The ANC and SACP are behind attempts to split Cosatu

For weeks ANC leaders have been attempting to ‘mediate’ between Numsa and the ANC/SACP faction within Cosatu. What they were really trying to do is to get Numsa to give up on its Congress resolution to break with the ANC and SACP and to form a workers’ party.

The ANC-SACP leaders have no concern for workers’ unity nor for respecting workers’ democratic processes; they only have self-interest at heart. Put simply, The ANC-SACP leaders need to continue to use Cosatu as a conveyor belt so that their own privileges from parliament and business can continue. Now that the ANC and SACP leaders realize they cannot persuade the Numsa members to go back on their decision, they are fighting for their lives. Without Cosatu, the ANC is dead; they will be nothing else but a black DA or a new COPE. Thus the ANC and SACP leaders are fighting tooth and nail to prevent a special Congress of Cosatu. Imagine if the Congress sits and not only removes the current leadership but also breaks the alliance with the ANC and SACP, and sets up a new workers’ party. If the EFF could gain a million votes within a few months from the fringes of the ANC and without deep roots in the workers movement, what would a Cosatu-formed workers party get? It could almost overnight become the ruling party and the path would be open for expropriation of the commanding heights and Socialism would be placed on the agenda. [The support for a workers’ party is confirmed through the study commissioned by Cosatu in 2012, which started before the Marikana massacre, which showed that more than 60% of Cosatu would support a workers’ party against the ANC. With each passing attack by the ANC government, the support for a new workers’ party is likely to grow].

Imperialism supports the split in Cosatu and the expulsion of Numsa

Due to the danger that a Cosatu workers’ party would pose, big capital, imperialism, supports the split of Cosatu. Thus, instead of being faced with a Cosatu-formed workers’ party, imperialism would be faced only with a Numsa-led workers’ party. This would be a significantly smaller threat and would mean that the advanced layers of the working class would be split. This further split of the advanced layers of the working class is necessary for the imperialists to carry out their plans of extensive attacks on the masses. It is no accident that the recent Medium term Budget statement of the ANC govt carries within it plans for massive attacks against the working class. It is also no accident that the ANC plans to spend an extra R3 bn to further militarise the police.  Imperialism knows that by next year Cosatu will be further split and weakened and thus unable to launch a sustained campaign of defence.

Some of the planned attacks by the ANC govt on behalf of big capital are as follows:

·         Large scale privatization of state-owned entities, including water and electricity;

·         Further youth slavery in labour brokers [it has emerged that most of the 219 000 youth subsidies paid out by the state so far, have gone to labour brokers]

·         Handing over of workers’ providend funds to the banks and denial of access of workers to their own funds until the age of 65;

·         Cutting of thousands of vacant posts in the public sector

·         The cutting of public sector salaries in real terms

·         Ensuring that the pace of housing construction is slow enough to maintain the high house prices, benefiting the construction monopolies and banks.

Drawing some of the lessons of a multiclass alliance- Cosatu-ANC-SACP

The alliance of the workers movement, the Communist parties and nationalist-multiclass parties has its origin in the days of stalin when Communists were directed to form ‘people’s fronts, bury working class interests and to put the interest of the local lumpen bourgeoisie ahead of it. This was part of a trade-off with imperialism to allow the Stalinised Soviet Union to exist, while Communist parties spearheaded the betrayal of revolutions to prevent the working class from taking power on a global scale. This is the origin of the ANC-SACP-Cosatu alliance that has successfully allowed imperialist rule to continue for the past 20 years in SA.  The local lumpen bourgeoisie (Ruperts, Oppenheimers, Motsepes, Ramaphosas, etc) has identical interests with imperialism.

The way forward

The 7th Nov 2014 Cosatu Central Executive Committee (CEC) has as its first point, a charge that Numsa should explain why it should not be expelled. This shows that the ANC is directly behind the expulsion of Numsa and thus the split of Cosatu. Numsa has no case to answer. On the contrary, the leadership of Nehawu, Popcru, Sadtu and other affiliates, should be explaining why they should still be in the leadership of their own unions. These ANC and SACP union leaders should explain to the masses why they still support a regime which has carried out the Marikana massacre and which is planning more massacres; They should explain why Cosatu still maintain links with the ANC regime which has openly declared its dedication to maintain links with Israel and which supports bantustans for Palestinians and which has just indicated that they will not prosecute SA citizens which serve in the genocidal Israeli army. Why do they maintain links with the ANC regime that is dumping our youth into labour broker slavery. Why do they maintain links with a regime that is sabotaging service delivery so that private companies can benefit. Why are they expelling Numsa when in the previous public sector strike, it was only the threat of a secondary strike by the industrial sectors, led by Numsa, that forced the ANC regime to agree to workers’ demands? 

Even if you support the ANC, what right has the Nehawu, NUM, Popcru and Sadtu leaders to give an ultimatum to Numsa to give up on its democratic Congress decision or face expulsion? Surely what should be done is the calling of a Special Congress of Cosatu so that workers can debate and reach their own conclusion.

We call on workers from all affiliates of Cosatu, and all the masses suffering from poor service delivery and unemployment, to go to the Cosatu head office on the 7th Nov to demand an end to the victimization of Numsa and to support the calling of a special Congress.

If the ANC still goes ahead and splits Cosatu, we propose the following measures:

1.        We call for the setting up of workers’ committees in every workplace, which would unite workers irrespective of union and political affiliation; it is not a question of a numbers game of recruiting more members to Numsa or to the rump of Cosatu, but of building and maintaining the maximum unity in action. We should avoid, at all costs, to fall into the trap that imperialism is setting for us, namely for worker to attack worker, or for this to become a terrain for inter-union rivalry and recruitment. Thus we would oppose the formation of a rival federation as this would only entrench divisions among the working class.

2.        The Numsa United Front should invite workers in Cosatu to join up with its structures, not by joining Numsa but as members of their Cosatu unions, as they have done with other unions up to now. Thus, even if expelled, Numsa should still offer solidarity to the public sector, or any other affiliate of Cosatu when they go on strike next year or in the future;  thus there would still be de facto unity of Cosatu members as an organised force, despite the divisive efforts of the ANC and SACP leaders. We call for a new way of policy formulation through discussions determined from the shopfloor upwards.

3.       But the central call should be for all workers to join up in discussions with Numsa to help shape and form a revolutionary working class party as part of a new International to be set up in future. There is a long history of advanced workers in unions supporting a workers’ party. This party should be set up based on the lessons of the past experience of the pro-capitalist multi-class alliance of the ANC-SACP-Cosatu. The working class fighters need to be united in a revolutionary working class party to face off the coming massive attacks by big capital. Unions are limited in their scope and often, when a period of radicalism passes, tend to become the best defenders of capitalism.   The history of the MDC in Zimbabwe, the PT in Brasil, the Bolivarian parties in South America, and their role in sustaining capitalism, needs to be learnt from. Imperialism will try everything to weaken a new workers’ party, including from within, but this should not deter us from actively working for a truly revolutionary working class party, the only chance we have to ensure a decisive advance to Socialism.


Workers International Vanguard Party, WIVP, ph or sms 0822020617, email website 1st Floor, Community House, 41 Salt River rd, Salt River, 7925. [We are also on facebook].