Irvin Jim, general secretary of South Africa’s largest trade union – the 370 000-member strong National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) – is the new chairperson of the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party (SRWP).
Jim accepted the nomination for the position over the weekend at the end of the three-day inaugural SRWP congress attended by more than 1,000 delegates.
They included representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Morocco, Tunisia, Zambia, Namibia, Sweden, Spain, the US and Nepal.
Also serving on the leadership structure’s central committee, tasked with growing membership, refining policies and the new party’s constitution, is Numsa national spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola.
The SRWP, which is expected to dent the ANC’s worker support base, is contesting the May 2019 national polls.
The SRWP enjoys the support of Zwelinzima Vavi’s fledgling South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) with 531,000 members.
According to Jim, the decision to launch a workers’ party was taken at Numsa’s special congress in 2013 – triggered by unhappiness with the ANC government “not taking up worker issues”.
Jim has described Cosatu’s role within the alliance as that of “rubberstamping ANC right-wing policies”, which he claims will include the sale of state assets amid the unbundling of Eskom.
The SRWP has resolved to determine “a living wage” for its MPs, with a percentage of earnings going to party coffers, similar to the levies imposed by the EFF on its representatives.
Some of the wide-ranging, pro-working class resolutions adopted by the SRWP congress
- Members serving on its national leadership should not be appointed to parliament or Cabinet.
- Party membership eligibility should be open from the age of 14, with socialist programmes taking place during school holidays.
- All the party’s cadres should undergo rigorous political training, sign a code of conduct and go through a 60-day induction programme.
- Online, community and the mainstream media should be used to reach out to potential members.
- A single education system for all South Africans should be created, eliminating private schools. Agricultural studies should be taught from primary school right up to the higher levels.
- The ministry of education should be depoliticised by following a process similar to that of the public protector in appointing the minister. This will ensure “the minister does not carry political party baggage”.
- The troubled National Student Financial Aid Scheme should be scrapped and be replaced by “free and decolonised education”.
- Government’s tender system and broad-based black economic empowerment should be abolished. This should be replaced by new legislation to curb fronting.
- Labour brokers should be done away with.