October 31, 2011

Miners: When the alliance squabbles, the poor suffer

National Union of Mineworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has cautioned against "factional defences" by some leaders within the ANC-led tripartite alliance, at the expense of the poor. "We need to guard against narrow nationalism and factional defences of individual leaders, at the expense of addressing the growing challenges of poverty [and] unemployment," the National Union of Mineworkers of South Africa said.

In a statement issued after its two-day national executive committee, Numsa noted it was concerned with the reaction of working class formations -- South African Communist Party (SACP) and Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) -- in relation to the ANC Youth League's "economic freedom" march held this week. Numsa slammed the "cheap political innuendo" of some leaders within the alliance who believed the march was organised to undermine the ANC government and President Jacob Zuma's leadership. Earlier this week, SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande urged members of the ANC Youth League not to participate "any march that will not make a difference" in their lives. "We are not going to be supporting any march whose intention is malicious and is to undermine the authority of the ANC and the government," he said.

The march took place on Thursday and Friday with demands which included the nationalisation of mines, the expropriation of land without compensation, the banning of labour brokers, free education and decent housing. There was also conflicting statements ahead of the march by Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and its president Sdumo Dlamini, on whether or not the union would join the march. "Both Cosatu and SACP have a collective responsibility to lead working class struggles, and advance the centrality of the role of the working class leadership of the NDR (national democratic revolution) and the movement, including the leagues of the ANC," said Numsa. Its national executive committee also discussed the nationalisation of strategic companies like Arcello Mittal, Sasol, banks, mines and all monopoly industries. Numsa also wanted a state-led agricultural sector -- in which people are employed and paid a living wage to cultivate the soil -- as one of the mechanisms to defend existing jobs. "The government must promote farming with more meaningful incentives and ensure access to productive land," the union said. (Sapa)

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