News from Namibia
We are pleased to publish the combined newsletter of TCL miners and United Fishermen.
We are pleased to publish the combined newsletter of TCL miners and United Fishermen.
We are pleased to post the latest newsletter from the United Fishermen
The WRP Political Committee greets the workers of Namibia, Southern Africa, Africa and the world on this 1st day of May, Workers’ Day, which symbolizes the bloody struggle for workers’ rights over many, many decades. These rights included the right to organize and belong to unions, the 45 hour week, the right to withhold labour etc.
For Namibians this struggle culminated in the labour rights contained in the 1992 Labour Act.
Since 1992 however, these rights were rapidly eroded in rogue courts, new legislation drafted by corporate business and passed by the new regime, parading as the great liberator.
The Marikana Massacre on 16 August 2012 exploded the Southern African myths of the ‘liberation movements’ defending and furthering the rights of the working people.
NUMSA, the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa, formalized the concrete fact that the regimes like SWAPO and the ANC were agents of the capitalists against the working class. They stated, “that unless the working class organises itself as a class for itself it will remain unrepresented and forever toil behind the bourgeoisie”.
Now that these regimes have devoured the crumbs thrown to them by finance capital, mining, and commerce to pose as states, the SADC States have declared that they are on high alert after self-manufactured evidence surfaced of imperialist tendencies to destabilize them by regime change. Their trigger fingers are itching for a few more Marikanas to earn bale-outs from their masters.
But, the peace and stability which they claim is being threatened, is threatened by the unrelenting attacks on employment, labour and union rights, which these regimes are spearheading on behalf of the capitalists.
Their paranoid and neurotic threats underline in red the NUMSA declarations and should put the regional working class on high alert.
The Namibian regime is totally bankrupt as can be seen from the abandoned construction projects one month into the new financial year; from the piecemeal payment of teachers at the end of April, etcetera, etcetera.
They wish to make their crisis, the crisis of the working class. Oh!, how they wished they could have made it a tribal conflict of the working class!
The WRP’s message is, dedicate this May of the year of the Great Workers’ Revolution, 1917, to the Unity of the Working Class and to stay alert to build their independent fighting organs to defend itself and the Working People from the Ruin the capitalist ruling classes wish to bring upon the people.
March forward to working class unity in the Southern African Region, Africa and the World.
It is the only way forward to redemption!
Secretary of Publicity.
WORKERS REVOLUTIONARY PARTY TO REBUILD THE FOURTH INTERNATIONAL
P.O. Box 24064 Windhoek Tel: 061-260647 firstname.lastname@example.org
Why did the party loose it’s N$1.3 million allowance from Parliament in 2015? Why has the WRP distanced itself from it’s own representatives in Parliament? What type of “communism” does the party stand for and does it have a place in our modern democracy?
Alna Dall speaks to President of the WRP, Hewat Beukes
An interview with Party President, Hewat Beukes
Out now! The latest issue of Namibia’s Proletarian Newsletter.
In this edition:
NUMSA & United Front
Inside this issue:
Fishermen Seek Solidarity and Assistance
WRP Parliamentary Report
WRP “Open Demand”
Reply to President’s ‘State of the Nation’ speech
Ethnicity, Racism and Discrimination
‘Brexit’ Vote a Symptom of Stagnation
Labour Party and the Recovery of Struggle
Notes on the Economy
We have been advised by cd Hewat Beukes that we could send the following documents to you as you are in the same organisation, The Workers International. We hope you will assist in any way in our international campaigns of struggle against the international capitalists and our capitalist government. These documents we have sent to NUMSA with whom we wish to establish brotherly and sisterly links. We also want to establish similar links with your workers.
The United Fishermen 2
The United Fishermen 3
The United Fishermen 5
Mbapewa Kamurongo, Matheus Lungameni
On behalf of the Steering Committee
Out now! The latest issue of Namibia’s Proletarian Newsletter.
In this edition:
4. Jeremy Corbyn
By Hewat Beukes 11 June 2016 at UN PLAZA, Windhoek
The struggle for what is today known as Namibia started in 1884 with the advent of German colonialism. At first it started with the southern peoples, the Nama, Baster, Damara, the Herero and the Bushman where the Germans had immediately seized land. The groups initiating the struggle against the German were first the Nama followed by the Herero. The Baster later followed.
