The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa has announced that it is preparing to launch a new political organisation aimed at dealing with the issues of a united working class. The announcement was made by NUMSA General Secretary, Irvin Jim in front of journalists in Johannesburg on Sunday.
South Africa already has more than 100 political organisations and it is not yet clear if this new political party will be established in time for the elections on 7 May 2014. Jim said that the party will be called the United Front and Movement for Socialism. He explained: “We need to organise ourselves as a class which is why we need a movement that will contest the elections at the appropriate time.”
NUMSA has over 340 000 members and intends to start holding consultative meetings in order to strengthen and lay out the foundation for the new political organisation. Irvin Jim confirmed that the plans for the launch of the United Front and Movement for Socialism were put in motion during the union’s January Marxist-Leninist Political School. NUMSA met with leaders of various social movements and community structures to discuss practical and progressive ways to work together.
In the past year, South African voters have had more than 20 new political parties added to their spread of ballot paper options. These include newsmakers such as Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters, Mamphela Ramphele’s AgangSA and the Patriotic Alliance led by ex-convicts turned businessmen Gayton McKenzie and Kenny Kunene. The Lekgotla for Democracy Advancement, the Nationalist Coloured Party, Poelano Revelation Party and Security Workers Political Party did not make a grand entry into the political arena as they are still lesser-known organisations.
Jim elaborated that the liberation movement’s failure to lead a process to effectively resolve national, class and gender issues was the inspiration for the formation of the United Front and Movement for Socialism. He said: “All economic policies since 1994 have been incapable of defeating colonialism of a special type and the effects of apartheid capitalism, which condemned the South African black working class to a life of misery and hardship.”
Irvin Jim also pointed out that 25 million out of 26 million South Africans living in poverty were black. It remains to be seen how many of these poor South Africans will join members of NUMSA in support of the formation and launch of the United Front and Movement for Solidarity.