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Press statement by the Rössing Nine

Press statement by the Rössing Nine

Comradely greetings to all our comrades, workers, brothers and sisters around the world.

Rössing Uranium Ltd has been producing and exporting uranium oxide from Namibia to nuclear power utilities around the world since its inception in 1976 and the union movement got into focus, so much so that the struggle spilled back from South Africa back into Namibia. In 1978 the labour movement (union) was born at Rössing Uranium Mine when the oppressors tried to brutally suppress but did not succeed and they jailed the leaders under Administrative General (AG) proclamation 26.

The repression continued but failed to suppress the rising working-class movement. In 1984 the workers won the rights to organise the union movement and register trade unions. The culmination of those rights were contained in the 1992 Labour Act (Legislation), the pinnacle of labour rights in Namibia. The problem is while as the Namibian working class succeeded in winning these significant union and labour rights as was enshrined in the 1992 Labour Act and the 1990 Democratic Constitution of Namibia, the multinational corporation came down with a vengeance to nullify the unions and labour rights in its entirety.

The mechanisms used against the union movement and working-class rights were among others: privatisation, Labour judicial corruption, the return of the labour-hire through outsourcing, formalisation of labour-hire companies, etc. One of the reasons which facilitated the derogation of rights was the co-option of working-class leaderships into state structures. Endemic corruption furthered the historic weakness in the struggle of the working class in that it failed to create a working-class leadership in its own name and for its own interest.

The historic significance of this struggle is that it pointed the workers to the end-goal by showing everyone the indispensability and the power of the working class, through the 1971 to 1972 general strike that brought the entire nation to a standstill and inspired the South African working class to rise up since 1973 until South Africa overthrew Apartheid in 1994,

The Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) was formalised in 1986. The Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) Rössing branch signed the first ever recognition agreement in Namibia on the 14thNovember 1988 that governs the relationship between the Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) and Rössing Uranium Ltd., which is still in existence to date.

Under Rio Tinto as a majority shareholder in Rössing Uranium Ltd., as employees we were part of the greater Rio Tinto and labour relations were based on the existing laws. Although we had our difference, we still mutually coexisted and the Rio Tinto respected and complied with legislation, the internal policies and agreements. Rio Tinto understood the role of the union with regards to the Supreme Law of Namibia and Labour Act 11 of 2007.

This all started to change when Rio Tinto sold all its shares in Rössing Uranium Ltd. to China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) in July 2019. The CNNC management used every opportunity to suppress and threaten union rights by demanding to renegotiate among others the following agreements to less favourable agreements:

  1. Procedural (Recognition) Agreement of 14 November 1988
  2. Performance and Conduct Procedure (Disciplinary Code)
  3. Recruitment Policy
  4. Retrenchment Package Agreement
  5. 5 Conditions of employment
  • Leave Days
  • Sick Leave days
  • Commutation system
  1. Salary scales and structures
  2. Medical Aid Provider

Their renegotiation attempts failed and this culminated in grave attacks on the Branch Executive Committee. Among the attacks are the exclusive unprocedural correspondences between the General secretary of MUN (Eben Zarondo) in which the Chinese General Manager instructed him to discipline the Branch Executive Committee, and when he failed to find any grounds or faults, CNNC Rössing Uranium Ltd. took the matter in their hands by unlawfully and illegally dismissing the Branch Executive Committee.

Between July and September 202, the management unlawfully and illegally suspended, charged and dismissed the Nine Executive Committee Members in their individual employment positions on witch-hunt and unfounded allegations against MUN (Mineworkers Union of Namibia) of allegedly leaking confidential information about the illegal employment of the 4 Chinese nationals in management to the media, breaching employment contracts, bringing the company’s name into disrepute and dishonesty.

The illegal and unlawful employment of the Chinese was exposed by the media to the nation, drawing the attention of immigration control officers to investigate, arrest and detain them and a police case number CR08/08/2020 was registered upon the full establishment that they were indeed illegal and unlawfully working for CNNC Rössing Uranium Limited and for violating the Namibia Immigration Control Act.