These struggles against the Germans culminated in the extermination wars against first the Nama and Herero in 1904-8 and thereafter the Baster in 1915.
In 1919 the League of Nations ceded the administration of the ‘territory’ including Ovambo and Kavango lands with the Çaprivizipfel’ to South Africa. Having been driven out of South Africa by ever expanding colonial annexation and land expropriation, the Khoisan in specific the Rehoboth Basters were the first to resist. Since 1919 they filed petitions to the League of Nations to object against South African colonialism. In 1923 an uprising of the Herero and Baster was looming in Rehoboth, but the town was encircled by South African troops with machine guns and canons. The Baster and Herero were disarmed, the Herero banished from Rehoboth and more than 40 ‘ringleaders’ of the Baster were to die by firing squad. A last minute intervention by the League of Nations staved off the execution.By then the Herero had lost virtually all their land and the Baster 2 thirds of their land.
The resistance continued on the political level with frequent petitions to first the League of Nations and then its successor in 1945, the United Nations Organisation (UNO). Civil resistance was continued by the nationalities led informally by Hosea Kutako of the Herero. He would later commission Baster, Herero, Ovambo emissaries to the UN to argue the case for Namibia and present the demands for in particular the land and self-determination of the nations of Namibia.
In the meanwhile a new evil had arisen under South African colonialism. Contract labour. In 1943 as a measure to institutionalise slave labour from the populous northern areas of Ovambo and Kavango lands, the South West Africa Native Labour Association (SWANLA) was established by the South African Administration. It brought young men from the north under conditions tying them to specific employers (owners/hirers) in the south in particular the mines, but also to the farms. Farmers and even small businesses of all races and tribes in the south used the facilities of this slave system.
Farms became killing fields for many of these young workers.
Together with skilled and semi-skilled labour from the south they built the Namibian infra-structure and untold profits and wealth for the mining bosses, commercial business and a fledgling industry including fishing.
The toll on them was horrendous. Besides the horror on farms, fathers and youngsters were broken from the families in humiliation and deprivation. It was the most complete system of deprivation and dehumanisation.
By 1960, the following social-economic and political demands and expectations, expressly and implied, led in the national demand for self-determination:
In 1959 there was the Old Location Uprising. SWANU leaders such as Kaukwetu played distinctive roles in directing the masses led by Damara and Herero women.
The sixties saw SWAPO initiating a token guerrilla war on the insistence of the AOU. This was not a serious attempt as illustrated by the fact that the Commander-in-Chief Sam Nujoma and his second-in-command Lukas Pohamba from Lusaka visited the South African Army and Intelligence at the international airport in Windhoek from where they went to Pretoria after which they returned to Zambia.
By 1970 the nation was politically represented by tribal chiefs, SWAPO was an Ovambo tribal organisation, SWANU a nationalist organisation supported by workers and lower middle class elements. Workers were embroiled in labour struggles in particular the contract labourers but by 1978, there was a fully-fledged national workers movement led by the Rössing miners articulating broad workers’ demands.
In 1971/2 contract labour staged a national General Strike which ignited the whole of the Southern African sub-region and led to 4000 youth fleeing in its aftermath to Zambia following persecution and torture by northern tribal authorities.
In 1970, in an attempt at a United Front, the National Convention was convened on 13 November 1970 in Rehoboth by the tribal chiefs, the Volksparty, SWAPO and SWANU. In response thereto the UN declared SWAPO the Sole and Authentic Representative of the Namibian Nation.
This was a clear renunciation of the Right to Self-Determination of the Namibian People.
Again, in 1975 after the declaration of the Namibia National Convention as the successor of the National convention the UN reiterated the status of SWAPO.
But, already a crucial incident had occurred earlier in 1974. Chief Clemens Kapuuo commissioned by the NC visited Europe and the United Nations to argue the case for independence for Namibia. While in Europe he sought the assistance of Peter Katjavivi the West European Representative of the SWAPO. While hosting the Chief and his delegation, Katjavivi blocked his access to African, European and Carribean Governments by slandering the Chief as a South African agent. The Chief met closed door upon closed door and was informed of SWAPO’s Sole and Authentic Representation status.
