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South Africa: Founding of Workers and Socialist Party
Following the heroic strike struggles for a living wage by miners in South Africa's platinum and gold industries last year, pressure has built for a new, mass working class political alternative to the ruling ANC. On the initiative of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM, the sister organisation of the Socialist Party in South Africa) a press conference was held before Christmas to announce the formation of a new political party. Its formal launch will be on 23 March 2013, coinciding with the anniversary of the 1960 Sharpeville massacre. The following are extracts from the founding press statement.
An event that has the potential to change the political landscape of South Africa, as Marikana [where 34 platinum miners were gunned down by police acting on behalf of the government and mine owners] has done on the industrial plane, was marked in the founding of a new political party, the Workers and Socialist Party (WASP).
The need for such a party was clearly evident in the reports given by strike committee leaders of the situation that exists at various mines around the country after the return to work. At Bokoni Platinum a virtual state of emergency has been imposed and workers found not at work in the surrounding villages are frog marched to report for duty at the mine.
WASP will have to put as one of its key demands the nationalisation of the mines under the direct ownership, management and control of workers in the process leading to the socialist transformation of society which is the only basis on which a lasting solution to the problems of mine workers and the working class as a whole can be found.
WASP will have to distinguish itself from all other political parties by its clearly socialist programme, its approach to electoral politics as but one terrain of struggle and by its public representatives being subject to the right of immediate recall and to a worker's wage.
It will demonstrate the irrelevance of the ANC conference where candidates contesting for leadership are all committed to the preservation of the enslavement of the working class under capitalism - the very system WASP is dedicated to abolishing.
In the coming days and months leading to its launch WASP will mobilise support for the party with a resolution calling for the building of the party to popularise the idea of an alternative in organised formations such as unions, community organisations, social movements and like-minded political organisations who will be invited to adopt the resolution as part of their formal affiliation to WASP.
WASP will be a fighting party that will unite service delivery protests, student struggles against unaffordable tuition fees and workplace struggles against short time, retrenchments and labour broking.
DSM Executive Committee, the Strike and Workers' Committee Representatives of Bokoni Platinum, Harmony Gold, Anglo Gold Ashanti, Royal Bafokeng and Murray Roberts.
17 December 2012
In The Socialist 9 January 2013:
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