Workers International Vanguard League condemns in the strongest possible terms the brutal suppression of the soldiers march yesterday to the Union buildings. Soldiers should have the full right to protest as well as the right to strike. It is a disgrace that rank and file soldiers earn such low wages while the officer corp and generals earn huge pay packets, sitting in their comfy armchairs while sending soldiers into life-threatening situations. We fully support the right of soldiers to elect their leaders in the army and that their leaders should be subject to instant recall.
The shooting of protesters in communities, of the municipal strikers for merely tipping over the garbage, here in South Africa is part of the world imperialist attack. The gold mines are owned by the Bank of New York; our Reserve Bank is controlled by JP Morgan Chase. Our economy is mainly controlled by US imperialism. The government is in reality the agent of imperialism here. This is why they guarantee that every year over R200 Bn leaves SA just in declared profits, while the masses live in starvation. This poses immediate challenges for us all. When we meet or organise, can we still operate as before? We need to defend our right to meet, to march, to protest. We need to defend ourselves from the armed attacks of the brutal police and other fascistic agencies.
Even worse, when workers are mobilising to strike, the Cosatu leaders divide the working class by not mobilising any concrete solidarity, and even break ranks to sign for peanuts and weaken the strike, such as when the railway workers went on strike recently (Satawu signed for 8% and abandoned the rest of the workers to strike on their own). The only reason why Cosatu leaders want unions of the soldiers to join them is not to increase working class solidarity, but on the contrary, to use their skills to betray the workers demands and struggles.
UPDATE: 28 August
UPDATE 30 August
Workers International Vanguard League has received evidence that the military unions have been attempting since at least May LAST YEAR, to negotiate wage increases fo the soldiers. Each time they were met with governmentnegotiators that had 'no mandate'. The fact that the fat generals received their increases in January this year means that the government was not serious about any negotiations with the rank and file soldiers and that they have been looking for an excuse to bash the unions. Te demand of 30% for the lower ranks and 15% for the upper ranks by the soldiers, goes against the divisions between the upper elite and the foot soldiers, so characteristic of capitalist society.
The current crisis of imperialism needs greater supression of the working class and the creation of a more openly oppressive professional army of mercenaries. Imperialism and their lackeys in the state were looking for an excuse to purge the army of any elements who might side with the working class. This trend to a professional army is one which came after imperialism drew the lesson of the war in Vietnam and the weakness (for them) of a conscipted or civilian based army. The war in Iraq, with its 300 000 mercenaries, is evidence of this world trend to more fascistic methods.
This explains why the police and the courts were so brutal in suppressing any protest. The ground is being laid for integration of more fascistic types into the army and makes us believe that the petrol bombing of the military vehicle last week could have been the work of an agent provocateur. If the state appoints Dramat as head of the Hawks- whose only claim to fame is being part of a intelligence crackdown on Pagad (where infiltration and framing of activists were of the order of the day)- this explanation seems not only likely but probable and could even become a more widespread tactic by the state to crackdown on the rsing tide of resistance. It also shows the methods of the FBI and CIA are alive and well in SA.
Down with the upper layer of officers of the Praetorian (like the elite in Roman times) army of the Afrikaner bourgeoisie, the Angloamerican and the bourgeoisie of the ANC!
Down with the assassin layer of officers that oppresses and massacres the nations of Southern Africa for the interests of American and British imperialism!
For the election and removal of the chiefs of the army by committees of the rank and file soldiers!
For committees of soldiers, armed workers and peasants!
For the Socialist United States of Southern Africa!
August 30, 2009
From: Humanists for Revolutionary Socialism (HRS).
To: To Our oppressed soldier brothers, workers in uniform under state attack in South Africa in care of the Worker’s International Vanguard League (WIVL).
We denounce the South African state for its unconscionable behavior towards you and its illegal actions against you and your brothers. It is important for soldiers to know that there is worker opposition here in the “belly of the beast” to their ultimate bosses, our own main enemy, the U.S. capitalist class. We demand all U.S. imperialist forces (overt and covert) out of Africa now! Their only purpose on your continent is to further the exploitation of your people and the appropriation of your resources.
