David Sipunzi elected General Secretary - NUM

National congress also says union is facing liberal offensive aimed at liquidating it and its legacy

National Union of Mineworkers 3rd -6th June 2015 15th National Congress Declaration

6 June 2015

1. Preamble!!!

“The road is long and full of difficulties. At times we wonder from the path and must turn back; at other times we go too fast and separate ourselves from the masses; on occasion we go too slow and feel the hot breath of those treading in our heels. In our zeal as revolutionists we try to move ahead fast as possible, clearing the way, but knowing we must draw our sustenance from the masses, and that it can advance more rapidly only if we inspire it by our example.” (Che Ernesto Guevara)

We, the 850 disciplined and militant members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), fraternal and international guests gathered at Birchwood Hotel – Johannesburg, as delegates to the 15th National Congress proclaim that for the next three year our union shall underpin its programmes of action around the theme “Back to Basics – Members First.”

NUM 15th National Congress has spoken and made a clarion call thus; Back to Basics- Members First – this is not a step backwards.

It is a step forward. We must go back to basics; but when we come back we must be the most advance and resolute in championing the interests of the workers.

Furthermore, congress declares thus Back-Basics: Members First we mean reaffirming worker-democracy, worker-ownership over the union.

This means the answerability of full-time officials to the base, Back-Basics means daily dedication to servicing member’s needs.

It means active and capable shop-stewards who do not rely on head-office to solve all problems.

It further means re-affirming the traditions of collective leadership-not “big man politics”, not a politics of “members”, not “clientelism”, not “cults of personality”

Our 15th National Congress is very clear the intention of Members First is one of utmost importance because existence derives from the struggle of fighting exploitation of the workers by the greedy capitalist employers.

This is a revolutionary duty to ensure that the very cornerstone of what we have done in the past, what we are presently doing, and what will catapult us into the future, is that of the mighty members of the NUM.

Our 15th National Congress was honoured by the attendance of up to twenty five international guests from the Revolutionary Cuba, IndustriAll, BWI, WFTU, ZEWU, Ghana Mineworkers Union, BMU, BEWU and some having presented their messages of solidarity.

This was indeed an important underlining of our historic tradition of internationalism as the NUM.

This congress gathers at the time when our revolution is under severe pressure – facing mounting neo-liberal offensive challenging the very foundation of the majority rule principle.

As part of this anti-majoritarian liberal offensive when parliament is supposed to take decisions opposition parties threaten the ruling party to take to courts.

Our 15th National Congress note with grave concern the state of our State Owned Entities (SOEs) that are facing serious challenges, ranging from governance problems at Eskom, SAA, Petro-SA, SABC and Nuclear Energy Cooperation of South Africa.

This 15th National congress has leant with shock government intentions to sell interests in a number of State Owned Entities (SOEs) to raise funds for cash-strapped Eskom. And also attempts to privatise Eskom and other SOEs.

This neo-liberal agenda if not challenged has the potential to retard our agenda of building a developmental state.

We also convene this 15th National Congress in the midst of economic growth disappointments which has the roots from the 2008 world economic crisis. The South African economy has not fully-recovered from the global economic crisis.

This crisis has manifested into the bloodbath retrenchments throughout the economy, particularly in the manufacturing sector.

South Africans are now paying more tax as announced by the Minister of Finance during his budget speech.

2. Liberal Offensive on the NUM

As we convene at the NUM 15th national congress, the union is facing mounting liberal offensive with the intention of liquidating our union and its legacy as the source of inspiration for hundreds of thousands of mineworkers.

This offensive, as we have previously defined it, seeks to weaken the NUM and thereby weaken Cosatu and the rest of the revolutionary Alliance.

The unfortunate part is that, supposedly fraternal unions have formed part of the neo-liberal sect, with some sections of the media and self-appointed political analysts that are leading the offensive against NUM.

Throughout this moment we have observed that an injury to NUM is an opportunistic gain to the leadership clique of this supposedly fraternal union.

Despite our efforts to raise awareness against the dangers of the vigilante unions – properly characterised by the vanguard Party of the working class – the South African Communist Party as yet another vigilante union, the offensive is mounting on our union.

It is, nonetheless, with a sense of elation to report to the country and members of this union in particular that NUM is stronger! And the future of the workers and mineworkers in particular is in safe hands!

3. We will Defend Cosatu to the Bitter End

Congress appreciates feedback on developments at Cosatu and in relation to leadership and organisational challenges that have characterised media reports on our Federation.

