No to the militarization of the mines

On Monday 3rd June 2013 the ANC govt announced that it was considering taking steps to deploy the army to all the mines in the country. Already the SANDF has been deployed into the DRC to protect the Anglo American mines and their plunder in the region. We oppose both.

Why now?

Imperialism has realized that the ANC-SACP-Cosatu alliance, that used to be able to control the masses to ensure ‘capitalist stability’, is not able to do so any more. The equilibrium has been shattered on the mines and is under threat more broadly; the NUM leadership is unable any more to guarantee ‘stability’ on the mines that imperialism requires for its continued exploitation of the masses. The police of imperialism, the ANC-SACP-Cosatu alliance leaders, are discredited in the eyes of the masses. Imperialism needs a new form of control. Even the Amcu leaders’ hold over the mine workers is not strong enough to act as the new ‘NUM’- the Amcu leaders never led the revolt on the mines last year, they merely rode on the crest of the revolt, parasiting on the militancy of the mineworkers and mine worker communities as they rose up against the system of capitalist exploitation on the mines.

What isolated the revolt initially was the Cosatu and SACP leadership, who painted the leadership of the mineworkers revolt as thugs. Despite this the revolt against the capitalist relations spread through the region, to the truck drivers, to the farm workers, to the metal workers, to the Namibian teachers, energy, airways and public sector workers, to the local bus drivers; a wave of revolt that has given courage to workers around the world.

In other parts of the world, imperialism is desperately trying to put out the flames of resistance against it. While propping up their dictators, imperialism also tries to infiltrate and neutralise the resistance against it. In SA imperialism has instructed its agency, the ANC govt, to send the army to protect all the mines, essentially the assets of Anglo American, JP Morgan Chase and the Bank of New York.  

Imperialism justifies the deployment of the army through the death of Amcu organisers and NUM shopstewards. But there is no generalised fighting between Amcu and Num members- in fact last year the base of the mineworkers revolt was the unity of the strikers in worker committees irrespective of union affiliation. It is likely, as imperialism has done countless times across the world, that imperialism in behind the attacks on both Amcu and Num, hoping to instigate inter-union fighting to divert attention away from their crackdown on and destruction of working class democratic gains.

What are the implications?

·         Crushing of independent organization

In addition to the current role of the ANC-SACP-Cosatu alliance to control the masses, imperialism feels it needs brute force. With Num and Amcu unable to control the mineworkers, imperialism wants to prevent independent self-organization such as expressed through the existence of workers’ committees on the mines which unite delegates from mineworkers and from mineworker communities- in essence the unity of the employed and unemployed workers in what was beginning to take the form of soviets, or workers’ councils, the beginning of an alternative form of government which would be in direct opposition to the current capitalist government and capitalist relations, not only in the country, but also the region.

·         Intimidation of the entire working class in the region

Thus the deploying of the army to the mines goes beyond just protecting the mines, but it is a political attack on the masses to intimidate us from setting up independent organizations of struggle which could oppose the system.

·         The rise of fascism

This is the start not just of bonapartism, but the first steps to fascism. [Bonapartism arises when  capital is on the attack and workers rise up to resist, but neither party is strong enough to defeat the other, then a figure at the head of the state, appearing to be above classes, acts as a disciplining force against both classes but ultimately in the interest of the capitalist class].

A few weeks ago, the Cosatu leaders criticised the DA for its call to send the army onto the farms to protect the farmers during the widespread spontaneous strike. Now, the Cosatu leaders are silent and thus it is clear that the ANC-SACP-Cosatu leaders will support the rise of fascistic measures, not only on the mines, but more broadly.

·         Democratic gains trampled

The presence of the army on the mines will mean that the hard won gains of freedom of gathering, freedom of association, freedom of movement, the right to strike, the right to organise, freedom of speech, are all being trampled on and destroyed.

An appeal to the soldiers

We remember how, recently, the regime sent troops to the Central African Republic (CAR) to defend assets of Anglo American as well as that of the BEE elite. The SA troops were used to prop up Bozize who had himself come to power through a coup. When the CAR masses began to rise up against Bozize, the SA troops were sacrificed when French and US imperialism launched a pre-emptive coup to prevent the masses from self-organizing and rising up and toppling the regime on their own. CAR is a mineral rich country, yet it ranks 221 out of 222 countries in terms of living standards. Imperialism now wants to use the SANDF rank and file to shoot down mineworkers, the backbone of the economy, so that the capitalist can plunder without any challenge.

We also need to remember that Anglo American and other mining capitalists are stealing hundreds of billions every year, besides what they steal through their declared profits. The very ones who are denying our children and youth a chance at decent work, decent housing, decent health care, the imperialists, want you to shoot down mine workers so that their theft can continue.

We remember how the army was deployed by the apartheid regime at Mercedes Benz in 1990 when the workers occupied the plant, protesting against the use of the company facilities to produce armoured vehicles for the regime; we remember how the Smuts regime (the forerunner of the DA) bombed the striking white mineworkers. Now the ANC regime wants to use apartheid measures against us.

We should not allow any soldier to be used against the masses.

A proposed way forward

1.       As a start, we call for general meetings on all mines and in all mining communities, uniting workers and unemployed, irrespective of affiliation, to begin discussing a response to the attacks on democratic gains by the state and its imperialist masters;

2.       We call for the setting up and extending of the workers committees in the mining communities- uniting workers of NUM, Amcu, Solidarity, Uasa, Numsa and all others;  

3.       We call for mineworkers, through marches, pickets, or sending of delegates to the mine bosses, to begin submitting demands to management that no soldier be deployed on any mine.

4.       At the same time, the demand for the return of the wealth stolen by Anglo American and other mining capitalists, should be made. This should go together with a demand to expropriate all the mines, without compensation to the capitalists, to be placed under workers control.

We call for discussion and preparation among all the masses and our grassroots organizations on measures how to counter the rise of fascism in SA and beyond. Now, more than ever, we need to unite the activists in a revolutionary working class party, in SA, in the region and in the world.

5.6.2013

Issued by Workers International Vanguard Party, 1st Floor, Community House, 41 Salt River rd, Salt River, 7925 ph 021 4476777, ph or sms 0822020617  email: workersinternational@gmail.com

Website: www.workersinternational.org.za