Response to Numsa CC on Marikana- the Numsa bureaucrats are trying save their own skins from the militant members of the union

Many Cosatu members are in shock- the ANC government has massacred the workers at Marikana, yet the Cosatu leaders have yet to organise a single act of solidarity (except showing their faces at the memorials); the Cosatu leaders have not even organised a slice of bread for the strikers, the injured, the families of the massacred. The NUM even supported the Lonmin ultimatum to dismiss the strikers; the NUM leaders have even encouraged the police to shoot the strikers!

In the middle of this massive betrayal by the Cosatu leaders, some activists are parading the NUMSA CC statement as a great victory for the left or the working class. This is a mistaken view. We outline below our analysis of the NUMSA CC statement of 2 Sept 2012:

 Firstly, the Numsa leaders accept the government Commission which does not even have the terms of reference to look at the collusion between the bosses, the state and the NUM leadership, nor will this commission even investigate the level of stealing by all the mining industry bosses through transfer pricing and other mechanisms. No comment about how the police, who committed the massacre, have not been charged while the strikers have been harassed- the Numsa leaders are silent about how biased the Commission already is. No Lonmin boss has been charged with murder, irrespective of the fact that they met the police directly before the massacre. Numsa leaders are silent on this.

To make itself appear ‘red’ or ‘revolutionary’ the NUMSA CC also support a supposed ‘independent Commission’ by Cosatu and ‘revolutionary formations’. Thus the NUM leadership, the very ones who worked hand in glove with the bosses, will be part of investigating the massacre. Is this not a recipe for a cover-up? Further, the SACP, which called for AMCU leaders to be arrested, will also be part of this ‘Commission’.  How can those who are complicit with the bosses in the massacre of the workers, investigate the massacre itself?  We remember that in 2000 the very leadership of Numsa was part of signing an agreement with the bosses at VWSA to dismiss strikers. The Cosatu and Numsa leaders still have to go and answer to the 1346 dismissed VWSA workers and their families for why they sided with the bosses. Hundreds of these workers have died, massacred by unemployment. 

Even though the Numsa draws the conclusion that  this is ‘the first post-apartheid South African state massacre of the organised working class’, they do not take this to its logical conclusion, namely that Numsa and Cosatu should break its alliance with the state and the ruling party, the ANC. No, they refer to the head of state as ‘Comrade Jacob Zuma’, yet this ‘comrade’s cabinet has said, within days of the massacre, that ‘SA remains a friendly investment destination and that the country will not allow renegade elements to subvert the rule of law’. Anglo American and others take hundreds of billions out of the country, every year through stealing, yet this is not breaking the rule of law! But when Cosatu members stand up to the bosses and demand more than the pittance that the leadership settle for, year after year, the working class are ‘renegades’ to be shot down like dogs. Indeed the next day after the Numsa CC, 4 NUM strikers on the gold mines were shot dead. The response of Numsa and Cosatu leaders to this act of the state against the ‘renegades’, against the working class, is the silence of the graves.

The Numsa CC sings the same song as the Cosatu leaders, namely as if these were just some rogue police and not a planned attack by the state. The Numsa CC only calls for the dismissal of the police who perpetrated the massacre; they do not even call for their arrest. They only call for the removal from political office of someone who was implicated in the massacre- why not call for their arrest? Are they calling for the removal of Zuma and replacement with Motlanthe? The same Motlanthe whose family also has shares on the mines? The Numsa leaders are trying to deceive their base and the rest of the working class. By calling only for action against the police (really just a tap on the knuckles for a massacre), the Numsa leaders are covering for the capitalist state. Here we have the true role of the capitalist state, as an instrument of violence against the working class. The Numsa leaders  want to pose progressive by quoting Marx on the nature of the bourgeois democracy we are in, but do not draw the conclusion about why Numsa and Cosatu are in alliance with the leaders of this bourgeois democracy and that they should break with it. No, for the Numsa leaders, just deal with these few rogue police and raps the rest on the knuckles, pleading with them not to be involved on labour disputes- this is what Numsa leaders are saying- this like asking a wolf not to be a wolf- you can put the police in 100 workshops, it does not change their role as an instrument of violence against the working class.