This broke up the National Convention. The Chief returned and joined the South African initiative to ostensibly lead Namibia to self-determination through what would become the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance in 1976.
This opened the door to forced conscription of Namibians into the Territorial Army.
There would have been no successful forced conscription if it was not for this particular event offset by SWAPO’s Sole and Authentic Representative status.
The malice of this act by the UN and the imperialists is seen in the fact that at the time they conferred Sole Representative status on SWAPO, PLAN and SPYL were in political struggle on the following issues:
The foreign missions and the United Nations in Zambia were aware of the full extent as the SWAPO leadership’s inability to be the Government of Namibia.
SWATF, PLAN and the agreements for DISARMAMENT, DEMOBILISATION AND REINTEGRATION
It is within the above historical background which the question of the SWATF and PLAN must be viewed.
With the clear denial by the UN and the imperialists of the Namibian peoples’ right to choose their own representatives, tribal chiefs saw their only way out of a prospect of dominance by a tribal force itself as accepting the prospect of at least limited self-rule by the colonial power.
A result was forced conscription which saw teenagers and young men forced into the army most against their will, some out of joblessness, and a few out of choice. They were from the working class and poor peasantry.
The war itself was a low intensity war. More SWAPO members were killed by the SWAPO leadership and the SWAPO leadership in collaboration with South African than died in the war. The war reached some degree of seriousness only because of the commitment of fighters who thought they were fighting a just cause. Those who excelled were killed, because the war was not meant to be serious.
(Cassinga in 1978 and 1 April 1990 alone caused an estimated 1500-2000 deaths.) Thousands more were killed and thousands were not accounted for.
Nevertheless, this ‘war’ is the stuff from which the SWAPO leadership manufacture enduring myths: the war (meaning they as freedomfighters) brought independence. SWAPO was not part of the negotiations, in any event, not a decisive participant: The terms of independence were determined by the 5-Western Powers and negotiated with the Soviet Union, and South Africa. The period 1976-89 had seen a giant working class rise in South Africa in solidarity with the Namibian working class who were fighting pitched battles and brought the South African economy to its knees. By 1989 4 million workers could down tools at any one time.
South Africa could no longer rule under Apartheid and it found in the SWAPO leadership the tool to continue its rule.
Thus, since 1982 they worked out the conditions under which Namibia would become independent. SWAPO as a condition to be allowed to rule Namibia agreed to every condition guaranteeing the continued rule of the colonial ruling classes.
The issue of the SWATF and its demobilisation and reintegration were merely technical issues.
These modalities were contained in the 1982 and subsequent agreements and in terms of the Labour conventions of Namibia. Severance pay, pension and insurance had to be paid out. Jobs had to be created, preferably by integration into a Namibian Army.
SWAPO reneged on these terms immediately upon taking over government.
The reason why they did so and why they could so were twofold:
A black irony started to emerge. The issue of PLAN and SWATF were treated as a moral dichotomy: the one was a freedom-fighter and the other a murderer.
However, most PLAN fighters and former SPYL members were barred from benefits as slandered as spies.
Today, both groups remain on the edge denied income and work.
The criteria for conciliation, benefits and the coveted War Hero status took contradictory forms: Aupa Indongo a billionaire and known collaborator with South Africa has been anointed as War Hero with street names in Windhoek, police spies and former collaborators are SWAPO parliamentarians: Elton Hoff, a demobilised SWATF is Supreme Court Judge, etcetera, etcetera.
The problem which the soldiers and the PLAN face is that they have no clear programme to counteract the denial of the SWAPO leadership on the following:
Our position is clear as contained in our manifesto. We support the soldiers not only for compensation but as a section of the working class of this country which is being exploited and oppressed.
We will continue to propagate their position as part of our overall programme for the working class to take political power.
WE are launching an ambitious Appeal to members and supporters to raise funds for our work in Southern Africa.