Delegates expressed gratitude on the efforts the African National Congress (ANC) has played so far in intervening when differences seem to consume the Federation. Congress delegates appreciate the dangers posed by a cult of personality and its manifestations including factionalism.

Mine, construction and energy workers are acute aware that the anti-majoritarian liberal offensive has caught up with our own labour movement too.

Despite any distraction, congress is calling upon the Cosatu leadership to remain resolute in enforcing discipline.

Furthermore, congress makes a call to say, our federation, Cosatu can no longer afford to be run through courts and we will defend Cosatu to the bitter end.

Congress warmly welcomes the acceptance of Limusa to the Cosatu fold as a new home of metalworkers of South Africa. Congress further call on all metal workers to join a Cosatu union, join Limusa.

Congress fully supports the decision taken by Cosatu to expel Numsa and Zwelinzima Vavi respectively. On the one hand, should Numsa reverse its 2013 December resolution that undermines the federations founding principles of One Industry, One Union the NUM will be the first union to call for Numsa’s re-instatement.

4. The SACP

Congress re-affirms the SACP as the only vanguard Party of the working class capable of prosecuting the struggle for socialism and ultimately for communism. Congress believes that the SACP’s Five Year Programme South African Road to Socialism as the best method in taking forward the SACP’s programmatic slogan socialism is the future, build it now.

The NUM calls on the SACP to thoroughly interrogate its SARS programme and pay particular attention to the state, the economy, and workplace.

5. Forward to the ANC’s Victory on the 2016 Election

Our 15th National Congress re-affirms the ANC led alliance as the best placed organisation to lead radical economic transformation currently under-way. Against this background, the NUM shall campaign across the country for the ANC’s landslide victory in the forthcoming local government elections in 2016.

The NUM will deploy its traditional Presidential Task Team to the Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Greater Johannesburg to strengthen the ANC support.

6. Open The Chris Hani Inquest Now!

The 15th National Congress re-iterates its grave disappointment on the release of Clive Derby Lewis who dastardly assassinated our Chris Hani on 10th April 1993. Clearly, whilst the consecutives are toasting the workers of South Africa and the Hani family will be in mourning.

Congress would like to join the YCLSA and the SACP in the call for the re-opening of Chris Hani inquest. Congress further mandates the NEC to meet with the Party and consider a march to the Union Building to call for the opening of the Hani inquest.

7. Parliament – the strategic site of power

NUM 15th National Congress took place at a time where the anti-majoritarian liberal offensive is gaining confidence at all fronts. It is this tendency advanced by the DA-led opposition parties with its vanguard, the proto fascist and corrupt tenderpreneurs, hyenas masquerading as revolutionaries, the EFF, that continues to use the judicial on issues they have lost in parliamentary debates. It is within this context that workers calls for the clear separation of powers between the judicial and the legislative arm of government. The congress calls on South Africans to isolate the racist DA and its para-military wing, the EFF, and expose these parties for what they are.

8. The Status Of The State Owned Entities

The state of the critical organs of the state such as the many components of the criminal justice cluster is a cause for concern to the mining, energy and construction workers.

8.1. Hands Off Eskom From The Remnants Of The 1996 Class Project

We are concerned with the hegemony of the remnants of the 1996 class project at the national treasury. In this instance, these remnants have the potential to undermine our agenda of building a developmental state. It is within this context that as part of our Save Eskom Campaign we call upon our government not to fall into the temptation of the neo-liberal agenda of seeking to private Eskom.

The fact that the energy utility is a liability is a man creation by the corrupt and greedy tenderpreneurs.

On the one hand, as long as Eskom continues to be led by tenderpreneurs the power utility will continue confront challenges and weaken the country’s economy. Within this context we extend our call to President Zuma to intervene on the stabilisation of the Hawks, NPA, Police, IPD, SARS and our SABC for the sake of our national democratic revolution.

9. Reclaim the Freedom Charter from Demagogues

Our 15th National Congress coincided with the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter-our guide to action. It is within this context that we call for the speedily implementation of the Freedom Charter in this more radical phase of the national democratic revolution. 

The second more radical phase must have a practical meaning to the workers in seeing to it that the radical economic transformation currently underway serve the workers and the poor not the white and the connected few black elite.

Congress condemns the hi-jacking of the Freedom Charter by the corrupt demagogues and business unionists for populist purposes.

