South Africans should be enjoying fruits of the freedom charter

NO MORE APATHY: Irvin Jim emphasisied the importance of meeting the demands of the freedom for equality and democracy. Photo:TJ Lemon

NO MORE APATHY: Irvin Jim emphasisied the importance of meeting the demands of the freedom for equality and democracy.
Photo: TJ Lemon

By Rofhiwa Madzena and Lameez Omarjee

The exploitation of the working class by “white monopolists” is the reason why South Africans will not fully enjoy the benefits of the Freedom Charter, said keynote speaker, Irvin Jim, at the Ruth First Memorial lecture in the Great Hall tonight.

Jim, the National Union of Mineworkers of South Africa General Secretary, spoke about the life and work of Ruth First, arguing that she sacrificed her life for a just and equal society.

He said: “We live in a safer, less threatened environment … For Ruth First, racial and gender oppression and national domination was not acceptable.”

Jim explained that the current socio-economic climate in South Africa contradicted the Freedom Charter which was developed in 1955 by the ANC ( African National Congress’). “… We are apathetic about the sufferings of millions of South Africans,” he said.

Jim said: “Ruth First was killed for our Freedom Charter. It is not irrelevant. She paid the highest price. We must feel her suffering, fear, the terror she faced throughout her adult life.”

Ebrahim Fakir, the 2014 Ruth First Fellow,also presented his research findings on political protest and political participation at the lecture. 

He spoke about “democracy, delivery and discontent”. He said there are close to 300 protests a year in South Africa, which indicates the remaining inequalities in our democracy.

Fakir based his research on the conditions in the Bekkersdal municipality, South-West Gauteng.  “Bekkersdal, is a microcosm of what is happening in townships across South Africa,” he said.  “I found a disaster and dystopia in Bekkersdal”.

Academics, students from Ruth First’s former high school (Jeppe High School for Girls) and others came together in honour of Ruth First at the annuam lecture hosted by the Wits University Journalism Department at the Great Hall.

“Ruth First was assassinated for her belief in the struggle for just, democratic, socialist, non-racial SA.”

To read Ebrahim Fakir’s full address, FinalRuthFirstLecture2014.EF

To read Irvin Jim’s full address, Irvin_Jim


Cosatu under attack, who’s next?

Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), gave his lawyers instruction to challenge the CEC’s (Central Executive Committee), decision to place him on special leave after he was found guilty of having improper relations with a junior Cosatu employee.

Vavi claims that Sdumo Dlamini, Cosatu president, handed an intelligence report to the CEC members to discredit him and force him out of Cosatu. Dlamini has denied the allegations.

The report claims that Vavi and other prominent members of South Africa want to overthrow the government of South Africa.

National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) general secretary Irvin Jim said they have lost all confidence in Sdumo Dlamini and that there was a concerted effort by forces within and outside Cosatu to turn it from being a fighting Federation to a “toothless”, “labour desk” organisation.

Numsa said there was a “political conspiracy” to discredit Vavi and that state organs were being abused to spy on Vavi,

Numsa “worried” about Cosatu credibility

Vavi OUT, who's next?: Irvin Jim tells press conference political "forces" that got Vavi out are now after him and Numsa president Cedric Gina. Irvin Jim (Numsa general secretary) and Karl Cloete (deputy general secretary). Photo: Thuletho Zwane

Vavi OUT, who’s next?: Irvin Jim tells press conference political “forces” that got Vavi out are now after him and Numsa president Cedric Gina.                                                                              Photo: Thuletho Zwane

Irvin Jim, general secretary of National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), said there was a political conspiracy to get rid of Zwelinzima Vavi.

“We are of the view that it has become very clear that there is a programme that Zweli’s head must be chopped,” said Jim. He said there were forces within the ANC and the South African Communist Party (SACP) and other sections of Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) that weren’t interested in matters of the working class and the poor.

Jim said these forces of capitalism wanted to ensure Cosatu embraced the neo-liberal National Development Plan (NDP) reducing Cosatu into a “labour desk of the bourgeoisie”.

Ideological battle between the ANC, Cosatu and Numsa

He said Vavi has become a target of the ANC because he wanted Cosatu to implement the Freedom Charter and has spoken out against the implementation of the NDP.“There is double speak [within the ruling party]. Speaking left but walking right. Vavi has consistently put forward the issues of the working class and the poor,” he said.

Cosatu’s credibility questioned

Jim said Numsa was worried about the credibility of Cosatu. “We are very worried about the leadership of the federation.[pullquote] there is a programme that Zweli’s head must be chopped[/pullquote] We have lost confidence in comrade Sidumo Dlamini,” he said. He added that Numsa members were “up in arms” about Vavi’s suspension. He told the press they are certain state apparatus and state institutions were centrally involved and used to get rid of proponents of radical thought.

Allegations of political conspiracy

Jim refused to provide evidence of a conspiracy but said everything would unfold in due time. “I am refusing to speak on this thing. I know what has not being reported. When I send an sms, it has been intersected. We thought it was a small thing, we know now it is not a small thing,” he said.

Numsa has rejected the decision of the central executive committee (CEC) to place Vavi on special leave pending investigation and is consulting with their lawyers to over-turn the decision.


Related articles

Wits Vuvuzela. Vavi: It’s a conspiracy, August 16, 2013