It is there that the global re-awakening of the workers’ socialist movement is most concentrated and advanced, and where material resources are most needed if the movement is to make the progress which it can and should make.
The Workers Revolutionary Party in Namibia has won a position where all oppressed and exploited groups in the country turn to it for help in their struggles.
This is possible because of the party’s thoroughgoing understanding of the role the South-West African People’s Organisation (SWAPO) government plays as a caretaker for imperialism, based on corrupt rule by a narrow tribal leadership imposed in a deal between the Soviet Union and various imperialist powers in the early 1990s. This regime is both a mockery of democracy and a copy-book example of milking public assets in collusion with imperialist financial interests.
The heart of the WRP(N)’s work is among the country’s miners. The Party’s leadership has worked closely over many years with the TCL miners in their campaign to get back the pensions stolen from them when the company which employed them was liquidated. It has united with the most advanced leaders of the current mine-workers with the aim of making their union (Mineworkers Union of Namibia – MUN) an effective and class-conscious weapon of the country’s working class. Meanwhile, the WRP collaborates with other present and former miners and smelter workers campaigning to protect their homes threatened by financial chicanery by former mine-owners in cahoots with the government and in pursuing claims against their employers for work-related illnesses.
The WRP(N) also stands four-square with:
Railway workers trying to track down the theft of state property;
Road workers protesting against bullying, malpractice and neglect of health and safety by their foreign employers contracted to develop the country’s road network;
Fishery workers on the Atlantic coast who have been on prolonged strike against diminishing wages, overwork and dangerous conditions. From being the best-paid workers in the country, they have become among the lowest-paid, while government-sponsored corruption lets foreign businesses ransack the rich fisheries around Walvis Bay;
Home-owners defending their homes against collusion between crooked lawyers and financiers who try to dispossess them;
Young people demanding access to homes;
Small farmers protecting their traditional lands against seizure by business interests;
Ethnic groups who suffered under German colonial rule seeking access to the compensation pocketed by SWAPO ministers;
Bushmen too now have a WRP(N) member among their leaders.
Former soldiers seeking access to their pensions, also stolen by SWAPO ministers;
Former Peoples Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) fighters seeking acknowledgment of and compensation for the deaths and other sufferings inflicted on them by the SWAPO leaders during liberation.
The WRP(N) won two parliamentary seats in the 2014 elections, but is denied the official resources which should accompany this electoral success. The party has had to spend a good deal of time fighting off a state-inspired sham “breakaway” which seriously impeded its work.
Nevertheless it held a very successful second congress in 2015 and is now developing a network of branches and conducting a serious programme of theoretical education in Marxism for the new forces coming into the leadership of the Party.
And the WRP is now in touch with the United Front established by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and is preparing to collaborate in its work.
A decisive political break in South Africa
NUMSA launched the United Front initiative in connection with the decisive break with Stalinism in which it is engaged. NUMSA has correctly declared the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the ruling African National Congress (ANC) to be bourgeois parties and called for a Movement for Socialism to build a Marxist workers’ party.
What they have established is a genuine United Front bringing community groups together with trade unions led by the working class. Its purpose is to stand up for real working class communities in the context of extreme inequality, exploitation of workers, unemployment (especially among young people) and mass poverty.
NUMSA’s aim in building the United Front (and a Marxist workers’ party) is to transform the National Democratic Revolution of 1994 (which left the working class out of the picture and maintained the imperialist exploitation of South Africa intact) into a socialist revolution led by the working class.
The United Front has appealed directly to Workers International to Rebuild the Fourth International for political, practical and material assistance in standing United Front candidates in South Africa’s local elections on 3 August.
We are sure these developments inspire and encourage our sympathisers and supporters as they do us. We have a target of £5,000 and very little time. Please give generously.
How you can donate
1. Use the button on the top right hand corner of the workersinternational.info home page marked ‘donate’, making clear that your donation is for the Southern Africa Appeal.
2. To transfer from your bank account, send donations to:
Unity trust Bank
Account: The Correspondence Society
sort: 60 – 83 – 01
3. Send cheques made out to Correspondence and marked on the back “Southern Africa Appeal” to : PO Box 68375, London , E7 7DT, UK.
Yours in solidarity,