Monday, November 23, 2009

Zimbabwe: IST pursues case in bourgeois court against ISOZ 3

THE CASE IN WHICH ISOZ leadership is being charged with 'unlawful entry and theft' from our own offices was finally brought to court on the 19th of November 2009 at the Harare Magistrate court. The accused leadership of ISOZ coming out of custody on bail namely Mutero (National Co-ordinator) , Rera (NationalTreasurer) and Lovemore (Youth Coordinator). The complainant, deposed renegade socialist Munyaradzi Gwisai did not turn up and instead send his proxy Michael Sozinyu [also known as Mike Sambo - seen picture] being represented by the infamous Chinamasa and Chinamasa Legal Practitioners.

Commencing the hearing the state though indicating its preparedness for a trial requested for postponement of the trial due to reasons best known by them. The 7th of December 2009 was set down as the next trial date. However the prosecutor acting on the instructions of the complainant demanded that the accused be remanded in custody. However the magistrate ruled in favour of an option for bail. The state demanded a bail fee of USD500-00 each with stringent bail conditions. However the presiding magistrate upon pleas from the accused reduced the bail amount to USD50-00 with minimum bail conditions.

As we stated before, the criminal case is a cover up for the political wrangle that has engulfed ISOZ following the historic election of November 2008 which ushered a new leadership. The deposed leadership led by Gwisai orchestrated political sabotage within ISOZ that culminated 4 days in prison of the elected leaders.

As if this is not enough Gwisai and clique ignored our proposal to have the matter brought out of the court and be dealt with an independent tribunal constituted by workers’ organisations. Their (Gwisai) lawyer was quoted on the sidelines stating that he has strict instructions to pursue the case to its logical conclusion within the bourgeois framework.

Gwisai has clearly transformed from being a half-hearted socialist to being an openly anti-working people state agent, hence his appointment as the deputy chairperson of the land sub-committee of the Constitutional reform currently under way in Zimbabwe. For long, many especially the workers and other disadvantaged groups like the HIV/AIDs have had faith in Gwisai but recent developments has shown that Gwisai is indeed a socialist by word only.

What is more telling is the fact of being represented by Patrick Chinamasa’s law firm. Chinamasa one of the key architects and defenders of the brutal and oppressive ZANU (PF) and government machinery is a sworn enemy to democratic change in Zimbabwe, regionally and internationally. Gwisai's lawyer said quite cleary that he can only enter into negotiations if the accused plead guilty. Stalin would have been proud of him.

The case is thus unfolding as an alliance between the IST and Zanu-PF against the members of the ISOZ. To date, not a single group of the IST has come out in defence of the proletarian principle that disputes among us are not dealt with in the bourgeois courts.

This is particularly telling in that at the very moment, the ZCTU leadership are in prison for the mere holding of a so-called unauthorised meeting; MDC and community activists are disappearing, and Gwisai and the IST (because Gwisai still is listed on the SWP-Britain website as their contact in Zimbabwe) wants to put activists from the IS into the Mugabe Gulag.

The Green Left Weekly and others who are supposedly hosting a Socialist conference in January, and who regularly host Gwisai, are silent on the matter, the SWP-Britain maintain a deafening silence.

Quite clearly this is an agenda to eliminate and liquidate, just what Stalin did in Russia, the revolutionary organisation and other progressive movements in Zimbabwe.

We THEREFORE call upon all working class movements in Zimbabwe, regionally and internationally to condemn and disassociates themselves from dealing with Gwisai and clique. They have proved beyond any reasonable doubt that they are class traitors. They are on the payroll of the secret state machinery, so workers beware. For more information please read our November / December 2009 Socialist Worker edition.

In the meantime we invite all those agreeable to our cause to sign a petition which we will be circulating and to come and witness Gwisai testifying against democracy on the 7th December 2009 at Rotten Row Court 4 at 0830 in the morning. We are aiming for 10 000 signatures locally and abroad.

