Only a vote for the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party (SRWP) could free South Africans from the two decades of disastrous African National Congress (ANC) rule, National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) general secretary Irvin Jim said on Thursday.
Addressing the inaugural SRWP congress in Benoni to officially launch the party’s 2019 election campaign, Jim – who has ruled out public perception that he positioned himself to become an MP after the polls – said he was “not in a rush to go to parliament”.
He said the SRWP launch followed a resolution taken by Numsa at its special congress in 2016 after realising that the ANC-SACP-Cosatu Alliance yielded no results in implementing aspirations of the working class.
Said Jim: “This launch is about abiding by the collective decision of the organisation in 2016 at our special congress.
“We want to build Numsa and for it to continue taking up bread and butter issues of workers.
“We call on all workers, whether affiliated to Cosatu or Saftu, to vote for the SRWP – never to vote for those that continue to butcher your wealth.
“All other parties – including the ANC – have failed in the past two decades. The only answer lies in voting for a revolutionary party.”
He said funding for the launch of the SRWP was raised “locally and abroad”.
“This is not workers’ money. I can assure everyone that the workers’ money is intact at Numsa,” said Jim.
Reflecting on the ANC-SACP-Cosatu Alliance, Jim said: “We knew this was not going to be an easy journey, but a decision had to be taken to leave the Alliance.
“We insisted that we could not have nice English and say the ANC and its alliance was biased towards the working class when ANC policies bashed the working class.
“All that the ANC did in the Alliance was to merely manage us by allowing us to speak at Alliance forums.”
Turning to the ANC and President Cyril Ramaphosa, Jim said: “Thirty-four million South Africans have no plate of food – the majority are unemployed.
“Political parties go to them every five years and give them promises.
“It is extremely irritating and insulting when Ramaphosa cheaply uses Hugh Masekela’s beautiful song Thuma Mina (send me) as his slogan.
“Bra Hugh championed the cause of the working class in South Africa.
“Immediately after he died, Cyril Ramaphosa said in parliament Thuma Mina, while fully aware that his name was high in the Marikana massacre of mine workers.
“He is leading a group of right-wing ministers who want to privatise state-owned enterprises and energy at Eskom through the introduction of independent power producers.
“They are destroying 100,000 jobs by closing five power stations in Mpumalanga.
“They say they are not privatising but are decommissioning Eskom power stations – destroying delivery of cheap electricity.”
Said Numsa president Andrew Chirwa: “Today is an historic day in South Africa and in the whole world.
“South Africa will never be the same again after this congress.
“Doomsayers have tried to demonise this process.
“This is not party for reform but party for socialists.
“It is not an opportunity thieves and looters. They are not welcome here and must stay with the ANC and their Bosasa.”
The congress on Friday breaks into commissions to discuss working class internationalism, cadre development, gender equality, strategies and tactics, among other issues.