10. Workers of Africa Unite and No to Xenophobia

Congress expressed solidarity with foreign national workers who were brutal killed by lumpens during the recent attacks in areas such as Johannesburg and Kwazulu Natal. The message from congress is clear to all workers and the poor-our enemy is one, capital not foreign nationals.

Congress admitted that the current dominance of unorganised workers of foreign origin in all the sectors of the economy exposes the weaknesses of the labour movement and thus we must recruit them because the NUM is a product of the unity of the workers beyond the South African boarders.

11. Collective Bargaining

Through our Siyaphambili Campaign the National Union of Mineworkers has a dynamic Wages and Collective Bargaining Policy and concomitant strategies which have carried us up to today. This policy and strategies have set good precedents by improving wages and conditions of work at firms such as Eskom, Royal Bafokeng Platinum Mines, Kumba Iron Ore, Gold Field’s South Deep Gold Mine and the Civil Construction sector.

Congress commits to build on these landmarks victories.

The NUM will ensure that our negotiators navigate the forthcoming wage bargaining rounds and the ones currently under-way with utmost care and diligence noting that our members are already having high expectations from the coming wage rounds.

Congress is acute aware that whilst our negotiators carry full mandates from the grass-root members, it refuses to ignore the fact that workers in the mining and quarrying and construction industries are agitating for a living wage.

The current wage policies are still steeped in the apartheid mentality, which was promoting class exploitation, gender domination and racial oppression.

These employers continue to pay workers according to the skills and education levels which continue to deny a black worker the right to a clear career-pathing. As we enter the arena of wage bargaining, we have this baggage in our minds.

Congress is resolute on the fact our battle for decent remuneration must operate under the broad historical and contemporary environment. The 15th National Congress clarion call to negotiating teams therefore, is to embark on consultations and mandating processes all the way round.

Congress declared not to create negotiating gaps and the NUM to remain a team player in negotiations. In this way we will be creating dynamic contact with workers in general and members in particular as part of going back to basics.

Congress thoroughly discussed the advances scored and struggles to be waged in our three sectors namely; the mining, construction and energy and reflected on both advances and the on-going struggles that need to be waged thus:

a) On energy- we re-affirm our current position on the debate about nuclear energy and we are prepared to take it to the street if need be.

b) On construction- despite the many improvements since the 2013 national wage negotiations, the sector continues to face structural challenges on transformation, health and safety of the workers. Many accidents and deaths are under reported in the industry and thus we call for an urgent construction Indaba to reflect on the state of construction and the beneficiation of the workers. Employers must start building houses for the construction workers.

c) On mining – in the 33 years of NUM’s existence a lot of improvements have been registered in the mining sector. Nonetheless, the sector is facing a new serious enemy – mass retrenchments of workers throughout the mining industry. The congress calls on the Chamber of Mines, the ANC-led government to intervene in consultation with the trade unions and find ways to avert the crisis.

Most important, the NUM has noted with disgust and irritation the lack of transformation in both the mining and construction sectors. We call on the relevant departments to wrap the knuckles of those executives and company boards for the failure to comply with relevant legislative frameworks, with the Department of Public Work blacklisting these rogue companies.

11.1. Our Line Of March Moving Forward

Our 15th National Congress is resolute on making a call thus:

- No to the development of a Nuclear Plant

- No to retrenchment

- No to the transfer pricing, offshore listing mergers and acquisition

- No to labour brokering

- No to E-Tolls

- No to the Minister of DMR stance on seeking declaratory order on ownership element of the Mining Charter

- No to mergers and acquisition by multi-nationals, as this creates monopolies like Glencore and Riot Tinto.

On the one hand, NUM members demand:

- The improvement of conditions of service

- Demand an unwavering enforcement of legislative and regulatory frameworks that benefit workers and communities at large

- Demand a living wage in order to close the apartheid wage gap and enforce equal pay for equal work principle across the industries

- Accelerate the implementation of Nedlac endorsed social accord

11.2. Forward to the Mining Charter Reviewal and Mining Phakisa

Our 15th National Congress mandate the NUM to approach the upcoming Mining Charter Reviewal and Mining Phakisa with the aim of ensuring that there is a minimum of 10% Ownership by employees and community trusts respectively. 

This should be followed by the alignment of all sector codes with the revised codes of good practice, which should also reflect the 10% minimum for employees. As the current challenge of 24% being given to 2 BEE entrepreneurs and 10 000 employees owning only 2% should be criminalised.