We have said before and we say it again, we want the information of the organization to get out of state hands as soon as possible. When we said that the equipment could go to a mutually acceptable third party, Gwisai rejected this, thus allowing tthe equipment to still be in the hands of the state. As we said before, the equipment can even be held in the hands of Gwisai temporarily, while a body such as IST Africa (or any other body in the workers movement that is not allied to the state, decides on who the equipment should go to. For us the most important is that the equipment, even at this late stage gets out of the hands of the state, but what we are not prepared to do, is to admit guilt on the matter as Gwisai is trying to force on us.

The calling of an International Moral tribune is crucial, especially now that the Trade Union Central of Bolivia has come out in support of the proletarian principle of not using the courts and in favour of a tribune. The trbunal will have only one agenda point: to hear the case against Gwisai, for the use of bourgeois courts in a dispute in our ranks.

We give our final appeal to the IST to intervene in the withdrawing of charges against us; otherwise it seems that they will also be called before the International Moral Tribune for having allowed activists, and from the own ranks at that, to disappear into the gulag of Mugabe, one of the most notorious dictatorships in the world. The IST will have to answer for their alliance with zanu-pf against their own rank and file. If not a single member of the IST has come forward n our defence, then we can reach only one conclusion, that we are in the wrong organization. The world proletariat awaits the answer from Gwisai and the IST.

Viva Proletariat Morality Viva

Viva Socialism Viva

Down with Bourgeois Mentality

Long Live the revolutionary working class vanguard fighters in Zimbabwe!


22 / 11 / 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Peru: Bolivian COB denounces jailing of Peruvian miners leaders Condori and Boza

Declaring solidarity with our miner comrades in Peru

The Executive Committee of the Central Obrera Boliviana denounces in front of the eyes of the world and Peruvian community the actions of Alan Garcia’s government, for imprisoning the miners comrades Pedro Condori and Claudio Boza, who are union leaders from Casa Palca mine. They were imprisoned for starting a strike claiming their social benefits following a decision of the miners sector assembly.

Alan Garcia’s government in a dictatorial way imprisons leaders, not only striking miners but everyone who criticize his government, imprisoning and submitting them to the bourgeois justice of that country.

This situation means that all Latin American workers must be united to break with the dictatorial governments who are subservient to US imperialism and we demand their immediate freedom and the right to free expression and protest of all Peruvian workers.

The COB will respond to any decision that our comrades workers from Peru may take and also we support morally and materially their struggles, we also reject any attempt at harming their rights and their jobs.






Emergency appeal by the International Trotskyist League of Peru

The hated Fujimorist regime of the FTA takes more workers as hostages

Free the workers and popular fighters of Peru!

On September 9th 2009, Pedro Condori, general secretary of the union of Casapalca mine was seized by the police when he was coming out of a meeting held in the ministry of labour building and put in jail. The prosecutors and the ministry of justice had never warned him that he was facing any charges. Then, Claudio Boza and Eloy Martin Poma, also leaders of the mine workers, were put in jail. Both Condori and Boza have been put in detention in the jail of Aucallama, with ordinary criminals, in Huacho, outside Lima –the capital city - where it is difficult to connect with their families. Without receiving any kind of medical attention, comrade Condori’s health is worsening by the day – he is already weak because of sickness from working in the mine.

They are accused of the death of a captain of a police battalion that wanted to slaughter miners in October last year when the miners went on strike in defence of their rights and blocked the main highway that links Lima with the rest of the departments of central Peru. The captain was killed, allegedly, by a rock thrown from above, by the workers, but there is no proof. Comrades Condori, Boza and Poma were in Lima in negotiations with the bosses and the ministry of labour when this happened. Their arrest amounts to a kidnapping and taking of hostages by the hated FTA Fujimorist regime!

Meanwhile, tens of militant workers and poor peasants from Amazonia are being kept in the jails of the government, with no medical care, subordinated to physical and psychological torture. Alberto Pizango and other leaders had to go into hiding to avoid being captured. The Distict Attorney’s (DA) office has denounced 240 leaders of the united front and the communal leaders of the struggle of Andahuaylas, who were at the head of the department strike in Andahuaylas in June/July this year. The D.A. also appealed for 35 years in prison for Zenon Cuevas, leader of the united front in Moquegua, which led the struggle last year.