On the other hand, while the Numsa leaders call for the police to be tapped on the knuckles, they do not even call for the charges against the strikers to be dropped, they only call for them to be given bail. This clearly shows that, for all their words of the state being an instrument of violence, they have no objection to the bosses using this instrument to persecute the workers- the state can charge the survivors of the massacre and not charge the police- this is the position of the Numsa CC.  

Workers should ask themselves why the Numsa leaders are silent on the need for nationalisation to be under workers control. The Numsa leaders just call for nationalisation, under the very same bourgeois democracy that is massacring the workers. This is just posing to save the bosses from revolution- to put a few faces of the black elite in front, while the imperialist-capitalists still control.

The case of Lonmin shows that the BEE capitalists are tied hand and foot to big capital. Cyril Ramaphosa’s Shanduka received loans from big capital to acquire their stake in Lonmin, so in fact big capital controls the every move of Shanduka. This is the type of fake nationalisation which the Numsa leaders and the ANC Youth league stands for- they are silent on workers control, why? Because their real agenda is to become the new stakeholders, frontmen for big capital, so they can rescue the capitalists from a workers’ revolution.

The Numsa leaders talk about ‘unity’ but why have they not even come out in support of the workers’ demand for R12500. The LRS (Labour Research Service) report (A Mineworkers’ wage: The only argument against the R12500 is greed), provides a scientific basis for support of the mineworkers demand across all mines, yet the Numsa leaders are silent on this and have no programme of mass action to support the strikers. This can only be because the Numsa leaders do not support the demand; this shows what their true class role is as labour bureaucrats- namely to control the masses from within the workers movement, as a service to big capital. The Numsa leaders know that if they support such a basic demand for R12500, the rank and file Numsa members will say, well, if we can ask for such a reasonable wage for the mineworkers, why not us? Again, it shows the real role of the Numsa and Cosatu leaders, to control the Cosatu members and thus to control the advanced guard of the working class.

The Numsa leaders deliberately misquote and distort what Lenin writes in State and Revolution. They claim to quote Marx when saying that ‘bourgeois democracy is nothing but the best political shell behind which the bourgeoisie hides its dictatorship’.  Then the Numsa leaders propose that ‘we should be able to ensure that the ANC emerges with leadership that is rooted in the working class and that does not seek to change its liberation character’. In other words, the Numsa leaders propose to maintain the alliance with the ruling party and the capitalist state, merely to change the faces. This is a direct break with Lenin’s understanding of the state. This is what Lenin wrote in State and Revolution:

 ‘ A democratic republic is the best possible shell for capitalism, and, therefore, once capital has gained control this very best shell, it establishes its power so firmly , that no change, either of persons, of institutions, or of parties in the bourgeois-democratic republic, can shake it.’

Thus, according to Lenin, no change of people in a capitalist state, irrespective of good intentions, can alter that it is a dictatorship of the capitalist class. The history of Polokwane shows, as does the past 18 years, that you can change faces, but the capitalist state will still be an instrument of violence against the working class. All the Numsa leaders want, is to put another face at the leadership of the ANC and win 5 more years for big capital to continue to massacre the working class.

Numsa leaders, like the Cosatu leaders, call for the reform of the police; by this they mean, the continuation of the masses being disarmed and the police remaining armed- in other words for the dictatorship of the bosses to go on. What Lenin calls for is for the arming of the masses; that Socialism will only come through the mass action of the working class and fellow poor against the capitalist system. Every party, worth its salt in the workers’ movement, must have as part of its programme, the general arming of the masses- this is the most important addition which Marx made to the Communist Manifesto. Clearly the Cosatu and Numsa leaders are directly opposed to this.

The Numsa CC statement is a general cover for the ongoing massacre by the capitalists of the working class- the call for the nationalisation of Sasol is not for it to be under workers control; in fact they ask for the agency that is pro-Anglo American, NERSA, to police Sasol. Yet the same banks that Control Nersa and that year on year impose electricity increases that benefit anglo American, the Numsa leaders ask, to oversee Sasol. This is just playing with words, trying to hide that the Numsa leaders are themselves the shopstewards of the bosses and principally of Anglo American. The Numsa leaders claim that big companies are being hit by high electricity increases- this is not true- Anglo American and other monopolies pay less than 20c per unit- they have 40 year contracts that guarantee low prices to them.