The illegal and unlawful employees were then transferred to Narraville Police Station to be held in custody and to be brought before court for prosecution. However, close to midnight that very day, an awful and disgraceful act happened in that, the accused were jail-broken on an instruction from some high-ranking government official. These instructions were illegal and unlawful, as the officials that dispensed the instructions are not part of the justice system, neither are they from the office of the Prosecutor General or the Police and no document or police bail was processed for their release, only instructions from above.

For the mine to dismiss an organ of the union is a compete renunciation of the laws of Namibia. What will be the full social, economic and political implication of this? It will mean that Namibia is not a sovereign state, there is no rule of law, and legal entities in Namibia are without any legal protection.

MUN Rössing Branch is the foundation and torch-bearer of the union movement in Namibia. These attacks on the union movement as expressed in the Chinese National Nuclear Corporation Rössing Uranium Limited situation echoes the capitalist attack on the union movement around the country and around the world.

As leaders of the workers’ movement (union), we will defend the fundamental rights which Namibian workers have fought for more than a century and won,

The sad situation informs the way forward and the basic element of the program is as follows:

  • The rebuilding and training of the working-class basic organisations and structures of the union, both national and international
  • The rebuilding of national and international solidarity as the means of achieving such workers’ organisations
  • The rebuilding and r-affirming of the working-class movements for political power nationally and internationally t avert the onslaught on the rights of workers.

The role of imperialism today as reflected in the Rössing example is to destroy fundamental rights and derogate social, economic and political relations and in particular the proper relations brought to bear on the working class worldwide.

We firmly believe that the only outstanding matter to resolve this increasingly destructive situation is the crisis of leadership in the working-class movement. We dedicate ourselves to work to resolve that crisis by building such a leadership nationally and internationally.

We thank our brothers and sisters who stand in solidarity; the Rössing Uranium Ltd. employees, MUN Walvisbay Salt Refinery, Namibia United Fishermen Association, AR movement, individuals and we further extend gratitude to our brothers and sisters internationally from the USA, UK, Brazil, Japan, Greece, Australia, Argentina and many others.

Your solidarity actions national and around the world is already a major step in realizing our program of action and change.

In solidarity

Injury to one is injury to all

The Struggle Continues

The Nine Dismissed Union Leaders

Belarus: Free union leaders and activists

In the last couple of months, Belarus has experienced rigged elections, mass protests, and severe violence carried out by the security forces.

Union leaders, members of the Belarusian Independent Trade Union (BITU), have been arrested and imprisoned for participating in protests and strike action.

Belarus: Free union leaders and activists.

At the center of these events is the JSC Belaruskali potash fertilizer site.  Dozens of activists and strike committee members at Belaruskali have been prosecuted, threatened, fined and deprived of benefits at work for their activities. BITU vice chair Siarhei Charkasau and three of his comrades, Pavel Puchenia, Yury Korzun and Anatol Bokun are in prison now. One sentence has followed the other while they were still serving their sentence.

BITU and IndustriALL are demanding an end to the persecution of employees of Belaruskali for their participation in the strike, and also those who continue to “work to rule” at Belaruskali. They are demanding an immediate release of the BITU leader and jailed activists.

Please take a moment to support the online campaign – click here.

And please share this message with your friends, family and fellow union members.

Eric Lee

Political training in South Africa under “lockdown”

SOCIALIST REVOLUTIONARY WORKERS PARTY

We are born of class struggle, in the fight to demolish the capitalist system that insists on the continued exploitation of most of society by a few humans. We seek to educate, agitate, mobilise and organize the working class into our political organisation.

The working class must fulfil our historic mission: to defeat imperialism and capitalism, establish a Socialist South Africa, Africa and World, as a prelude to advancing to a truly free and classless society: to a Communist South Africa, Africa and World!”  (SRWP homepage)

It turns out that political organising and education can take place a lot more effectively than some comrades feared online, even during “lockdown” when physical gatherings of any size are impossible within the state’s arrangements for dealing with Covid-19. Some of the resources which have assisted imperialism to step up exploitation across the globe, such as computer technology and modern communications, are also tools in the hands of the workers’ movement.