In the meantime, the murderers who have been killing us for the last 30 years are still free. The bloody dictator Morales Bermudez, who was part of the “Condor Plan” to detain the political refugees who were escaping from the dictatorships in South America and who is also responsible for the death of three revolutionary Argentinean militants betrayed to the Videla dictatorship, is now introduced as a “patriarch” of democracy, since he led the agreed transition between the military party, to the Apra and the social-Christian right.

Belaunde and Paniagua (both members of Popular Action) who tortured, slaughtered and made people disappear in the ‘80s through the actions of the government, are resting in peace after being held up as holy saints of democracy.

Garcia, Villanueva, Mantilla and the members of Apra (Vilchez, Arana, etc.) with the businessmen Vega Llona and Favre, all of them organizers of the 1985-90 paramilitary squads, and responsible for killing, jailing and torturing militants during the three years of the current government, are free! Toledo, that 'indigenist' who killed everyone he could, almost twenty deaths “in defence of democracy”, and who gave amnesty to the military and paramilitary accused of murder, is free. The higher ranks of the army…are free!

On Friday, October 16th, five members of the “Colina” paramilitary squad were warned that they were going to be captured when they gave their statement to the judge. They had the freedom to go into the court and then leave “to buy a coke" and make their escape.

Enough! Fujimori, the former dictator, has big privileges: a luxurious confinement where he walks outside the special detention centre where he is being kept. While the killers are free, they have all the privileges, while the worker fighters and the poor peasants fighters are hostages of the bloody corrupt regime, who keeps the masses in starvation.

This attack on the working class and the exploited is just one of the offensives of imperialism. US imperialism, disguised as Obama, with the SouthCom and the coupists, kill and kidnap fighters in Honduras, while thousands of anti-imperialist fighters in the Middle East are being kept prisoners in the CIA and Zionist Israel's state jails. US and the “democratic” European imperialist troops are making a real bloodbath in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In Ecuador, Correa, the “Bolivarian”, kills workers and poor peasant leaders in the Amazonia, in defence of the transnationals’ interests.

The prisoners in Peru, kept hostage on behalf of the transnationals by their servant regime, are in jail because they fought in defence of the workers and against the imperialist interests. They are the hostages of the regime and imperialism. The regime puts in jail any workers who dare to resist the imperialist attacks. These are the prisoners of imperialism and their junior partners, the national bourgeoisie.

The FLTI calls on workers not to trust in the boss’s justice nor in the institutions of the authoritarian regime, which are at the service of the bosses and imperialism. That trust is infused by the CGTP leadership and the reformist left to prevent unity in action in the streets of the different sectors which have members in jail.

Only the struggle of the masses can free our class brothers in jail. The workers of the Miners Federation have called a 48 hour national strike (October 19th and 20th) to demand the freeing of comrades Condori, Boza and Poma. The fight in the streets, the general strike –which must be taken by the Peruvian workers movement-, the blocking of the highways, the pickets… This is the way to free our comrades! From South Africa to San Francisco, from Buenos Aires to Sao Paulo, from USA to Europe, from the ones who fight Zionism and the imperialist troops who kill in Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq, we call all the workers organizations of the world to stand up to fight in defence of our class brothers:

Unconditional freedom for Condori, Poma, Bozaand all the ones that are in jail because they dared to resist capitalist imperialism!

Unconditional freedom for all the resistance fighters in the Middle East, the thousands of Palestinian fighters which are in the jails of the Zionist murderer state and the Guantanamo prisoners of Bush and Obama!

We call all the workers organizations, unions, left parties and organizations who fight for human rights to make a wide unity in action. Let’s send protest letters, organize demonstrations in the embassies and consulates of Peru, and organize solidarity strikes for our class brothers.

A year ago a Peruvian miner delegation went to the Latin American and Caribbean Meeting of Workers (ELAC), which was called by CONLUTAS from Brazil, the UNT from Venezuela, the Haiti central union and the Oakland dock workers to support the COB leaders from Bolivia. These same COB leaders at the same time supported the Morales government which made a pact with the fascist Media Luna, the killer of workers and peasants!

