by Shawn Hattingh (ZACF)
The battle between Pravin Gordhan and Jacob Zuma has been presented along the lines of a superhero comic. Gordhan, the hero, is portrayed as the last defence against the rampaging villain, vile Zuma. And like all superhero tales Gordhan the good appears to be gaining the upper hand over Zuma the bad – especially since corruption charges have been dropped and the damning Public Protector’s report on state capture has been released.
Workshop contributors: Lucky, Pitso, Bongani, Siyabulela,
Nonzukiso, Nonzwakazi, Mzwandile
EDITOR’S INTRODUCTION: Today the terms “populism” and “workerism” are widely thrown about in South African political circles. Often, these terms and others (“syndicalism,” “ultra-left,” “counter-revolutionary,” “anti-majoritarian” …) have no meaning: they are just labels used to silence critics. SA Communist Party (SACP) leaders do this often. But in the 1980s, “populism” and “workerism” referred to two rival positions battling for the soul of the militant unions.
These debates, thirty years on, remain very relevant: let us revisit them, and learn. Today’s radical National Union of Metalworkers of SA (NUMSA) was part of the “workerist” camp, while its key rival, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was identified with “populism.” The early battles over the direction of the Congress of SA Trade Unions (COSATU) still echo today, although there is no longer a clear “workerist” camp.
It is said we live in a democratic country; but, believe me it is for the chosen few. Current Deputy President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, was once widely considered a hero of the working class. Today he is a hypocrite and traitor to us, the majority.
From 1994, when his career as a trade unionist ended and his career as a capitalist and state politician began, he has enriched himself at the expense of workers – he is a billionaire by the toil of our mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters.
Ramaphosa played a major role in the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), in the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and in the negotiations leading to the 1994 breakthrough. He became African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general in 1991 and ANC deputy president in 2012 – the ally of President Jacob Zuma.
In the years between, his business empire has grown massively. His interests now include a big stake in the Lonmin platinum mines; he is implicated in the 2012 Marikana Massacre of striking miners near Rustenburg. As a result, he had to testify at the Farlam Commission in Centurion, Tshwane, which recently ended.
This makes me wonder what kind of democracy and equality he was fighting for. He was a hero of the anti-apartheid struggle, but is now a villain of the parliamentary democratic period. He is covered with an indelible and negative stigma amongst the majority of South Africans.
But one may not be surprised: even his leader and ally, Jacob Zuma, runs the state with filthy hands, part of the large group of corrupt state officials and capitalists that loots our country.
In conclusion, all these so-called leaders are wolves in sheep’s clothing. And all that glitters, dear readers, is not gold! Parliament, rather than being a solution, is a place where the wolves come out to feast. This system of hierarchical rule always changes those people who join it. It is up to us, the working class majority – employed and unemployed – to change the system. Anarchism shows us the way.
Although the Constitution protects the rights of whistle-blowers, and we have laws that are meant to promote their rights (such as the Protected Disclosures Act), in reality there is not much protection for whistle-blowers and such people face huge challenges.
For example, people who “blow the whistle” on their employers often lose their jobs (even though the law says you cannot be fired for whistle-blowing). Sometimes the corrupt person will say the whistle-blower has broken the law and hire a lawyer to threaten them, or take them to court. Sometimes whistleblowers have even been hurt or killed!
South Africa’s whistleblowers are being targeted, intimidated and silenced.
We must stand with them!
At the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (Cosatu) media briefing on Thursday 21 November 2013, its president Sdumo Dlamini told a journalist that the federation is “yet to decide” whether or not to contribute financially toward the ANC’s 2014 election campaign. The briefing followed a Cosatu central executive committee (CEC) meeting.
But according to the Cosatu treasurer’s report, Cosatu budgeted R8 million for the 2014 ANC election campaign!