Numsa wary of ‘capitalist’ Malema

category southern africa | the left | non-anarchist press author Friday January 03, 2014 22:19author by Shanti Aboobaker - Sunday Independent

Metal workers' union rejects Malema

This important article from the mainstream press in Johannesburg, South Africa, shows that, contrary to the assumptions of most political analysts in South Africa the metal workers' union, which has recently split from the ANC, will not be supporting either Julius Malema and his corrupt and neo-fascist politics or either of the two small Trotskyite parties.

Numsa is not an anarchist union but it is rooted in the workerist tradition and has a long history of shopfloor democracy. It is the largest and most militant union in South Africa and its break from the ANC is widely seen as highly significant.

Johannesburg - Julius Malema’s history as a tenderpreneur, his Economic Freedom Fighters’ military command structure and lack of clarity on socialism are some of the factors that have apparently turned off Numsa from considering the new youth formation as an ally.

However, some EFF members and leaders are privately flirting with Numsa, which has withdrawn its support for the ANC and is looking for a new political lover.

In his secretariat report, general secretary Irvin Jim questioned whether the EFF could be trusted as a credible socialist alternative because the party’s support of nationalisation did not specify workers’ control.

“While Numsa’s position is a clear class position, the position of the EFF is not. The EFF is explicitly anti-capitalist, but it is not socialist. In the 22-page EFF manifesto, while there is a commitment to anti-capitalism and anti-imperialism, the word ‘socialism’ does not appear at all,” Jim said.

“The organisation is committed to a struggle against capitalism, but it does not clarify what kind of society it is struggling for.”

Senior EFF leader Floyd Shivambu told The Sunday Independent the party would not discuss Numsa’s comments in the media.

“I don’t want to have those discussions in the media,” he said.

However, it has been established that this week various senior EFF members were trying to secure high-level meetings with members of Numsa to broker a modicum of co-operation between the political formations.

Last week, Numsa acknowledged that during the EFF’s “brief existence” it had supported working-class communities and workers in the mining industry, and had also taken clear positions against e-tolls and labour brokers.

But given “how young the organisation” was, it was necessary to look at the “actions of its leaders before its formation”.

“The most disturbing issue for us as a working-class organisation is that the president and commander-(in)-chief of EFF has been a director of companies which do work for government on the basis of tenders.

“This is relevant, since it is EFF policy to rebuild the capacity of the state and thus do away with tenderpreneurs.”

“So, whatever his class position now, (Malema) has recently been a capitalist.”

Numsa also criticised the “democratic practice of EFF”, which had not yet “been seriously tested”.

In this regard, it assessed two aspects of the organisation – namely, its constitution and the principle of democratic centralism.

“Although there are clauses which claim to encourage internal debate, structurally it looks like a command structure, and it uses military language for its positions (commander-in-chief) and its structures (central command team),” Numsa said.

“Malema and Shivambu, key founding leaders of the EFF, were leaders of the ANC Youth League.

“Although no conclusive evidence is available, their leadership was plagued by allegations of undemocratic practices in relation to elections… and silencing of opponents.”

Another senior leader of Numsa also charged this week that leftist organisations such as the Workers and Socialist Party (Wasp) and Democratic Left Front (DLF) were opportunists trying to benefit from the union’s decision to break with trade union federation Cosatu.

Delegates at the special congress held in Boksburg outside Joburg also resolved that the union should stop paying fees to Cosatu and the SACP, and should withdraw support for the ANC’s election campaign next year.

He said the union would not align itself with the DLF or Wasp.

“We’ve never met with any political parties. We won’t meet with any political parties any time soon. The DLF and WASP are all opportunistic in whatever issuing of public statements,” he said.

DLF leader Mazibuko Jara said they would prefer to distinguish themselves from Wasp.

“We’re not Wasp. We wrote to Numsa asking for official attendance. We did not issue an official statement, pamphlet or paraphernalia until December 24 – after the Numsa special congress ended, which was a principled approach,” he said.

Weizmann Hamilton of Wasp said if someone from Numsa had made the comments, it was “disappointing”.

He said he believed that, given Numsa’s critique of the EFF and AgangSA, Numsa members were likely to vote for Wasp, which was contesting next year’s general elections.

“We are very inspired by the criteria used to evaluate the EFF and Agang. It surprises us (therefore) that comments like we are opportunistic (were made).”

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