But now, imperialism has given a brutal counterrevolutionary blow in Honduras. The leaderships of the workers, allies of the Bolivarian bourgeoisies, have demobilized the working class of the whole American continent. If a year ago they called for a Latin American and Caribbean meeting, why don’t they call now to all the workers organizations who claim to be militant and representatives of the anti-imperialist, anti-war fights, from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, to make a continental congress to unite to fight against the coupists with strong class actions (strikes and the calling and preparing of workers brigades to go to fight in Honduras)? What is stopping these organizations, who claim to belong to the working class, to to take militant and anti-imperialist action – like those that shut down the docks in the US west coast against the war on Iraq- from taking the lead in an international campaign to free the Peruvian miner prisoners, and to Free the Guantanamo prisoners, now tortured by Obama, as Bush did before?

Passivity means subordination to the Bolivarian bourgeoisies, to the “democratic fronts”, to the ones that reformism uses to subordinate the working class to their own bourgeoisies and regimes. Enough is enough! Guantanamo hostages, the Palestinian prisoners, the ones of Afghanistan, the mass murders of the African working class, the attacks of the transnationals –like the one of Kraft against the Argentinean working class-, the dismissal of 60 000 workers of the electricity company in Mexico, the planet overflowing with imperialist US military bases- this is the real plan that the exploiters of the world have to make the working class and the exploited of the world pay for their crisis.

As it happened during the counterrevolutionary attack of the Zionist fascist army on Gaza, the world working class and its organisms must rise up. The militant workers of Cosatu in South Africa, the youth and the insurgent masses in Greece, the rebellious youth and the workers who occupied the factories in France, the ones that yesterday set up the march for the million workers against the war in USA, the militant Japanese rebel youth (Zengakuren) and the movement of the revolutionary workers who fight against the new Democrat government of the Japanese imperialist butchers, who are oppressors of China and partners of the US, must be at the head of the combat right now and win in the streets and organize all kinds of actions in defence of the Peruvian fighters.

In Peru, let us build up a coordination organization in defence of all the prisoners of the FTA regime. The most useful organization would be a committee where each workers organization and those of the exploited people who have prisoners, legally accused, etc, have representation. The mass organizations, such as CGTP, the forest poor peasants organizations, such as Aidesep or Conacami, the organizations of coca peasants, etc. must be in the frontline of this struggle and organize joint actions to free the fighters and end all legal processes against them. Let’s not allow a single prisoner more! Let’s not negotiate or sign any agreement as long as they have tens of fighters as hostages!

But without any question, what will get our brothers and sisters out of prison, what will end the persecutions is the complete defeat of our enemies: the bosses, the transnationals and their servant, the Fujimorist FTA regime. This will be made by the methods of the working class, independently and fighting for its own interests, with a mass general strike.Forward!

Liga Trotskista Internacionalista LTI (Peru)

Member of the International Leninist Trotskyist Fraction

Workers International Vanguard League WIVL (South Africa)
Humanists Workers for Revolutionary Socialism HWRS (USA)
Liga Trotskista Internacionalista LTI (Bolivia)
Fração Trotskista FT(Brazil)
Partido Obrero Internacionalista-Cuarta Internacional POI-CI (Chile)
Communist Workers Group CWG (New Zealand)
Liga Obrera Internacionalista-Cuarta Internacional LOI-CI (Argentina)

Send messages of protest to:

Presidencia de la República Alan García Pérez

Att: Luis Nava Guibert
Position: Secretario General

Jefatura de Trámite Documentario y Archivo
Att: Ricardo Arturo Moreau Heredia
Position: Jefe de Trámite Documentario y Archivo
Teléfono(s): 311-3900 Anexo 328

Dirección: Palacio Legislativo - Plaza Bolívar - Av. Abancay s/n, LIMA 1
Teléfono: 311-7777
Fax: 311-7402

Luis Alva Castro
presidente del congreso de la republica


Dirección: Av. 28 de Julio N° 878, Miraflores, LIMA
Teléfono: 610-9800
Fax: 444-9168
Javier Velásquez Quesquén
Primer Ministro

Send messages of support to :


Secretario General: Luis Castillo

Dirección: Jr. Callao No 457 Oficina 311-312

Teléfono: (511) 427-7554 / (511) 423 4545

E-mail: ,

Zimbabwe: Bolivian Workers Central (COB) condemns IST use of bourgeois courts.

