Over 500 Tshwane workers, mineworkers’ delegates, trade union and community activists packed Lucas Van Den Bergh Community Hall in Pretoria for the launch of the Workers & Socialist Party today. The hall could not accommodate the turnout and attendees over-spilled onto the neighbouring field.
The launch surpassed all expectations. It is without a doubt that WASP is striking a chord with working class people. Today’s launch will have worried many in the establishment – the ANC and their partners in government, the Cosatu leadership and big business. A new power is rising. The working class are getting organised and they are preparing a mighty challenge to the status quo. The ideas of socialism are being re-embraced.
The meeting was chaired by Weizmann Hamilton, the general secretary of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM). Headline speakers included Mametlwe Sebei (WASP spokesman & DSM executive member), Elias Juba (chairman of the national mineworkers committee), Ephraim Mphahlela (president of the National Transport Movement NATAWU), Elmond Magedi (Socialist Youth Movement), Liv Shange (DSM) and Joe Higgins (Socialist Party MP in Ireland).
Speakers from supporting organisations included workers’ delegates from Klerksdorp Uranium, Kumba Iron Ore in Northern Cape, Bokoni Platinum, Gold Fields KDC, Harmony Gold, Mpumalanga coal mines, Anglo Gold Ashanti amongst others.
WASP outlined the following manifesto points and principles:
WASP’s five point manifesto
Kick out the fat-cats. Nationalise the mines, the farms, the banks and big business. Nationalised industry to be under the democratic control of workers and working class communities. Democratic planning of production for social need, not profit.
End unemployment. Create socially-useful jobs for all those seeking work. Fight for a living wage of R12,500 per month.
Stop cut-offs and evictions – for massive investment in housing, electricity, water, sanitation, roads, public transport and social services.
For publicly funded, free education from nursery to university.
For publicly funded free health care accessible to all.
We reject outright the corruption of pro-capitalist politicians and political parties.
All WASP candidates for publicly elected positions – whether councillors, MPLs or MPs – are elected subject to the right of immediate recall.
For workers’ representatives on workers’ wages. All officials elected on the basis of the WASP manifesto will only take the wage of an average skilled worker. The remainder will be donated back to WASP.
WASP will now prepare for its next phase of development. WASP will shortly announce a date for convening of a conference to establish democratic structures, a leadership and flesh out its manifesto. There are many other fronts WASP plans to open up: a campaign to re-call corrupt councillors, taking up the issue of labour broking, the collection of one million signatures in support of WASP, and preparing the ground for a general strike should the mine bosses and government dare to enact mass retrenchments in the mining industry.