At time of writing, the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party of South Africa (SRWP) has just contributed to members’ political education online with two talks on Marx and the early beginnings of capitalism by SRWP Deputy General Secretary Dr. Vashna Jagarnath and a session with Vijay Prashad of Transcontinental: Institute for Social Research and Chief Editor of LeftWord Books.

Vijay Prashad’s contribution on “CoronaShock & Imperialism” on 23 April 2020 is the one I would like to discuss here. It can be viewed on the SRWP Facebook page, so I urge the reader to do that, and I will make no systematic attempt to summarise his contribution here. It contained a number of important and useful observations.

Although Vijay Prashad only makes a couple of passing references to the Corvid-19 pandemic, he does lay out succinctly an analysis and a conception of present-day imperialism. Unfortunately, very informative though this presentation is, it does not shed light on how and why, in the course of the political struggle between the working class and the bourgeoisie at an international level for more than a century now, we got to the point which society has reached today. Vijay Prashad merely lists as objective facts the changes in features such as technology, communications and banking and finance which facilitate the current form of imperialist plunder. Nor does his presentation refer to or illuminate the aims of the SRWP stated above: “our historic mission – to defeat imperialism and capitalism, establish a socialist South Africa and World”, etc.

His references to the class struggle are all about forms of it which can be contained within the framework of existing bourgeois society. These are either trade union struggles over the extraction of surplus value in the form of “unpaid labour time”, or the politics of pressure on the bourgeois state to set limits on the rapacity of the bourgeoisie, provide welfare and other essential services, and so forth. These have been historically very significant ways in which the class struggle between bourgeoisie and proletariat has been waged, and indeed continue to be so. However, it has always been the understanding of Marxists that the culmination of this struggle must be what is expressed in the aims of SRWP set out at the head of this article. Continue reading

Comments on some contributions to a discussion on the significance of the Coronavirus pandemic and the way forward

Comments have been requested on a number of texts (see below Ed.) which have arisen in left-wing, socialist and Marxist circles in response to the Coronavirus crisis and the background of chronic economic and environmental crisis. 

Both Cde Shaheen Khan in South Africa and the “Public Reading Rooms” comrades in the UK make a number of serious analytical points in describing the current situation. Shaheen (1) writes: The capitalist system is in deep crisis and the rule of the capitalist class on a global scale is in jeopardy”.  No Going Back describes the coronavirus crisis and the feeble economic recovery from the 2008 banking crisis as arising from “the structural limits of the entire system of social reproduction”. (This latter document also adds that “The wanton destruction of nature by capital creates the perfect conditions for the emergence and spread of pandemics”). All three documents present proposals for a fresh impulse from the socialist movement and the working class to respond to these accumulating crises.

Both Shaheen and No Going Back emphasise the international and systemic character of the crisis. “As the pandemic spreads across the globe, the global health emergency is rapidly evolving into a crisis of the entire existing world social order”, says Shaheen (1). “The pandemic is global; it cannot be stopped in one country” says No Going Back. 

This is why Shaheen (1) says: “The task in the days, weeks and months ahead is to build a conscious socialist leadership throughout the world”. (This assertion is missing for some reason in Shaheen [2]). No Going Back calls for “The convocation of a Zimmerwald conference – which united the anti-war left in 1915 – for our times, to unify all those prepared to fight for a fundamental change in society; who understand the necessity of renewing the left’s strategic and theoretical framework as well as going beyond its existing organisational forms.”

All three documents lay great stress upon the activity and consciousness of the working class. In “Our Perspectives and Tasks” Shaheen Khan states “The working class is not taking this lying down … these are the molecular processes where the class is gradually beginning to comprehend the problems arising from the social crisis. Consciousness is determined by conditions”. He then takes the thought further: “A revolutionary party bases its tactics on a calculation of the changes of mass consciousness. While the party must impress through its propaganda and agitation … the dangers of the epidemic and the need for physical distancing we must begin to take leadership of the mass protest movement that is gaining momentum. The working class on its own is fighting and breaking down the parameters of the bourgeois lockdown and we need to direct this anger in the right direction and in the right quarters”. Both of Comrade Shaheen’s documents contain sets of proposals for a programme of action to bring this about. Continue reading

A powerful manifesto and a serious appeal

As the Workers Revolutionary Party of Namibia submits the Manifesto reproduced below to voters in the 2019 National Assembly Elections, reports flood in from around the globe of movements by the masses in Iraq, Lebanon, Chile and elsewhere in direct and open opposition to poverty and exploitation and the corruption and economic mis-management of their ‘own’ venal governments acting as the local agents of imperialist powers and interests.