The Central Obrera Boliviana COB (Bolivian Workers Central) has been informed of the criminal charges against 3 members of ISO from Zimbabwe, comrades Adonia Mulero (National Coordinator), Fortune Rera (Treasurer) and Lovemore Manjonjo (Youth Coordinator).

From the Central Obrera Boliviana we call on Mr Munyaradzi Gwisai, leader of the International Socialist Organization in Zimbabwe (member of the International Socialist Tendency), to withdraw the charges of forced entry into the office of the branch, made against the comrades that are been taken to the jails of the government of the regime of ZANU –PF- MDC; we repudiate this method within our workers organizations. And we endorse the call of the comrades to set up an International Moral Tribune to put this informer in the defendant’s seat so all that this never happens again in the workers movements.

Long liVE workers democracy!!!

Out WiTH informerS FROM workers ORGANISATIONS!!!

DEATH TO fascistS, paramilitaries and informers!!!

La Paz, November 18th 2009

ON BEHALF OF COB Executive Committee

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Zimbabwe: IST digs deeper hole

From: Munyaradzi Gwisai <>
Date: Nov 16, 2009 1:55 PM
Subject: RE: Court Case
Cc: iso zim <>, munya gmal gwisai gmal <>


The NCC of ISO recently met and considered your above letter and responds as follows:

1. We reject out of hand the falsehoods, lies and insiuations in your letter and other documents you and your allies have widely circulated in relation to this dispute, including your being the legitimate ISO leadership in Zimbabwe, but which it will serve no purpose to go into detail or rebut at this stage.

2. As we informed you right from the start of this case and indeed as shown in our various offers to you to settle the matter out of court, it has never been our objective to have this matter resolved through the bourgeois courts.

3. Be that as it may, we remain willing as has always been the case, to settle this matter and welcome you finally coming to the same conclusion. We remain prepared to have this matter settled in an amicable manner that allows both organisations to proceed with their work without unneccssary distraction by this case. To that end we propose the following:

a. Jointly approaching the Harare Provincial Prosecutor, who had initially suggested this route but which you then rejected, and your confirming your willingness to have the disputed property currently in the hands of the police, being restored to our custody with yourselves reserving the right to initiate civil proceedings to assert your claim to the property, should you so wish, and our simultaneously withdrawing our complaint on such agreed settlement of the criminal matter.

b. The setting up of an arbitration tribunal made up of experienced revolutionary comrades from the region to determine on the dispute. We propose a tribunal made up from members of the IST Africa, since both organisations claim allegiance to such tendency and to ensure that we do not allow other hostile forces to take advantage of this dispute to accelerate division in the Zimbabwean left.

If you are agreeable to the above or have modifications to make please advice accordingly as soon as possible and thereafter we may arrange to effect the same, on or before the 19th November 2009, when the matter comes before court.

M Gwisai
[General Co-ordinator ISO on behalf of NCC, International Socialist Organisation]

From: ISO ZIM <>
Date: Nov 18, 2009 12:34 PM
Subject: Court Case


1. We thank you for finally clarifying that the case against us is by the International Socialist Tendency and the group that it recognises in Zimbabwe, and not a case made in your individual capacity.

2. We still maintain that we are the only legitimate group of the ISOZ but such dispute cannot be resolved over the email;

3. As we indicated earlier, one of our major concerns is that the secret information of the organization is in the hands of the state and now that you, for the first time indicate that you want to settle the matter, we immediately agree that we must do anything possible to get equipment and information from the workers' movement, out of the hands of the state. Out of concern, not only for our members but also for whoever supports you and even for you yourself, we are prepared to put the assets of the organisation (ISOZ) in the custody of an independent respected comrade agreed by both parties. We reject any mention of civil claims as we do not think that the courts can decide something like this. We maintain that the dispute be resolved by an International Moral Tribune. It is none of the business of the court which forum is used, that in the settlement agreement we can merely state that the dispute over ownership be resolved within the workers movement.

