ANC's Jan 8th statement: Much ado about nothing! - NUMSA

Union says ruling party has no clear strategy on how to radically transform the economy


NUMSA STATEMENT on the ANC’s January 8th Statement and Celebrations

Expect nothing new from the ANC’s January 8th statement. The ANC has run out of ideas, and morals. It has no clear strategy on how to radically transform the economy. There will be no concrete socialist plans to solve the problems of deepening inequality, poverty and joblessness, and the overburdening of workers through slave wages.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa believes the ANC’s annual January 8th statement has lost all meaning and relevance. The current crisis facing the ANC and its leadership is that the one hundred and five year old organisation is unable to realize the goals of the National Democratic Revolution, (NDR).

It is ironic that the party has chosen to hold its January 8th statement in Orlando Stadium, in a province where they only control one metro – and the rest are governed by the opposition. Five months after the local government elections, and the ANC is still experiencing the aftershocks of the results.

The fact that the people of Soweto, where Nelson Mandela once lived, chose not to defend president Jacob Zuma and his ANC at the polls during last year’s crucial election, demonstrates the growing discontent that ordinary South African’s have against the ruling party.

2017 – A year of protest and violent confrontation

Apartheid was a racist dehumanizing political system designed to keep the white minority in control over the Black and African majority. It was an immoral economic and political system designed to support and promote white supremacy and ensure that white people would always be bosses, and Black people would remain sources of cheap black labour.

Under the ANC - led government that dynamic has remained unchanged. Control of the economy remains in the hands of mostly white capitalists and multi-national corporations whose main objective is to preserve the dominance and privilege of an elite white minority.

Twenty two years into democracy, in all essential respects, we declare, the colonial status of the black majority has remained in place. White males still dominate ownership on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE); white people earn more than their black counterparts in the workplace and the overall standard of living for white families continues to be much higher compared to black families. The white population enjoys a far superior cultural life.

The prospects for 2017 being a peaceful year of engagement between South Africa’s social classes and racial groups are incredibly slim. Violence has gained currency as the only language that forces the powers that be to engage with the powerless.

The visible increase in violent public protests is more than just an expression of frustration with the slow pace of transformative development. The protests are a slow burning revolutionary rebellion against an oppressive economic system, one which has ensured that the minority of white people benefit at the expense of the poor black majority.

The ANC is no longer the vanguard of the NDR and has betrayed the working class

The ANC’s claims that it is the vanguard of the revolution are empty and baseless. Having been given the overwhelming mandate from the people to govern, it has refused to exercise its power in parliament to make meaningful changes in the lives of our people. One of its greatest failures is the refusal to change the constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation. The ANC has missed an opportunity to undo a grave miscarriage of justice which resulted in African’s being dispossessed of their land.

It also is unable to address the issue of the ownership and control of the economy through nationalising minerals and the commanding heights of the economy. This malfeasance is at the core of inequality in the country. The gap between the rich and poor has become the highest in the world. In 1994, when Apartheid ended, the richest 1% took 12% of the country’s income, but 15 years later this had risen to 20%.

Whilst there has been an increase in the so-called Black middle class, the face of poverty still remains overwhelmingly Black, African, and more oppressively African female and African youth just as it was under Apartheid. Access to housing, education and health all are racially determined, with black Africans condemned to the worst services.

The ANC’s economic policies are responsible for rocketing unemployment, deepening poverty affecting especially millions of the black and African working class, and the highest level of inequality in the world.

Under the leadership of the ANC we have witnessed the massacring of mine workers in Marikana in the North West. Their legitimate demand for improved living conditions and a dignified living wage of R12 500 per month cost them their lives. The deputy president of the party Cyril Ramaphosa, a former mine worker himself, and former trade unionist is implicated in this heinous act.

In a further betrayal of workers, Ramaphosa is now proposing a limit on the right to strike. It’s truly disgraceful to see how far Ramaphosa has moved from his roots in the workers movement, the same movement that placed him in strategic leadership positions. He and others in the ANC have sold out their revolutionary principles for a few herd of overpriced buffalo.

Fees Must Fall – The ANC’s failure laid bare

The ANC’s abandonment of the goals of the NDR is further reflected in the failure to decisively deal with the crisis in education in general and tertiary education in particular. Since 1994, South African campuses have been permanently engaged in numerous forms of protest against the government and its partners, namely, the university leadership.

For more than 20 years students have been fighting for, amongst other concerns: equitable and affordable tertiary education, better living conditions on campuses, no financial exclusions and for genuine transformation of the sector. These student protests have recently coalesced into a coherent vision: the Fallist movement.

The student protests are expected to commence in earnest in a few weeks’ time and the ANC government seems woefully unable to resolve the dilemma. There is nothing to suggest that there will be less confrontation and violence. We in Numsa have pledged in our 10th Congress to be on the front lines of this struggle, from now onwards!

South Africa has a documented history where education was used as a weapon to keep the African majority enslaved. Bantu education was designed to guarantee a pool of cheap black labour for white capital. Now under this government, the high cost of tertiary education and its colonial content are being used as a weapon against the African majority.

The children of the working class are risking their education and their lives to free their parents from the burden of poverty. They know the kinds of sacrifices that their mothers and fathers have made for their education. They recognize that the capitalist system which is to blame for the commercialization of education is responsible for their suffering. Even though universities are public institutions, funded through taxes, they are inaccessible to the majority of people because of the prohibitive costs.

Instead of free decolonised and quality education, the ANC is offering the poor more debt through interest bearing loans. Dare we remind everyone that a former banker and member of the elite Sizwe Nxasana is the new head of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). The indebtedness of graduates has been shown to reinforce the cycle of poverty that so many of our people are trying desperately to escape.