They follow on from the events of the “Arab Spring” earlier in the decade and the more recent echoes of these movements in Tunisia and Sudan.

These movements are impressive in their scope and energy and their ability, especially since in Iraq and Lebanon they unite sectors of the population hitherto separated by religious and ethnic affiliations. 

Powerful as they are, however, all these movements are hampered by the lack of a political programme and of a well-thought-out strategy to alleviate the suffering expressed in their simple and compelling demands. 

In a few boldly-drawn paragraphs, the Namibian WRP Manifesto sketches out the main lines of that programme and underscores the rightly central role which the working class is called upon to play within such movements, how it links to other parts of the masses and what targets it can set itself to ensure future progress.

Workers International to Rebuild the Fourth International is extremely proud to submit the Manifesto to the consideration of serious socialists everywhere. Our comrades in Namibia have established significant roots among mineworkers, fishery workers, pensioners, homeowners and tenants and more

The Namibia WRP are experiencing a wave of media and other public interest in their Manifesto. They need resources to spread it far and wide. Workers International will provide whatever support it can so that they can send material, speakers and organisers the length and breadth of the country in the election campaign. Please help us:
account details:
The Correspondence Society
acc no: 20059400
sort: 60 83 01
payments from outside UK would need IBAN number:
GB93NWBK60023571418024

THE CONTEXT OF THE 2019 NATIONAL ELECTIONS

Namibia is an example of a Comprador State. In a political context the word “comprador” is used to describe an agent having control over a nation’s workforce by acting on behalf of foreign masters. In Namibia it means the Namibian government having control over the working people on behalf of foreign and capitalist masters.

Using law enforcement agencies, the care-taker regime since 1990 has systematically destroyed the legal rights and gains of the working class through legislation and corruption. At the behest and in favour of corporate business, these agencies, which include the Office of the Labour Commissioner and the Courts of Law, disregard the laws concerning the rights of workers. 

The State is destroying the nation’s infrastructure (roads, hospitals and schools) by a lack of maintenance and brazen theft. Our education system is proof thereof. The adage “education is the greatest equalizer” remains out of reach for the masses, where enrolment in private schools is reserved for children of the middle class and the children of the working class and the poor (peasants) receive sub-standard ‘location’ education.

The State’s express policy on the land issue is “no land to the poor”. The plight of those who lost their land to imperialists is not addressed by the care-taker regime. On the contrary, the state further disowned the impoverished communities by seizing their remaining snippets of land.

The judiciary is subservient to the same masters, foreign and local corporate business; banks, industries and capitalists. It destroys the rule of law.

The modus operandi of the imperialists and international corporations in conjunction with the State is to exploit the workers by means of low wages, hazardous work conditions and the blatant disregard of labour laws. This practise is common in southern Africa.

The imperialists and capitalists have a vested interest in our presidential and national assembly elections. Our elections are a farce. It is run and controlled by the Indian Army and nullified our sovereignty. Both the registration of voters and voting by the electronic machines are a mockery. Voter registrations are duplicated. Voters can cast their votes multiple times. 

Since independence these farcical elections are approved by the USA, EU, AU, SADEC and the IEC as “free and fair” in the name of ‘political continuity’ to serve their interests and to ensure the unbridled exploitation of the colonies. 

Under the Comprador State, Namibia as a whole is disintegrating by the day. The prospects for the nation are a continuously lowering material and cultural standard of living. The vast resources of fish, minerals (strategic and precious), oil and gas reserves, and the most essential resource, the land of the people, are corruptly sold to foreign masters.

The State, bankrupted by rampant looting of the Treasury, is further intensifying its insolvency by turning the country into a tax haven for money launderers. Industries operating in Namibia are registered for tax purposes elsewhere, where they pay no taxes in any event. 