The Numsa leaders are silent on the R3trillion infrastructure scam that will build up capitalist infrastructure, to bail out Anglo American, without even a plan for houses and electricity for all. The Numsa leaders do not even call for the Ferrochrome industry to be nationalised, why? Why protect the bosses?

Finally, the Numsa leaders continue to raise the discredited argument of the Colonialism of a Special Type and the National Democratic revolution- in essence they say that the black masses in South Africa was colonised by white monopoly capital and white people in general. What the past 18 years have shown is that capital is colour blind, the black capitalist are no better than the white capitalist- in fact we may say that they are worse because they pose as if they are with the masses. The monopoly capitalist we know as the enemy- well defined over many years of struggle. The black capitalist has been hidden and covered by the Cosatu and SACP leadership up to now.  The SACP, by breaking from its founding programme which called for unity of black and white workers, to adopt the Colonial thesis, divided the working class, by allowing the white working class to be freely co-opted by right wing reactionaries. This, still remaining split in the working class, is one of the reasons why imperialism capitalism can continue its rule.

On the other hand the SACP placed the winning of democratic demands in the hands of the black middle class, the thesis that the ANC leads the alliance for the attainment of the ‘national democratic’ demands. The past 18 years shows that the ANC govt has not broken down the racial ghettos, but have reinforced it through the RDP housing in racial group areas. In the case of the mines, one of the first democratic demands of the mineworkers was an end to the migrant labour system and thus the building of quality housing for mineworkers and their families. What has the ANC govt done? Instead of compelling the mining bosses to build decent family accommodation for mineworkers, the ANC leadership has taken shares in the mines. Besides Ramaphosa and his stake in Lonmin, the Zuma, Mandela and Motlanthe family have been given shares in the mines. R600bn is stolen from the country by the mining bosses through transfer pricing, every year. Here is the money for decent family accommodation for the mineworkers and in fact to abolish slums overnight across Southern Africa. Yet this simple democratic task has been sabotaged by the black capitalists that the SACP says is the leader of the NDR. The ANC turn a blind eye when Anglo American steals, while when mineworkers merely want a living wage, the ANC govt says they are renegades and a threat to the rule of law. The black elite are the ones that operate the labour brokers on the mines. The ANC elite is trampling the democratic demands of the working class under their feet, yet the SACP and the Numsa leaders say that the ANC govt is the leader of the fight for democracy.

Surely, the past 18 years and now the Marikana massacre now shows that the CST and the NDR is false, that the words of Lenin in State and Revolution are true, namely that upon attainment of democracy, that the capitalist class and the middle class lose their revolutionism. Surely the question of the permanent revolution as espoused by Marx, Lenin and Trotsky is shown to be valid, namely that the only class that can take the democratic demands to completion is the working class in power. Not a skipping over the democratic programme, but an intensification of the fight for democratic demands that cannot be led by the bourgeois ANC. A fight for a living wage for mineworkers and decent family accommodation next to the mines is the start of the fight for the working class to take power into its own hands.

The Freedom Charter is deliberately vague, talking about the wealth shall be controlled by the people as a whole- the state already owns all the mineral rights but control still lies in the hands of the monopolies. The ‘people’ includes the capitalists, who own everything, all the means of production, and the masses, who own nothing. The Freedom Charter is silent on which class should dominate and dictate; it does not call for nationalization under workers control, because one section of the ‘people’ will be disadvantaged, namely the capitalist class. The past 18 years have shown that where capitalists and the working class sit in the same party, the party is dominated by the capitalist programme. The capitalists have centuries of resources and wealth to back up their ideology, they have the church, the tribal leaders, the universities, the schools, the state, to back them up and dominate the working class.

The mines have always operated drawing workers from across Southern Africa. Any working class programme must take it into account that the entire working class in southern Africa are slaves of Anglo American and monopoly capital. There can be no nationalist solution for the fight against international capitalism. The working class in North Africa, the imperialist centres and China are facing the same imperialist capitalist enemy. We need to unite as an international working class, to advance the current world wide working class spring. The time has come to tear up the fraud of the Freedom Charter and the NDR. We need a workers programme, with democratic and Socialist demands, and an international working class party, that is independent of the capitalist state and big capital. It is time to refound the Fourth International.

Numsa once had a resolution for a working class party, but the leadership of the union has buried this in the deepest archives. It is time to dig it up, and open the debate anew.


Workers International Vanguard Party

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