4. We reject a panel of comprised of any member of the IST as not a single group has up to now publicly stated, despite acknowledgement of receipt of our concerns, that they are in principle against the use of the bourgeois courts to settle disputes in the workers movement.

5. As we are the aggrieved ones, having been charged in the bourgeois court and having spent 4 days in Mugabe's Gulag, we are the only ones who can decide who should be on the panel of the International Moral tribune. Of course, these should not be members or supporters of yourself or us, but people of impeccable moral standing in the workers's movement, who absolutely do not believe in the use of the bourgeois courts to settle disputes in the workers' movement. We will be discussing the names and be forwarding them to you so that we can discuss the practicalities so that should you wish to give evidence before it, you are most welcome to.

6.We are happy that you have finally admitted that the assets in dispute are indeed ISOZ property, not of your private law firm.

Please send a draft settlement agreement to us for our consideration. Please call us so that we can make arrangements to go together to have the case withdrawn. We are also arranging for a witness to accompany us to the office of the prosecutor so that the first part can be handled in a transparent manner.

Comrade Mutero
National Coordinator
For the National Coordinating Committee of the International Socialist Organisation Zimbabwe (NCC -ISOZ)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Zimbabwe: Case of the IS tendency against members of the ISOZ to continue on Friday 6 Nov 2009 ...

Despite the principled position from the members of the ISO-Zimbabwe in defence of Mutero, Rera and Manjongo, the IS Tendency has not moved a finger to prevent the incarceration of these members in the gulag of one of the world's most hated dictatorships.

The principled position of the members of the ISOZ declare boldly that despite Gwisai charging them in a bourgeois court of the dictator Mugabe, they will not testify against him and will do everything in their power to ensure that the secrets and inner party documents that are currently in the hands of the state, are released therefrom, even if it means surrendering organizational material into the private ownership of Gwisai.

Already in the build up to this case, the ISOZ 3 had to endure 4 days in the cells of the dictatorship. Let us be clear, in Zimbabwe today, many activists are disappearing; their families, friends and organizations are looking for them, without success. We fear the worst for them. From the profile of investments in Zimbabwe, it is clear that US imperialism is the dominant player there and the dictatorship is bound hand and foot to it. In the backdrop of support by US imperialism, the Honduras coup was launched, thousands of the FARC rebels were massacred in Colombia. Yet Gwisai, with the support of the International Socialist Tendency, has no problems in handing over 3 members who he has a dispute with.

In the document, The case for revolutionary Socialism, (7 December 2003), by one of the main leaders of the of the IS, Alex Callinicos, himself an ex-Rhodesian, argues that one of the main pillars of the new world movement be based on justice. 'But what is justice?' he asks. He answers: 'it seems to me that the movement is committed to an egalitarian concept of justice'. Just how 'egalitarian' it is, is clearly shown by the use of the courts of a bloody dictatorship to settle inner-party disputes.

In the same document, Callinicos argues that the main vehicle for the way forward are the Social Forums. Well, dear comrades, when the ISOZ was arguing for breaking from the MDC when it was clear that it adopted the programme of the IMF, Callinicos was arguing that they should be patient due to their having the very Gwisai as an MDC member of parliament. When Gwisai was deposed as leader of ISOZ in November last year, he convened a faction meeting to give a cover to him becoming the chair of the Zimbabwe Social Forum (the IS path to not just socialism, but 'revolutionary socialism'). It is as head of the Zimbabwe Social Forum that Gwisai is vice-chair of the land committee that is preparing the 'new' Zimbabwe Constitution. Now, in order to smooth the path of another historic betrayal of the Zimbabwean masses who will still not get their land, where the families of the 20 000 peasants who were massacred by the very Mugabe regime in Matabeleland in 1983, will still not get their land- this time with the blessing of Gwisai, the main leadership of the ISOZ are about to be put in the jails of the bloody dictatorship. Is this what Callinicos means when he talks of the primacy of politics, in his paper , 6 Oct 2008, (Where is the radical left going?), written after the British SWP split into at least 3 parts.