There is no HOPE, only DESPERATION unless the programme of the workers’ party is realised. 

PROGRAMME

The only force which can turn the economic and human wastage around is the organised working class.

The WRP as the vanguard of that organisation is participating in the 2019 National Elections for no other reason, but to throw light on the main issues wracking this nation and the Southern African working people and to propagate its proposals to achieve working class organisation to fight the scourge.

It harbours no illusions about the mockery of elections which will once more yield results contrived by the Indian State in collusion with the Namibian State. 

ISSUES

1.Plundering of natural resources

Namibia’s coastline is unguarded. This allows for unlimited exploitation of marine resources. Also, this resource is sold to imperialist countries (South Africa and Spain) by the State on behalf of individuals.

2.The land question

The majority of Namibians have no access to land. Dispossession is absolute and total. The Comprador State has gone as far as legislating the Traditional Authorities Act 25 of 2000, which prohibits communities from owning their land. The so-called traditional authorities have no authority or jurisdiction over land.

The stated policy of the regime is, “no land to the poor”.

3.Labour situation

Legislation, pervasive corruption, non-policies and dysfunctional administration and executive combine to set off unbelievable levels of unemployment with literally hundreds of youth rushing for single job openings. 

The incumbent regime is oblivious of mineral and natural reserves of priceless minerals (strategic and precious) and massive self-generating resources such as marine and other natural resources. The greatest source of life, land, is squandered away in the same manner.

The obscene squandering of all these resources for laughable bribes by national and international capital leaves the nation abused and bewildered. 

PROGRAMME

The WRP uses these elections to articulate its clarion call to the working class to organise at all levels to declare war on the destruction of the nation through the destruction of its sovereignty, its self-determination and its liberation, etc.

The programme of the WRP calls on the working class to rebuild their unions in the fishing, mining sectors and industrial and commercial fields under the guidance of the workers’ party. This rebuilding shall take place in the process of arresting the unadulterated exploitation of the country by such demands as opening the books of corporations from mines to factories, and from banks to insurance companies; a public audit of the resources exploited and taken out of this country; the cessation of the money laundering mechanism put in place by the Comprador regime; the derogation of labour rights through legislation and corruption; and, a national review of the de-education of the youth. 

The WRP programme calls on the working class to organise at all levels to optimise the utility of their resources; the optimum utilisation of these massive resources to create permanent jobs, to demand rational industrialisation demanded by the total human and technical and natural resources at its disposal.

The WRP call on the working class to treat issues affecting women, men, youth, homosexuals, etcetera as issues affecting the working class as a whole and not issues to be separated.

The working class has no interest in the designs of the black and Khoisan middle classes to step into the shoes of the white landowners by laying claim to the lands of the people. Its sole interest is to restore the collective property of the disowned communities which was collectively disowned. The WRP advise the working class and poor peasantry to call for a national land conference to discuss the restoration of legality in the country by restoration of illegally expropriated lands. (The peasants never held individual title, they held collective ownership. Both the black and white middle class baulk at the idea of a historical inquiry into the land issue in Southern Africa.)

ONLY the ORGANISED working class armed with a programme for all the working people of the NATION can take power and lead the country out of extreme backwardness and squalor in the midst of untold wealth. 

ONLY the ORGANISED working class led by a workers’ party can break the suffocation of the nation by imperialism.

WORKERS REVOLUTIONARY PARTY (WRP)

TO REBUILD THE FOURTH INTERNATIONAL

A political party duly registered in terms of the electoral laws of the Republic of Namibia

4479 Dodge Avenue, Khomasdal  P.O. Box 3349 Windhoek

Tel: 061-260647

ericabeukes@yahoo.co.uk

jacobusjosob@ymail.com

Algeria: Release all the political prisoners immediately!

Workers international has endorsed this demand and urges it’s widespread support

Algeria: Release all the political prisoners immediately!

(Hadj Ghermoul,Hadj Brahim AoufLouisa Hanoune and many others)

Since 22 February, millions of Algerians have been demonstrating to demand democracy and sovereignty – a chanting “Regime, Out Now!”

