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Worker-led revolution a new battle for the ANC

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Shopprice South Africa

Johannesburg – The ruling ANC, politically dominant for two decades, faces multiple and growing challenges to its power this year – just when it has been weakened by its president’s numerous scandals. In this latest threat, senior unionists aligned to a new labour federation have warned of a worker-led revolution that will sweep away both bosses and the ANC.

This follows hot on the heels of the EFF’s impressive manifesto launch rally in Soweto, where leader Julius Malema threw down the gauntlet to President Jacob Zuma. After managing to fill Orlando Stadium, in contrast to the ANC’s mediocre manifesto turnout in the Nelson Mandela metro last month, Malema predicted the August 3 municipal elections would be a contest between only the ANC and his party.

While the new federation is considerably smaller thanCosatu, the ANC’s labour alliance partner, one of its striking features is that it looks set to start with a bigger membership base than Cosatu had at its own launch in 1985.

The driving force behind the federation is Numsa, the country’s largest union with about 380 000 members. Amcu, one of the fastest-growing unions, as well the country’s third-largest federation, Nactu, have both indicated their intention to join.

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim told more than 3 000 workers attending a Workers’ Day rally in Tembisa, Ekurhuleni, that the ANC’s reluctance to adopt pro-poor and pro-worker policies meant job creation would always take a back seat to capitalism.

“Capital will not compromise… it’s a system that works on greed. This… cannot only be resolved by prayer; it can only be resolved by revolution,” Jim said to thunderous applause. “It’s time for the ANC to dump Gear (Growth, Employment and Redistribution) and the NDP (National Development Plan) if this country is going to have a future. The problem is that they have no new ideas.”

Deposed Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi repeated Jim’s warning that the country would see rolling mass action aimed at organising workers to take control of the economy. “Run Zuma run. Run with your supporters in the NEC (ANC’s national executive committee),” he said.

“We will be everywhere harassing them. The employers, the bosses, wake up and smell the coffee.” The new federation, agreed to by most of the 29 unions that attended a workers’ summit on Saturday, aims to be more confrontational than Cosatu. Its founding principles include “militancy in fighting for the working class and the poor”.

It wants key strategic sectors of the economy, such as the mines and banks, nationalised, the mandate of the SA Reserve Bank to be changed from inflation targeting to focusing on job creation, the re-industrialisation of the economy, and local beneficiation of minerals and energy resources.

These are the same demands that Cosatu affiliates have been making for years. “Unions in Cosatu who agree with us must quickly get out of that federation. Workers who are still in Co-satu must realise they remain unorganised,” said Jim.

Labour Bureau

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