberal policies were from the get go. Those of us who were never persuaded remain steadfast to this day that, as long as the basic wealth of our country is owned and controlled by the very same Anglo-American imperialism, no amount of tinkering will change the colonial conditions of our people.

17. As long as white monopoly capital in general, Anglo-American imperialism in particular, remains the dominant class force that owns the economy, neo-liberalism will remain in force, regardless of who is in government.

6. Fanning Divisions By Creating Suspicions Between Presidents and General Secretaries

1. While the calls for unity continue being made, the SG of the ANC in his speech to the POPCRU Political School, joined in with his version of how COSATU must operate. The most important thing in a trade union is worker-control. We fully agree!

2. It turns out, however, that his view of worker-control is bureaucratic and incorrect. He creates an analogy between himself as the SG of the ANC and the President of the ANC. He is quoted in the media as saying he knows his place as the SG and the President likewise. Similarly union presidents are “worker-leaders” because they get paid by their employers, unlike General Secretaries who are just “employees” of unions.

3. In his address, the SG of the ANC said: “As workers you gave power to the general secretary and killed worker control. When you did that, you tampered with the content and nature of the trade union movement”. So the crisis in COSATU is that General Secretaries were given power and Presidents must take it back.

4. All of a sudden, General Secretaries are the villains. The GS of the SACP for his part did not see the General Secretaries of unions as fit to deal with organisational matters: “Union President to immediately launch organisational renewal process and struggle in each of the unions, with a particular focus on renewing service to members and strengthening worker components of the union movement”. What about General Secretaries?

5. These speeches smack of opportunism. The main target is the General Secretary of COSATU, but the attack on the COSATU GS is framed as if the relationship between General Secretaries and Presidents is bad across the board, thereby fanning divisions within unions where such divisions do not exist.

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