The Algerian regime has responded by unleashing repression against political activists, lawyers, young people and trade unionists.

 In particular, the regime has targeted the following (listed in the order that they were arrested):

  • Hadj Ghermoul, a young activist of the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights and a member of the National Committee for the Defence of the Rights of the Unemployed, who in February was sentenced to six months in prison without parole for holding a sign that read, “No to a Fifth Term!” (for former President Bouteflika).

  • Kameleddine Fekhar, a human rights activist campaigning in defence of the democratic rights of the Mozabite population of the Algerian province of Ghardaïa and a member of the FFS (Socialist Forces Front),was arrested in Ghardaïa in March. On 28 May, Dr Kameleddine Fekhar died in prison after a 56-day hunger strike. Despite his deteriorating health and the many protests demanding his release, the authorities allowed the situation to worsen.

  • Hadj Brahim Aouf,a teacher from Ghardaïa who was arrested along with Dr Fekhar, who is also on a hunger strike and whose life is in danger.

  • Louisa Hanoune, General Secretary of the Workers Party (PT), who was arrested on 9 May and charged with “conspiracy against the State authority and the military authority.”

Many other activists also have been arrested and imprisoned.

We, the undersigned, express our solidarity with the Algerian people and call for the immediate release of all political prisoners!

Endorsement Coupon

NAME

POSITION (for ID purposes only)

UNION/ORGANISATION

The challenge that SRWP launch poses to sectarian propagandists:

Show Us What You’ve Got!

Bob Archer replies on behalf of WIRFI to The Socialist Revolutionary Workers’ Party: A major distraction, by John Appolis.
(available in pamphlet form)

The forthcoming Launch Congress of the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party in South Africa throws down a significant challenge to intellectual Marxists.

Here is an embryo party which assembled over 1,000 activists in a pre-launch congress in December 2018, proclaims that its aim is to lead the fight of the working class against the bourgeoisie and their political allies, and proudly inscribes on its banner adherence to the revolutionary thought of Marx and Lenin.

To show they mean what they say, the forces in the leadership of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), which initiated this work, have spent 5 years systematically preparing the ground to launch this party.

It was the state-sponsored murder of striking miners at Marikana in July 2012 which dramatically laid bare the reality of society and politics in post-apartheid South Africa. Up to that point the alliance of South African Communist Party (SACP), African National Congress (ANC) and Confederation of South African Trades Unions (Cosatu) had justified and dominated a liberation (in the early 1990s) which has worked less and less for the benefit of the South African masses and more and more in the interests of a small group of black bourgeois and global capital. Continue reading

WIRFI Message at Miroslav Vodslon’s funeral, Berlin, December 2018

Mirek was a comrade in the truest sense of the word; a fighter side by side with us for a socialist future for the human race.

He was a convinced and profoundly thoughtful Marxist. His theoretical stature towered above that of others because he was highly intelligent, very thorough and took Marxism very seriously indeed. He was never satisfied with superficial or half-baked formulations of it.

Mirek also possessed a wry, dry and self-deprecating sense of humour which showed deep appreciation of the contradictions that arise in life and which moreover enabled him to reveal defects in another person’s reasoning without massaging his own ego. This is something that we will especially miss.

Mirek came into contact with us UK Trotskyists as a militant of the Group of Opposition and Continuity of the Fourth International (GOCQI), in the late 1980s. Having just dealt with an abusive leadership in the Workers’ Revolutionary Party, we were looking for contacts with activists around the world who had gone through experiences parallel to ours and who had similar ideas to ours about the way ahead.

Comrades like Balazs Nagy, Miroslav, Radoslav Pavlovic and Janos Borovi had paid the price of resisting Stalinist rule in their home countries. They had been forced to leave behind families and comrades and go into exile or face death or imprisonment. Based on their own experiences and difficulties in the Trotskyist movement, they joined with the insurgent Workers Revolutionary Party members and contacts in Namibia, South Africa and Latin America to set up the Workers’ International to Rebuild the Fourth International in 1990.

The GOCQI, including Mirek, quickly showed their theoretical mettle, contributing powerfully to the theoretical publications which prepared for the new foundation. Continue reading