9th August 2011 Women’s day in South Africa


When 20 000 women marched to Pretoria on 9th August 1956 to protest against pass laws for women, they were challenging the whole system of slave capitalism in South Africa. Today, the passes may have been abolished but the majority of women are still in chains of capitalist slavery.


Over the past 10 years life expectancy of the group classified by Statssa as African, has seen life expectancy decline from 50 years to 47 years. Life expectancy for African women is expected to further decline over the next 5 years. Life expectancy for those classified white was roughly constant at 71 years. The majority of the working class will not even live to a pensionable age, yet the ANC-SACP government wants to introduce a law that prevents workers from accessing their provident fund monies before the age of 60! This means that the capitalist banks will grab workers savings and hand over pennies to the few family members who may survive.


During 2008-9, over 1 million workers were retrenched. The top 10% of the country earn 90% of the income while the bottom 90% of the population has to survive on 10% of the income. Even further, the bottom 40% of the population, some 20 million people, have to survive on 1 % of the income while the top 1% earn 40% of the total income. In 2008-9, at the height of the capitalist recession, the capitalists received the highest profits ever in the history of the country, namely R670 bn. Every year since then the annual profits of the capitalists amount to more than R540 bn each year. These are just publicly declared profits- the real figure of the profits must be much higher. So it is not that the capitalists are suffering in the crisis in the same way as the working class- the capitalist crisis is one of profits falling from 4000% to 3990%, while for the worker it is a matter of life or death.


The Cosatu and SACP leaders cry crocodile tears at the high unemployment statistics – they are the best allies of big capital, allowing workers to be dismissed en masse without a fight, allowing the most brutal exploitation of workers while the capitalists make the highest profits ever.


But the 6th and 9th August are also infamous for the US imperialism nuclear bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Over 100 000 were killed in an instant. Many hundreds of thousands were maimed and many offspring still have deformities from their parents being irradiated. The US military used uranium bombs in Kosovo; they use them now in Libya. Yet the Cosatu and SACP leaders remain silent while on the 66th commemoration of the imperialist nuclear bombing of the masses in Japan, the US military is on joint exercises with the SA National Defence Force right here in South Africa. Anglo American and other monopolies controlled the wealth of South Africa before 1994 as indeed they do now. US imperialism does not trust the rank and file soldier in the SA army because they want to be unionised, they want to really defend the masses. The US military is not here for ‘humanitarian’ reasons, they are here to instil a command that says the profits of the monopolies come first, even if you have to shoot down the masses of the whole population as they have done in Iraq, as they are doing in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in the DRC, in Malawi, as indeed the US military is doing in Libya. Imperialism knows that the revolt against their rule is spreading south across Africa and they need an army that is loyal to big capital as its last resort.


The monopoly capitalists are the ones who casualise mostly women, who pay the lowest wages to women, who parasite off the labour brokers who employ mostly women. In other words, the US military and their allies in the ANC, SACP and Cosatu leaders, are here to ensure that the slave conditions of women continue. The Cosatu-SACP leaders are already preparing to compromise the fight against labour brokers by agreeing to a law that ‘limits’ (in reality allows) them instead of abolishing them. Today the hundreds of thousands of contract cleaning workers are on strike, having been isolated and abandoned by the ‘Living wage campaign’ of Cosatu where all the main industrial sectors have already been on sector strikes in the weeks before. The living wage campaign was originally planned that all sectors strike together but now the SACP and Cosatu leaders deliberately divide and isolate the fights of workers, the better to protect big capital.


Across North Africa and the Middle East, in the streets of London, Spain and Greece, women are taking up their place at the barricades against the cruel capitalist system.


It is time to break with the ANC-SACP and for an independent revolutionary working class party to be formed as part of an international fraction to refound the Fourth International. Kick out the pro-capitalist leaders of Cosatu- open the road to the woman worker to enter the struggle! The fight for women’s liberation forms part of every struggle against the capitalist system and can only be taken to completion if the working class takes power in its own hands with its own mass action methods, not through parliament. And even then the fight for worker power must be waged right into the imperialist centres, the very heartland of the monopoly capital that controls the daily lives of the masses in the colonies and semi-colonies.


9th August 2011