It is true that the middle ground is rapidly giving way to 2 extremes, the radical left and the ultra-right. After Friday, it will be clear for the world working class that the answer to the question: Where is the radical left of the International Socialist Tendency going? The answer: to the ultra-right!

We call on the rank and file of the IS tendency to choose a divergent path from the opportunism of your leadership. Stop the case in the bourgeois courts for a dispute in the ranks of the working class movement, or at least in the movement that purports to be one.

send messages of protest to Gwisai to

send messages of support to the rank and file of the ISOZ at

Forward to an International Moral Tribune, comprised of irreproachable working class representatives, such as from the families of the 20 000 peasants who were massacred in Matebeleland in 1983, like prisoners of Las Heras, like the Oakland dockers, like the soliders unions in South Africa, like the Huanuni Mineworkers, like the minerworker leaders in the Peruvian jails, to judge those like Gwisai and the IS tendency who hand the heads of the proletarian movement over to the hands of a bloody dictatorship. Such is the real task before revolutionaries!

Shaheed Mahomed
African Secretariat
International Leninist Trotskyist Fraction.
with the support of the International Co-ordination Secretariat
1st Floor, Community House
41 Salt River rd
Salt River
South Africa
ph 0822020617
fax 0865486048

affiliated to the International Leninist Trotskyist Fraction integrated by
Liga Trotskista Internacionalista , (LTI) de Bolivia
Fraccion Trotskista , (FT) de Brasil
Partido Obrero Internactionaista- CI (POI-CI) , de Chile
Communist Workers Group (CWG) New Zealand
Liga Obrera Internacionalista- CI (LOI-CI) Argentina
Liga Trotskista Internacionalista- (LTI)Peru
Humanist Workers for Revolutionary Socialism (HWRS) USA
Workers International Vanguard League (WIVL) South Africa

Sunday, November 01, 2009

South Africa: Lessons from the clothing workers strike in South Africa

Shaheed Mahomed
1 November 2009 in News, South Africa

55,000 clothing workers in South Africa went on strike for 10 days in September this year. At a time other workers were demanding 15 percent wage increases and winning 13 percent, the leadership of the SA Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU) were only demanding a 7.9 percent increase. At the time, official inflation was at around 10 percent, while workers’ inflation was substantially more.

The biggest player in the clothing industry is the Seardel group which employs about 17,000 workers. The Seardel group has a 70 percent stake held by HCI, a company controlled by the clothing union, SACTWU. Despite this major shareholding, a company which was part of the Seardel group, called Frame Textiles, which was a huge player in the production of blankets and fiber for the local industry, was forced to close and 1,400 workers were retrenched earlier in this year. State-of-the-art equipment is now mothballed and being sold off to clothing capitalists elsewhere in the world.

When the bosses started off with a 0 percent offer, they were deliberately forcing the wage negotiations with Sactwu towards a strike. The bosses deliberately linked their wage offer to workers losing overtime pay if the stayed absent, even if they had a legitimate medical certificate. The question is why were the bosses so bold? There is a strong interconnection between the clothing retailers and the clothing manufacturers. Normally this time of year the factories are bursting with orders and many work overtime. Why is this year different? The clothes had to be ready for the shelves within weeks. The bosses could only have played hardball if the retailers have already made plans to source their clothing from elsewhere (eg cheap Chinese goods). This means that there was open collusion between the clothing and retail bosses.

Another point has now become clear as evidence points towards collusion between the trade union leaders and the bosses to hold back the strike and to defeat it. First, was the very low demand, in fact for a wage cut, by the trade union leaders. Secondly, after only 4 days of the strike, the union leaders encouraged the strikers to go back to work. The strikers rebelled and held out for more than 1 week further.

