For the past two decades, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has consistently maintained that the worsening crisis of unemployment is a result of serious de-industrialisation.
This is taking place because of the failure of the ANC leadership to restructure the South African economy, minerals, energy and finance complex and its adoption of erroneous neo-liberal policies such as Growth, Employment and Redistribution, and the National Development Plan.
However, above all policies and decisions is the disastrous collective leadership of the ANC and its inability to champion manufacturing and industrialisation, and deliver a state that intervenes in the economy.
This crisis is not unique to South Africa. Since 2008, the collapse of the disastrous Washington consensus has plunged the world into a deep global crisis of capitalism.
It is directly responsible for the triple crisis of poverty, unemployment and inequality globally, and it has plunged our country into recession, a recession that is worsening.
The crisis in South Africa is revealed by Statistics SA on October 30. StatsSA paints a bleak picture. Over 6 million people are unemployed. The unemployment rate increased to 27.5% in the second quarter this year.
The number of unemployed persons increased by 127000 in the third quarter of this year after it rose by 102000 in the second quarter. The manufacturing industry lost 29000 jobs, the mining sector lost 27000 jobs, transport 20000 jobs and construction 21000 jobs. Only the finance and trade industries saw increases in employment in the formal sector.
The devastating impact of these job losses becomes more revealing when we take into account that every person who has a job supports up to five or six extended families.
This must be viewed as nothing less than a national crisis. In fact, the country is a ticking bomb. In addition, the jobs we have lost over the past two decades will never be recovered.
We are in this mess because this ANC leadership, for the past two decades, has refused to fully implement the Freedom Charter. They have refused to destroy and to overthrow the racist concentration and centralisation of wealth in the hands of white monopoly capital. In fact, under this leadership, apartheid has continued with a black leadership at the helm of government.
As a result, the ANC is like a ship in mid-ocean with no compass.
Choosing neo-liberal macro-economic policies over the liberation vision has meant that blacks and Africans, under the governance of the ANC, have continued to be economically marginalised and dispossessed.
This will continue because the land question, which is key to measure any liberation, has not and will not be addressed. Blacks and Africans have not and will not be affirmed into ownership and control of the economy, which has to be done through nationalisation of all commanding heights of the economy, and putting all our minerals under worker control.
Until then, we cannot beneficiate and diversify our natural resources and minerals to build new sectors and champion a job-led industrial strategy.
Not only are we in the middle of a deepening economic crisis, but in the past two decades the ANC-led government has not even been able to deliver on the most basic services, from housing to electricity, transport and other basic utilities.
This could easily be achieved. There are many examples across the world where countries have managed to use their resources to benefit their population in general rather than enriching a few.
In Norway, for example, with only its oil reserves, they have managed to institute a full social democratic system. They don’t just provide free education, healthcare, retirement, basic utilities, childcare and housing, but all of this is delivered to the highest quality and standard.
Yet in South Africa, we have minerals worth over R3 trillion, and our people are suffering.
This is the reason Numsa, using its Marxist-Leninist tools of analysis, did not support the so-called New Dawn of President Cyril Ramaphosa. Long before he and the new cabinet took power, Numsa was expelled by the alliance led by the ANC for stating the hard truth that the ANC has lost the liberation vision. Despite the rhetoric of the Thuma Mina brigade, our condition of crisis continues and the condition of the working class will worsen sharply under Ramaphosa.
Numsa is clear that the success of our revolutionary forces and success of the revolutionary agenda can only be determined by our country’s collective effort to reject and defeat privatisation of all our state-owned enterprises.
Numsa was there when they tried to give workers a 0% increase, and they call it an increase. We have witnessed how, from 2016, they connected the first phase of independent power producers (IPPs) that cost Eskom in that financial year a loss of R9billion.
We were there, in 2018, when Jeff Radebe confused everybody, including the national energy regulator Nersa to a point where Nersa, against the law, failed to convene public hearings when 27 IPPs had to be connected.
As a result, through Numsa’s principles and progressive attitude, we continue to maintain that we are not against movement from fossil fuel to renewables, but that we are for a socially owned renewable sector.
We support an energy mix, but it must be at a cost our country can afford, and the fundamental principle is a just transition.
If Ramaphosa cannot deliver a living wage for the super-exploited migrant workers, the industrial proletariat, workers in the public service, vulnerable workers, organised and unorganised, we will be stupid and naive to think that he can deliver freedom to the industrial proletariat and all workers in our country.
If the revolutionary agenda to create jobs is not implemented immediately, Ramaphosa will be permanently remembered as the Margaret Thatcher of South Africa: abusive, exploitative, whose leadership was an attack on the hard-won gains of the working class.
What our country needs is political leadership with a political backbone which is ready to face reality, take decisions and act on them.
* Irvin Jim is general secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.