‘The struggle against Apartheid did not liberate the working class’

Irvin Jim, the general secretary of South Africa’s biggest union the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), thinks the time is right for a new struggle for socialism

“Our wish is the revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist system that has brought us to where we are,” he said.

“The ANC led the struggle for liberation in South Africa. Twenty years on it is clear that 1994 did not deliver liberation.”

Numsa voted last December to withdraw support for the ANC and wants to see a new workers’ party.

“While there have been marginal improvements in water, sanitation, electricity, education, housing and so on, all these have been on the basis of retaining the basic racist colonial economic framework of capitalism.

“Numsa cannot continue to support an ANC that implements neo-liberal policies and protects the dominant capitalist interests.”

He said, “It is our objective to work towards the creation of an independent political party for the working class, to spearhead the struggle for socialism.”

“South Africa’s working class has a long history of socialist struggles against capitalism and imperialism.”

“We need socialism but there’s no hope of radical change under the ANC government.”

Human rights lawyer Dali Mpofu stood as a candidate for the new Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party in Gauteng province. He wants a young and diverse left challenge to the ANC

“EFF is part of the historical evolution of resistance politics since 1652, the arrival date of the first colonial settlers in the Cape,” he said. “We believe in a future non-racial society and we accept white membership.

“Our revolutionary outlook is primarily focused on class oppression, although it clearly manifests itself in racial terms given the history of South Africa.”

Dali thinks the ANC went astray in abandoning its radical tradition. He had been a member of the organisation for more than 30 years. He has been defending the families of miners killed in the Marikana massacre.

“The ANC, at its December 2012 national conference, deviated significantly from its own stated agenda and shifted to the right,” he explained.

“The future is socialism. There is no hope in hell to bring about the necessary radical transformation within the neo-liberal outlook of the present government.”

Dali is keen to emphasise that EFF is a serious contender. And he is proud of EFF’s ability to attract young people.

He said, “It is due to this youthful energy that the party has grown so fast and so rapidly. However, there is clear and noticeable support coming from other age groups. We make deliberate efforts to recruit across race and gender. This is reflected in our candidate lists and leadership structures.”

EFF is watching Numsa’s project with interest. “We support Numsa’s calls for a conference on socialism and a united front of the left,” he said.

Interviews by Socialist Worker UK


Solidarity meetings

Latest articles

Read more

Voters punish ruling ANC in South African election

The African National Congress, the party of Nelson Mandela, has slumped below 50 per cent of the vote for the first time in the general election held at the end of May.

Tutu: a fighter against apartheid, in South Africa and Palestine

One aspect of Tutu’s politics that most official “tributes” have avoided mentioning is his support for the Palestinian struggle.

Zuma’s fall a sign of ANC’s failure in South Africa

The demise of President Jacob Zuma has exposed has far the ANC government of South Africa has fallen. His mammoth corruption had been public knowledge for years.