Many of the clothing and retailers are directly and indirectly owned by international banks. For example Foschini is owned by Investec, JP Morgan Chase, State street, Standard bank, Santam. Mr Price is owned by JP Morgan Chase, Northern Trust, State Street, Old Mutual. Wooltru is owned by Old Mutual, RMB, Deutsche Bank. All these international banks are in a deep crisis of having too much capital and not enough returns. The Chinese worker earns R100 (about 8 British pounds) per week while the local clothing worker earns about R600 (50 British pounds). The US banks are major investors in China and use it as a giant sweatshop. Despite the flood of cheaper Chinese produced goods, the retailers have not dropped their prices. In other words, the shift to China produced goods is a means of the major banks to increase their profits. They are not happy with 500 percent profit from the worker in South Africa, they want 1000 percent plus increase in profits. The international banks, who have shares in the retailers and the clothing companies, planned to shut the industry down and destroy the lives of over 300 000 people who are directly dependent on the clothing workers!

During the strike, a temporary agreement to limit ‘Chinese’ goods for 2 years, expired. It was clear that the bosses were planning mass retrenchments and were wanting to use the strike as a platform to start this process.

The bosses did not expect the workers to show the level of unity and determination. The entire clothing sector was shut down. The workers forced their leaders to call a secondary strike in the textile sector and a further 15 000 workers were preparing to join the strike when the bosses capitulated and gave in to a 7 percent increase for workers. The workers had already sent workers to Cape Town and Durban docks to temporarily block ‘Chinese’ goods for the duration of the strike. The clothing workers made it very clear that they were in full support of the Chinese worker but the capitalists were planning on bringing in scab products during the strike to keep their production going. The workers in Durban docks had in principle agreed to discuss the blockading of the docks when the strike ended. A blockade of the harbors were thought of because by the time goods left the factories in China, the Chinese worker would have been paid and the full loss would have been borne by the capitalists.

During the strike workers occupied the factories each day, escorting scab workers out by the front gate, and then strikers would leave the factory premises. In many cases police came to the gates to support the bosses. Even in the supposedly worker-owned Seardel group of factories, the police, armed with shotguns clashed with workers (we have some video footage of this). 20 workers were arrested in Ladismith on charges of public violence after they clashed with scabs.

The strike also coincided with the Congress of SA Trade Union Congress in September; thus all Sactwu delegates were strikers and they forced a resolution for a solidarity strike to be adopted.

This was the first time in the history of strikes within the clothing sector that there was an almost total shutdown of the sector.

Time to review workers’ shares in companies

Sactwu has invested millions of workers money in HCI, and thus in the Seardel group. HCI is an example of supposed ‘black economic empowerment’ but this company is still tied hand and foot to big capital, through the loans it had to make just to get started. HCI had to make loans to buy out a major share of the clothing capitalist, Searll. Thus if the Seardell group now closes, it will be workers’ money that will go to repay this loan. The workers would lose twice: first in loss of jobs, secondly in repaying the international banks. This is similar to what happened to General Motors in the US, where the government took over the company but stole workers pensions to repay JP Morgan Chase. 40,000 workers were still retrenched. The only way is to expropriate all the large clothing manufacturers, retailers and the banks, without compensation, and to place them under workers control. This is the only way for real empowerment of workers. A simple ‘nationalization’ like Obama did to GM, will only bail out the banks and smash the unions.

New leadership is needed

The low wage demand and the conduct of the union leaders in the strike shows that they were openly acting in favor of the bosses; it is time to choose a new leadership from those who proved themselves in the recent strike. It is time for real working class independence from the capitalists. The principle of the right of instant recall of any worker leaders as well as the pay for union officials to be limited to that of the average in the industry, should be seriously considered.

But as the recent strike and 40 day occupation of the Kraft-Terrabusi food factory in Argentina shows, it is important for workers to begin to organize politically as a class, independent of the mainstream parties, and on an international basis. [The factory has re-opened with the workers leaders dismissed, with the agreement of the union leaders, and under military police guard of production]. While big capital operates globally, workers are still divided locally and according to trades.

From Bikya Masr