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The National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa) has vowed to put pressure on the ruling ANC to implement the Freedom Charter by nationalising all key and strategic sectors of the country’s economy, including mines and banks.
Addressing a rally to mark the 25th anniversary of the founding of Numsa, union general-secretary Irvin Jim warned that failure to implement the Freedom Charter could turn the country into a “ticking time bomb” and trigger an “Arab spring” in SA.
Jim, whose union’s national conference opens in Durban today, also called for the review of the constitution, in particular the property clause, which he said, could perpetuate white domination. “This clause effectively means that whites, who constitute only 12 percent of the population, will continue to control the whole economy leaving the majority in untold poverty,” he said.
Numsa would reflect on these and other major policy issues and emerge with a “revolutionary plan” to take the country to “true freedom”.
“Government must nationalise mines and key sectors of our economy. We want all the strategic sectors of our economy to be nationalised in order to take the country forward. Also the Reserve Bank should be nationalised, so that instead of targeting inflation it will target employment creation.”
He said the labour movement would occupy streets to force the government to change economic direction and also ban labour brokers.
“As workers we want to go to the ANC policy conference and emerge from there with a revolutionary agenda. Then we will have to know which leaders should be elected at the conference in December and who would come and take forward that programme of the revolutionary agenda,” he said.
Jim asserted that workers’ pay was only enough to buy a shack in a township.
“Numsa is very clear that implementation of the Freedom Charter is not socialism but a solid, reasonable step to ‘equalise’ access to the economy as the only guarantee for peace, stability and security of both black and white people.
“The Freedom Charter says the transfer of SA’s wealth must be done in the interests of the people as a whole and not for manipulation by individuals be they white or black.”
On the controversial issue of a state youth subsidy, Jim suggested the scheme would turn the youth into the slaves of employers who would exploit them for every two years and then get rid of them.
He also hit out at the DA, referring to its leaders, Helen Zille and Lindiwe Mazibuko, as “Johnny Come Latelies” who should be “chased away” from the townships.
“The DA must not be allowed to criss-cross the townships because it represents the agenda of bosses,” he said.
In his address, Cosatu general-secretary Zwelinzima Vavi also called for the immediate banning of labour brokers.
“Our fight against the labour brokers is not over yet... We urge the government to move swiftly on the issue of labour brokers or face another march,” said Vavi.
Numsa is one of the left-leaning unions within Cosatu and espouses the policy of socialism and seen as closer to the ANC Youth League on the issue of nationalisation.