11.3. Unemployment, Inequality and Poverty

The National Union of Mineworkers vision for economic transformation is firmly rooted in the ideals expressed in the Freedom Charter, “the people shall share in South Africa’s wealth.” The Land Shall Be Shared Among Those Who Work It, hence congress calls on the government to fast track the land reform process. The land dispossession is at the heart of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

The congress noted with concern that at the first quarter of 2015, the unemployment rate increased to 26.4% -- a 12 year high since 2003.

Unemployment remains one of the three chief enemies of the democratic dispensation along with inequality and poverty.

The congress noted and appreciates the efforts demonstrated by the ANC-led government in fighting unemployment.

This congress is not convinced that the business and industry are as committed in fighting unemployment, poverty and inequality.

Our 15th National Congress is concerned that the grave impact of the 2008 global capitalist economic crises that it continues to be heavily felt by the workers and the poor. The retrenchments currently under-way in all the sectors of the economy seeks to deepen the triple crises of unemployment, poverty and inequality in our country despite our government’s interventions.

12. Forward to International Solidarity

The 15th National Congress received the report on the international front and further discussed the many developments in the international front and particularly in the Latin America.

It is within this context that congress joined the Cubans and the rest of the world in celebrating the release of the Cuban Five heroes; Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labanino, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez who spent years languishing in the US jail for years after they were framed by imperialist.

Congress further welcome the ANC led alliance initiative on inviting these Cuban Five heroes to the country of Nelson Mandela. Congress calls on all members of the NUM to participate to the events to be held across the country with these heroes.

Our 15th National Congress calls on the imperialist USA to unconditionally uplift the economic blockade in the revolutionary Cuba.

As part of our international solidarity work in defence of the Bolivian Republic of Venezuela, congress calls for:

- The immediate withdrawal of the executive order by the US led imperialist

- An end to provocative acts perpetrated by the United States of America against Venezuela

- The respect for the Sovereignty and territorial integrity of Venezuela, the democratically elected leadership and her people

- An end to acts of destabilisation as part of the US agenda of regime change in Venezuela

We are resolute as the NUM in our call that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has an inalienable right to self-determination and as progressive forces and mine, construction and energy workers shall fight to defend the Venezuelans right to sovereignty.

Furthermore, as part of our historic symbol of international solidarity work we pledge solidarity with the Palestine people and call for the boycotting of Pick N Pay, G4S, Mc Donald, Woolworths. We also call on the South African government to cut trade ties with the apartheid Israel.

As part of our campaign, the NUM is going to develop both the regalia and pamphlets written meant to raise awareness about the atrocities perpetrated by Israel against the people of Palestine: Isolate Apartheid Israel.

Our 15th National Congress pledges solidarity with the people of Swaziland under Mswati monarchy bent to harassing and suppressing the working people of Swaziland. We further call for the release of all political prisoners and the return of those in exile to their country of birth.

15th National Congress further pledge solidarity with the legitimate struggles of the people of the Western Sahara and condemns with the strongest terms the violation of Human Rights by the Moroccan Authorities in the Western Sahara.

In the next three years and beyond, the NUM shall support UGTSARIO (Saharawi Trade Union) in its struggle against the exploitation of Saharawi workers in the occupied Western Sahara.

The 15th National Congress joins both ITUC and BWI in welcoming the resignation of Sepp Blatter as Fifa President. The NUM will remember Sepp Blatter not only as a person who awarded the World Cup to Qatar but further shielded brutal kafala system from reform.

Congress calls on Fifa to use its extra ordinary conference not only to look at the replacement of Sepp Blatter but also to undo the damage Fifa has done by instructing Qatar to respect the international labour laws as strict condition to host the world cup.

Congress agrees with the General Secretary of the BWI comrade Ambet Yuson that the biggest crime with FIFA is not the corruption.

It is ignoring all the thousands of workers who get trapped in the modern-slavery or to death while building for the World Cup.

13. Election of the new Office Bearers

- President - Piet Thamsanqa Mathosa

- Deputy President - Joe Montisetsi

- General Secretary - David Kholekile Sipunzi

- Deputy General Secretary - William Mabapa

- Health & Safety Chairperson - Peter Bailey

- Health & Safety Secretary - Eric Gcilitshana

- Education Chairperson - Hellen Diatile

- Education Secretary - Eclif Zwelitsha Tantsi

Long Live NUM!!

Long Live Cosatu!!

Long Live SACP!!

Long Live ANC!!

Issued by NUM, June 6 2015