The ANC has responded to #FeesMustFall in a way which is reminiscent of the Apartheid government. The government and its partners, the vice chancellors’ primary objective has been the over-securitization of tertiary institutions. They have deployed tanks and heavily armed police officers to confront unarmed student protestors. At least one student has been killed, whilst dozens of student leaders have been assaulted and detained for long periods.

Meanwhile the minister of tertiary education, SACP leader and yellow communist Dr. Blade Nzimande, whose claims of being a socialist are dubious at best, has condemned the students. Cynically, the government has appointed a commission to investigate the feasibility of free education. However, a truly revolutionary organisation would focus more on on how to implement free education.

While the ANC vacillates on the issue of free education, its colonial master, the United States is doing the exact opposite. The state of New York has recently unveiled a plan for free college tuition for poor and middle income students.

The role of the ANC: policing black and African labour and poverty, while being a buffer for white monopoly capital!

The ANC government’s primary role is running the country’s budget - which itself is controlled by its imperial masters, and cannot be more than a certain percentage of the country’s GDP.

Self-imposed structural adjustment programmes in the form of the Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) and the National Development Plan (NDP), which itself was introduced both to conceal the continuing failures of GEAR and to maintain the status quo, are directly responsible for sustaining the historic crisis of the black and African population of mass poverty, unemployment and inequality in post 1994.

In a few weeks, the ANC will send a large delegation of its elites, at huge public cost, to the wealthy resort of Davos for its annual tete-a-tete with imperialists, at the World Economic Forum (WEF). With a begging bowl in hand, this sorry lot, comprising of South Africa’s privileged business and political leaders, is going to the Swiss Alps to receive instructions on how to conduct the economy in 2017 for the benefit of their hosts: the world’s captains of white monopoly capital.

At 105 years, the ANC is now a shadow of its former self. It has become the lap dog of white monopoly capital. It fears the wrath of white business and ratings agencies more than the people who voted it into power. The ANC lacks the boldness and the vision to fulfil the aspirations of the black majority. Despite the rhetoric and sloganeering, the ANC’s policies in practice are anti-poor, anti-black, anti-African and hostile to the working class.

Fast unravelling: the farcical Alliance of the ANC and its bumbling partners

Such is the level of dissatisfaction within the party that members of its top structures have broken rank to publicly call for the resignation of President Jacob Zuma while its alliance partners, COSATU and the SACP have also been highly critical.

The ANC has diagnosed part of the problem, but it is paralysed.

NUMSA was the first to identify Zuma and the ANC as an obstacle to progress. Our principled stance on the issue led to our expulsion from COSATU.

As a result we are now witnessing the unravelling of the federation, because the leadership chose to put its selfish political ambitions, ahead of the needs of the workers. It has demonstrated that its actions are not motivated by revolutionary values, but by self-interest and political expediency.

COSATU has once again demonstrated its moral and ideological bankruptcy by endorsing Ramaphosa as a candidate for president of the country. This is a shameful betrayal of workers, and in particular to the families of the victims of the Marikana massacre.

January 8: Much ado about nothing

The ANC’s January 8th address will be nothing more than a rehash of previous January 8 Statements and State Of the Nation Addresses, and recycled election promises. The ANC will remind us of its once proud liberation history, and will use just the right amount of sloganeering to stir up false revolutionary fervour. And in true post 1994 ANC tradition, the party will denounce tendencies which currently plague it, including, corruption, factionalism, wastage of state resources, and slate politics, as challenges slowing down the pace of development. But nothing will change and there will be no new ideas dealing with the fundamental impasse facing us as a society.

What we will be witnessing on Sunday are the death throes of a once great liberation movement. The ANC’s abandonment of the Freedom Charter has destroyed the soul of the organisation. The compromises it made in the early 90’s which allowed the Apartheid social and economic structures to remain intact, have come back to haunt the party and the country.

Revolutionary, political activist and former Robben Island prisoner Neville Alexander warned that inequality had the potential to cause social instability:

"It is common cause in South Africa that unless a radical redistribution of material resources is realised within the lifetime of the present generation, all the glib rhetoric of social transformation, national democratic revolution and African Renaissance will come to mock their authors and exponents in the years ahead"

We have arrived at that point.

Even the passing of Fidel Castro cannot inspire the ANC to cut its economical umbilical cord to the West. The organisation is simply unable to “Slash at her fingers till she lets go”, as Jean Paul Sartre put it succinctly.

NUMSA’s Solution: A workers party

Our immediate political task as NUMSA is to get the NDR back on track by asserting the revolutionary and socialist working class leadership of this revolution. As NUMSA we are re-asserting the Freedom Charter as the basic programme of the revolution and as a platform to unite all the class forces that suffer under the yoke of colonial dispossession and imperialist domination.

NUMSA resolved at its latest congress that the Freedom Charter was more than just a document describing the aspirations of an oppressed majority. It is the blue print for attaining social justice against an oppressive dehumanizing system. The Freedom Charter outlines a framework for attaining economic freedom. The demand for the nationalization of all the banks and for mineral wealth to be transferred to  the people is a legitimate solution. It is the only way to restore dignity to Africans and the only viable way to develop the economy and the country.

Numsa is unapologetic about fighting for a socialist South Africa. The formation of a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist Workers Party is the key mobilising and leading the working class and to finally escaping from the chains of poverty, unemplyment, hunger, inequalities and corruption and exploitation.

We declare 2017 the year for building fighting working class orgainsisations, for the struggle for a socialist South Africa.

Issued by NUMSA, 4 January 2016