The ANC’s slogan of “we have a good story to tell” was a “fairytale” because the state continued to kill workers in the country, National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) president Andrew Chirwa told shop stewards yesterday.
He was addressing the union’s national bargaining conference in Pretoria.
“Workers in this country have a bad story to tell.
“The (ANC) are the ghosts of the vanguard of the movement. All that we succeeded to do was to replace white capital – a white man – with a black man,” Chirwa said.
“The apartheid state was oppressive, a brutal government. Are our people not killed today?”
He said the ANC was “a supervisor of white monopoly capital”.
Chirwa was referring to the killing of 44 mineworkers at platinum company Lonmin’s Marikana mine in August 2012.
A government-sanctioned commission of inquiry is still investigating the events leading to the deaths, but the majority of workers were gunned down by police in one incident.
“There is no political party – out of all of them – which can change South Africa without fundamentally implementing the Freedom Charter,” Chirwa said.
He said “enemies of our people and our revolution” had intensified their campaign to isolate and defeat Numsa, and that the forces of capitalism were plotting to expel the union from Cosatu.
Chirwa accused Cosatu’s leadership of attempting to drive his union out in order to turn the federation into a “conveyor belt” for the ruling party.
“When I joined Cosatu, I didn’t know it was a (machine) for elections,” he said.
Chirwa said the ANC was clear about its “implementation of anti-worker policies”.
“When you are still crawling from e-tolls, they klap you with the youth wage subsidy,” he said, in reference to two government policies that have driven a wedge between the ANC and its labour allies.
He said the leadership of Cosatu, led by its president S’dumo Dlamini, was “hell-bent” on being a “sex tribunal… asking about sex for a whole year”, in reference to the investigation into suspended Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi’s sexual relationship with a subordinate employee.
“And S’dumo is there like an nduna for this whole tribunal, the issue is sex scandal, and we claim to represent workers – for the whole three days of the last CEC (central executive committee) meeting there is nothing about taking the workers forward,” Chirwa said.
During a media briefing last week, Dlamini dismissed deepening divisions within Cosatu over the suspension of Vavi as “tribalism”.
Chirwa, who hails from Limpopo, said this was an example of Dlamini running out of ideas, which was a capitalist tendency.
“(Tribalism) is how we were divided under capitalism – now it is the leadership of Cosatu,” he said.
Deputy general secretary Karl Cloete said the 2012 Marikana massacre – which Numsa regards as a turning point – showed how the “oppressive arm of the state” was used to defend the interests of mining capital.
He added that former National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) leaders, from Cyril Ramaphosa to Gwede Mantashe, represented “an interconnectedness and inter-relationship between mining capital today, the ANC government and NUM”.
“Ramaphosa, who is a shareholder in Lonmin, calls those workers criminals… NUM calls those workers vigilantes,” Cloete said.