We stand opposed to them and all their plans to put you in harm's way and keep you hungry. We stand opposed to the obscene fat Boer and English generals who live off your sweat and to all the sadist and martinet junior officers that make your life hell. We denounce all the bourgeois authorities and the way their police "support the troops" with tear gas and gunfire. We denounce them and phony union leaders who stand with them when they deny your basic democratic rights to protest and to struggle for living wages and conditions. We know "leaders" like these. We call them class traitors.
The soldier's fate, as rank-and-file soldiers, is tied up to ours as workers in ways that cannot be dissolved, as the history of all modern revolutions shows. The political forces of the yes men for American and British imperialism, together with the Stalinists of the South African Communist party, have stalled out and sold out your proletarian revolution, and with it your national liberation. They move you around the African map in support of every imperialist scheme to rob one locality after another. These political forces of yes men are the ones who want to prosecute you now. It is they who are denying you the pay you need to feed and clothe your families!
Brothers! You are living under conditions of the slave-owner's tyranny. The South African bourgeoisie wants you to do their imperialist masters' dirty work on YOUR continent. They want you to do this for the kind of chicken feed pay they paid the non-white colonial levies (draftees) they led to slaughter in the past! They want you to do all the dying defending their class and the rule of the laws of their class' dictatorship. They want you to die for them like a Gunga Din, fighting his own oppressed people when they rise up in righteous revolt.
You have organized! You are our Union Brothers now, no matter what our top COSATU and AFL-CIO misleaders say! You declare you will never surrender. That is a tremendous source of strength for us! We in the HRS and your champions, the WIVL, will go every mile of the way with you! For you will come to find that for you, as for us, the Socialist Revolution will be the only road out of the crisis of human survival and development!
We stand behind all your demands in the Proposed Agreement and demand the dropping of all charges against the jailed Brothers! For 30% raises NOW covering all 12 months of 2009! For immediate new Collective Bargaining talks to begin as soon as this Trade Agreement is in effect! For an across-the-board 5% raise increment on April 1, 2010! For a 1% check off for all those in uniform payable to THE UNION, etc. We support your demands in detail! And we demand the reinstatement without prejudice of any kind to their records for all the Brothers who were discharged/dismissed!
We stand behind all the demands raise by the WIVL on your behalf. Your situation is part of and not something different than a generalized South African crisis within a world crisis of capitalism/imperialism. Understood this way we know an injury to one of you is an injury to us all. To advance the struggle the following additional demands are endorsed and recommended for adoption by the soldiers and their supporters
1. Down with the Praetorian layer of officers of the army of DeBeers, Anglo-American and the bourgeoisie of the ANC.
2. Down with the assassin layer of officers that oppresses and massacres the nations of Southern Africa at the command of American and British imperialism.
3. For the election and for the right of recall and substitution of the chiefs of the armed forces by Committees of the Rank-And-File Servicemen to assure the military acts only in the interests of the working class, the oppressed and poor peasants.
4. For Committees of Soldiers, Armed Workers and Peasants.
5. For the Socialist United States of Southern Africa!
Dear comrades of the SA National Defence Union,
We strongly support your right to fight for a living wage, and for the right to protest and demand this and other necessities of life. We salute your militancy and your slogan "we will never surrender". This is a slogan that the whole working class should take up internationally.
We can see that you are not alone in South Africa, nor around the world, where there are many mass struggles against the global economic crisis, and the attempts by the capitalist parasites to make us bailout their system with the food out of our childrens' mouths. It is obvious that for us to live capitalism must die!
The capitalist system is in crisis, and the only thing stopping its downfall is the capitalist ruling class which uses the treacherous union leaders to hold the masses down, and weaken and divide them, while the state forces and paramilitaries prepare to smash them.
The way to end the system is for the workers in uniform to refuse to obey orders to shoot the workers out of uniform, and to join with them to occupy the workplaces, take control of transport and communications, and form armed defence committees to defeat the officers, the mercenaries, paramilitaries etc., and to fight for a Black Socialist Republic of South Africa.
Dave Brown (for CWG - member of the International Leninist Trotskyist Fraction).