In its New Year’s statement, the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) general secretary Irvin Jim called on those who “genuinely see themselves as communists” to swell into the ranks of the new workers party. “We call on you to help us build a workers’ party which will fight in the interest of the working class and the poor,” Jim said.
NUMSA believes that regardless of the change in leadership of the ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC) will continue to pursue right-wing, neoliberal macro-economic policies which will be hurtful to the working class and the poor. NUMSA argues that the ANC has for the past two decades waged an all-out assault on the working class and the poor. It further argues that the ANC has a long history of failing to implement resolutions adopted at its conferences, and this is why the working class must work to have its own political party.
In response to the statement the Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) came out in support of this call by NUMSA, saying “a mass workers party will provide a priceless advantage of providing an overarching unity and act as a central organising centre.”
South African Federation of Trade Union (SAFTU) to which NUMSA is affiliated, also came out in support of NUMSA, saying the ANC is unfit to continue to govern. But even though SAFTU has come out in clear support of NUMSA it has said in its statement that the debate is ongoing in its structures about the formation of a workers party.
The main concern about this call from other smaller working class organisations is the nature of the workers party and its timing. With 74% of precariat work not organised, the feasibility of forming a workers party based on grassroots level militant, socialist and revolutionary principles is in question.
NUMSA has been calling for a workers party since 2013; it will be interesting to see if it materialises this time.