SocialismToday           Socialist Party magazine

Issue 177 April 2014

South Africa: WASP gets set for the elections

The Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) has registered for the elections to the national assembly and for the provincial legislatures of North West, Limpopo and Gauteng. The national candidate list was made public at a press conference in Johannesburg on 13 March.

The presidential candidate and number one on WASP’s national list for the 2014 elections is Moses Mayekiso. Moses was a leading trade union activist in the 1970s and 1980s for the Metal and Allied Workers Union (Mawu) of which he became general secretary. Mawu, along with other unions, founded the Congress of South African Trade Unions in 1985 and was a key founding union of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa).

In 1987, Moses became the first general secretary of the newly created Numsa, elected from jail, where he had been imprisoned for his labour movement activism and anti-apartheid activities. Moses was the hero of an international campaign demanding his release, and demonstrations to ‘free Comrade Moss’ were held in cities around the world. He was the general secretary of Numsa when the union in 1993 adopted a resolution calling for the formation of a workers’ party. In joining WASP and taking his place in the leadership, Moses is retying the knot of history.

Moses was the first president of the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco – the ‘fourth member’ of the Tripartite Alliance). He has spent recent years working to re-found that movement on genuine socialist principles, as the Congress of South African Non-racial Community Movements, prompted by the abject failure of Sanco to lead the rising tide of service delivery protests. Moses was an ANC MP (1994-96) but resigned to focus on the crucial grassroots work of building Sanco in the aftermath of the fall of apartheid and the urgent task of rebuilding communities.

All the candidates on WASP’s lists are workers, trade unionists and community and youth activists: the best people to represent the working class are working-class people themselves. WASP rejects the ‘professionalization’ of politics that takes the view that ordinary people do not have the competence or abilities to assume elected office.

Leading candidates who spoke at the press conference include: Mametlwe Sebei, a key figure in the post-Marikana strike wave August-September 2012; Weizmann Hamilton, general secretary of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM – CWI in South Africa), one of the founding organisations of WASP, and a long-time anti-apartheid and trade union activist; Liver Mngomezulu, deputy general secretary of the National Transport Movement union; Matron Mhlanga, Joburg street trader and executive member of African Traders Organisation; Sithembile Nqulo, a mineworker in Carletonville; Lebogang Mtsweni, a Numsa activist (personal capacity); Jabulani Madlala, a Numsa activist at the Toyota factory, Durban (personal capacity); Paul Gaaje, an emergency services worker in Fochville; and Nkosinathi Mpopo, a mineworker in Rustenburg.

The basic salary of MPs in South Africa is R72,000 per month (£4,040), meaning that MPs are removed from the day-to-day worries of working-class and poor people. They are among the best paid people in the entire country and part of a small elite. WASP entirely rejects this privileged position for so-called ‘representatives’ of the people.

All WASP MPs and MPLs will take no more than the average wage of a skilled worker. The additional salary will be ploughed back into building WASP and supporting struggles of workers, communities and youth. The salary and all expenses of WASP MPs and MPLs will be available for scrutiny by all South African citizens. WASP will make real use of the ability to remove sitting MPs and MPLs from their positions if they become corrupt or do not fully stand by the manifesto of the party. This right of recall will be vested not only in the leadership of WASP, but in the membership of WASP and all WASP affiliates.

DSM reporters

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