South Africa: NUMSA & WASP discuss international experiences of new workers’ parties

South Africa’s metalworkers union in discussion with WASP and CWI

NUMSA, South Africa’s metalworkers union, the largest union on the African continent with 340,000 members, will be convening a Conference for Socialism on the 16-17 April to discuss the options available for a working class political alternative to the openly corrupt big business ANC government.

NUMSA took the historic decision at its Special National Congress in December 2013 to withdraw financial and political support away from the ANC whose neo-liberal policies are devastating the lives of NUMSA members, the working class and the millions of the black impoverished and destitute in the townships and informal settlements across South Africa.

Alongside this decision delegates agreed to establish a United Front to link up the struggles of the trade unions and the communities and a Movement for Socialism to investigate the establishment of a new workers party.

NUMSA has created a task force to oversee this process. Last week Alec Thraves from the Socialist Party of England & Wales on a visit to South Africa was invited along with a WASP (Workers’ and Socialist Party) delegation to address this task force at NUMSA’s national office in Johannesburg. Alec opened the meeting by acknowledging the fighting militant traditions of NUMSA and praising their courageous decision in breaking from the ANC which no longer represents the interests of the working class. Similarly in Britain he added, in his own union Unite, Socialist Party trade union members were campaigning for a break with the Labour Party which also no longer represents working class people in the UK. Whereas NUMSA has withdrawn its members money from the pro-capitalist ANC, Unite had recently donated R28 million (1.5 million) to Labour’s general election fund despite the fact that the labour leadership is committed to continuing the Conservative-led government’s austerity policies if they get elected!

Alec explained how the Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition (TUSC) would be challenging Labour with an anti-cuts programme in around 120 parliamentary seats across the UK, preparing the ground for the future development of a new mass workers party.

He also highlighted the success of the CWI’s supporters in the US, with the election of Kshama Sawant and the impact of the $15 an hour campaign, and our MPs in Ireland who are performing as genuine workers representatives leading the water tax non-payment campaign.

After a constructive discussion, comrade Banda, political advisor to Irvin Jim, general secretary of NUMSA, thanked Alec for his contribution and invited the WASP delegation to continue their political exchanges with NUMSA over the coming months. WASP will be sending an official delegation to the Conference for Socialism to express our belief that the creation of a new mass workers party with a socialist programme if an urgent priority for the South African working class.

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March 2015