Apartheid with black lead­er­ship

Numsa’s per­spec­tive on the cri­sis of unem­ploy­ment and re­ces­sion

The Sunday Independent - - OPINION - IRVIN JIM Numsa Gen­eral Sec­re­tary

FOR THE past two decades, the Na­tional Union of Me­tal­work­ers of South Africa (Numsa) has con­sis­tently main­tained that the wors­en­ing cri­sis of unem­ploy­ment is a re­sult of se­ri­ous de-in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion.

This is tak­ing place be­cause of the fail­ure of the ANC lead­er­ship to re­struc­ture the South African econ­omy, min­er­als, en­ergy and fi­nance com­plex and its adop­tion of er­ro­neous neo-lib­eral poli­cies such as Growth, Em­ploy­ment and Re­dis­tri­bu­tion, and the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan.

How­ever, above all poli­cies and de­ci­sions is the dis­as­trous col­lec­tive lead­er­ship of the ANC and its in­abil­ity to cham­pion man­u­fac­tur­ing and in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion, and de­liver a state that in­ter­venes in the econ­omy.

This cri­sis is not unique to South Africa. Since 2008, the col­lapse of the dis­as­trous Wash­ing­ton con­sen­sus has plunged the world into a deep global cri­sis of cap­i­tal­ism.

It is di­rectly re­spon­si­ble for the triple cri­sis of poverty, unem­ploy­ment and in­equal­ity glob­ally, and it has plunged our coun­try into re­ces­sion, a re­ces­sion that is wors­en­ing.

The cri­sis in South Africa is re­vealed by Sta­tis­tics SA on Oc­to­ber 30. Stat­sSA paints a bleak pic­ture. Over 6 mil­lion peo­ple are un­em­ployed. The unem­ploy­ment rate in­creased to 27.5% in the sec­ond quar­ter this year.

The num­ber of un­em­ployed per­sons in­creased by 127 in the third quar­ter of this year af­ter it rose by 102 000 in the sec­ond quar­ter. The man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try lost 29 000 jobs, the min­ing sec­tor lost 27 000 jobs, trans­port 20 000 jobs and con­struc­tion 21 000 jobs. Only the fi­nance and trade in­dus­tries saw in­creases in em­ploy­ment in the for­mal sec­tor.

The dev­as­tat­ing im­pact of these job losses be­comes more re­veal­ing when we take into ac­count that every per­son who has a job sup­ports up to five or six ex­tended fam­i­lies.

This must be viewed as noth­ing less than a na­tional cri­sis. In fact, the coun­try is a tick­ing bomb. In ad­di­tion, the jobs we have lost over the past two decades will never be re­cov­ered.

We are in this mess be­cause this ANC lead­er­ship, for the past two decades, has re­fused to fully im­ple­ment the Free­dom Char­ter. They have re­fused to de­stroy and to over­throw the racist con­cen­tra­tion and cen­tral­i­sa­tion of wealth in the hands of white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal. In fact, un­der this lead­er­ship, apartheid has con­tin­ued with a black lead­er­ship at the helm of gov­ern­ment.

As a re­sult, the ANC is like a ship in mid-ocean with no com­pass.

Choos­ing neo-lib­eral macro-eco­nomic poli­cies over the lib­er­a­tion vi­sion has meant that blacks and Africans, un­der the gov­er­nance of the ANC, have con­tin­ued to be eco­nom­i­cally marginalised and dis­pos­sessed.

This will con­tinue be­cause the land ques­tion, which is key to mea­sure any lib­er­a­tion, has not and will not be ad­dressed. Blacks and Africans have not and will not be af­firmed into own­er­ship and con­trol of the econ­omy, which has to be done through na­tion­al­i­sa­tion of all com­mand­ing heights of the econ­omy, and put­ting all our min­er­als un­der worker con­trol.

Un­til then, we can­not ben­e­fi­ci­ate and di­ver­sify our nat­u­ral re­sources and min­er­als to build new sec­tors and cham­pion a job-led in­dus­trial strat­egy.

Not only are we in the mid­dle of a deep­en­ing eco­nomic cri­sis, but in the past two decades the ANC-led gov­ern­ment has not even been able to de­liver on the most ba­sic ser­vices, from hous­ing to elec­tric­ity, trans­port and other ba­sic util­i­ties.

This could eas­ily be achieved. There are many ex­am­ples across the world where coun­tries have man­aged to use their re­sources to ben­e­fit their pop­u­la­tion in gen­eral rather than en­rich­ing a few.

In Nor­way, for ex­am­ple, with only its oil re­serves, they have man­aged to in­sti­tute a full so­cial demo­cratic sys­tem. They don’t just pro­vide free ed­u­ca­tion, health­care, re­tire­ment, ba­sic util­i­ties, child­care and hous­ing, but all of this is de­liv­ered to the high­est qual­ity and stan­dard.

Yet in South Africa, we have min­er­als worth over R3 tril­lion, and our peo­ple are suf­fer­ing.

This is the rea­son Numsa, us­ing its Marx­ist-Lenin­ist tools of anal­y­sis, did not sup­port the so-called New Dawn of Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa. Long be­fore he and the new cabi­net took power, Numsa was ex­pelled by the al­liance led by the ANC for stat­ing the hard truth that the ANC has lost the lib­er­a­tion vi­sion. De­spite the rhetoric of the Thuma Mina brigade, our con­di­tion of cri­sis con­tin­ues and the con­di­tion of the work­ing class will worsen sharply un­der Ramaphosa.

Numsa is clear that the suc­cess of our rev­o­lu­tion­ary forces and suc­cess of the rev­o­lu­tion­ary agenda can only be de­ter­mined by our coun­try’s col­lec­tive ef­fort to re­ject and de­feat pri­vati­sa­tion of all our state-owned en­ter­prises.

Numsa was there when they tried to give work­ers a 0% in­crease, and they call it an in­crease. We have wit­nessed how, from 2016, they con­nected the first phase of in­de­pen­dent power pro­duc­ers (IPPs) that cost Eskom in that fi­nan­cial year a loss of R9­bil­lion.

We were there, in 2018, when Jeff Radebe con­fused ev­ery­body, in­clud­ing the na­tional en­ergy reg­u­la­tor Nersa to a point where Nersa, against the law, failed to con­vene pub­lic hear­ings when 27 IPPs had to be con­nected.

As a re­sult, through Numsa’s prin­ci­ples and pro­gres­sive at­ti­tude, we con­tinue to main­tain that we are not against move­ment from fos­sil fuel to re­new­ables, but that we are for a so­cially owned re­new­able sec­tor.

We sup­port an en­ergy mix, but it must be at a cost our coun­try can af­ford, and the fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ple is a just tran­si­tion.

If Ramaphosa can­not de­liver a liv­ing wage for the su­per-ex­ploited mi­grant work­ers, the in­dus­trial pro­le­tariat, work­ers in the pub­lic ser­vice, vul­ner­a­ble work­ers, or­gan­ised and unor­gan­ised, we will be stupid and naive to think that he can de­liver free­dom to the in­dus­trial pro­le­tariat and all work­ers in our coun­try.

If the rev­o­lu­tion­ary agenda to cre­ate jobs is not im­ple­mented im­me­di­ately, Ramaphosa will be per­ma­nently re­mem­bered as the Mar­garet Thatcher of South Africa: abu­sive, ex­ploita­tive, whose lead­er­ship was an at­tack on the hard-won gains of the work­ing class.

What our coun­try needs is po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship with a po­lit­i­cal back­bone which is ready to face re­al­ity, take de­ci­sions and act on them.

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