The Tokologo African Anarchist Collective supports the protest march held by members of the Khutsong community – where we have active members – to the Teba Bank offices in Carletonville.
We support, albeit critically, the Khutsong residents’ demand that local mining companies should provide them employment and job opportunities by sourcing labour from the surrounding community instead of busing in workers from the Eastern Cape and other provinces; workers who can be more easily exploited and oppressed by the mining bosses due to their status as migrant workers. While we do not want to deny our Eastern Cape brothers and sisters employment opportunities we also recognise that this practice perpetuates the legacy of the super-exploitation of migrant black labour as practiced under apartheid and further entrenches the inequalities created by that system of racial capitalism.
Furthermore, by literally dumping migrant workers in the townships surrounding the mines to save themselves the costs of providing accommodation for workers, the mining companies are sewing divisions in working class communities and putting already strained local resources and infrastructure (such as community clinics), under increasing pressure. This practice shifts (externalises) the reproductive costs of maintaining labour onto communities, many of which already suffer from very high levels of unemployment.
To challenge and reverse this legacy government and the private sector should create job opportunities in local communities as well as implement massive development programmes in historically disadvantaged and underdeveloped communities – notably townships and rural black communities such as those in the Eastern Cape from which workers bused into Gauteng to work on the mines come. In order to redress the legacy of apartheid planning and the underdevelopment of working class black communities this development must include adequate provision of free quality education and health care as well as the provision of basic services such as electricity, sanitation and water.
The mining companies, which rake in huge profits through the super-exploitation of black migrant labour and the externalisation (shifting) of reproductive costs onto communities must be made to contribute to this development. Furthermore, development should involve the direct participation and consultation of affected community members and the labour necessary to realise this development should be sourced from the same affected communities. Communities must be involved in deciding on and implementing the type of development they want.
Only through massive development and job creation programmes on the part of government and private companies, such as the mining houses, can we begin to move away from a situation where the black working class is divided amongst itself on tribal lines and according to who is local or migrant, employed or unemployed and, thus, begin to redress the inequalities caused by apartheid and colonialism.
We also support the Khutsong community’s demand that local mining houses should respect the Mining Charter in terms of their supposed commitments to social responsibility towards historically disadvantaged communities. This includes infrastructure building and development, job creation and rehabilitation of mining-affected areas.
However, while we believe it is important to support the Khutsong and other mining-affected communities’ demands on local government and the mining houses, we must also not be fooled into thinking that either government or private business can solve our problems.
We are clear that the sole interest of the mining companies is to generate a profit through the exploitation of black labour. One of the ways that the bosses increase profits is by keeping workers’ wages down, which is why they prefer to use migrant labour as migrant workers have historically accepted lower wages out of desperation. This is also why they shift the reproductive costs of maintaining these workers, for example in terms of health care, onto communities.
As anarchists we believe that the state and government are not there to protect and serve the interests of the black working class majority in South Africa but, rather, to protect and serve the interests of the ruling class by protecting private property and repressing workers and communities when they struggle for high wages and better living and working conditions.
That is to say that neither the private companies nor the state have the political will to improve the conditions of the working class because it is not in their class interests; they are rich because we are poor and they want to keep it that way.
Therefore, while we support the Khutsong community’s march today, we are aware that this is but one battle in an ongoing and protracted class war between the black working class majority – on the one hand – and the black and white ruling class elite, both in the state and private sector – on the other – that derive and maintain their wealth, power and privilege by exploiting and oppressing the black working class majority.
We therefore need to use this march – and other day-to-day struggles for jobs, higher wages, service delivery and development – to unite the working class in struggle – regardless of whether we are isiXhosa or seSotho, local or migrant, employed or unemployed – and begin to build a new mass movement of the working class that can impose our will on government and private companies and literally force them to accede to our demands of job creation, development and service delivery through working class mass direct action.