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Build a workers party – mass struggle for a SOCIALIST budget
We support the Working Class Summit-organised budget march. It is taking place in Cape Town tomorrow (20 February). We call on all trade unions and working class community, youth and student organisations to support it. The working class must build unity in struggle!
There is a new finance minister. But the working class and poor have no illusions about what Tito Mboweni will announce in the budget. On behalf of the ANC government, and behind it the capitalist class, we will get a stepping-up of the offensive against the working class that Ramaphosa has already begun. Ramaphosa, announced a “new dawn”. But Mboweni’s mini-budget in October last year fired the first shots in the sharpening class war: a VAT increase; sugar tax and increased fuel levy. Since then, tax revenue, including corporate tax collections have fallen. The budget deficit and government debt have increased. The bill will be presented to the working class. The bosses are screaming for 30,000 retrenchments in the public sector and Eskom whilst continuing retrenchments in the private sector. To weaken working class resistance Ramaphosa has also crippled the right to strike. The lines of class war are clearly drawn. Unemployment, poverty and inequality are here to stay as long as the running of society is left in the hands of the bosses and their politicians.
But it is not only the ANC that is incapable of offering an alternative. An election may only be months away but no government based on the existing parties in parliament, in any combination, coalition or otherwise, can make a real difference to the lives of working class people. That is because none of these parties has a programme to break with the capitalist profit system or a perspective for organising mass struggle to replace it with socialism. The already massive abstention rates in elections – more than 11 million people chose not to vote in 2014 – shows working class people understand that capitalist politics offers them nothing.
We support demands to raise taxes on the rich and big business. But this alone is not enough. What the working class does not own it can never really control. If the bosses are left in charge they will always find ways to sabotage anything that hurts their interests. We therefore raise the call for a socialist budget built on the foundation of nationalisation under workers’ democratic control of the banks, the mines, the commercial farms, the big factories and big businesses. This is the only way to release the wealth needed and begin to develop a democratically planned economy capable of ending unemployment and winning a living wage, decent working conditions and permanent jobs, high quality and affordable housing and efficient and reliable services.
But the bosses will never just give this to us. We will need to organise and struggle for it. The trade union movement needs to take the lead by building co-ordinated campaigns of rolling mass action on all issues facing the working class. In the workplaces especially, this means a struggle against ALL retrenchments and for a living wage of R12,500. Wherever union members and shop stewards are blocked by corrupt or conservative leaders they should set up industry- and sector-wide action-committees that unite the workers of all federations, unions, and those not yet members of unions, in campaigns of rolling mass action. In non-complying workplaces and industries workers should enforce compliance through occupations that demand nationalisation under workers control. The Saftu-organised Section 77 strike at the end of March should be a springboard for this militant programme.
Both Saftu and the Working Class Summit have passed important resolutions in favour of creating a workers party that first and foremost unites the struggles of workers and communities. The need for the working class to win political power needs to be posed clearly and placed at the forefront of all working class struggle. Forward to a socialist mass workers party! Forward to socialism!