South Africa Zuma's State of the Nation Address - the Myth of Social Partners

posted 10 Feb 2011, 14:57 by Admin uk   [ updated 1 Mar 2011, 07:17 ]

by David Van Wyk on Thursday, 10 February 2011 

Class conflict cannot be mediated. Nedlac is an attempt by the bourgeois state to blunt the class struggle in South Africa by creating the facade of cooperation between classes in an intensely unequal society. South Africa has the biggest gap between rich and poor people in the world. When the economy went into crisis the then denialist Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel denied the crisis for as long as he could so as to avoid remedial action, as a reult the country lost more than a million jobs in a short space of time. In the recovery that followed these jobs were never recovered and the economy reverted to jobless growth which means it reverted to the same situation that it was in before the crisis, minus the jobs.    

 

The swelling of the ranks of the reserve army of labour (the lumpen-proletariat) has increased the pressure on those with jobs as it has increased the levels of economic dependency on the working population. It has also weakened the bargaining power of the working class as the threat of increased unemployment, and the very existence of this huge reserve army of unemployed is used to blackmail and 'discipline the employed. Worse, the bourgeois media is blaming the employed and unionised workers for the unemployment in the country. This is an attempt to ratchet up the tension between organised workers and the unorganised unemployed and to divert attention from the super profits the capitalist class is making in South Africa. Angloplat for example boasts that 'headline earnings per share rose more than sixfold to 1935c in the year to end-December, from 289c a year earlier.'    

 

No wonder the CEO of Anglo can boldly proclaim against nationalisation and in favour of expanding operations. They know, and Zuma's address confirms this, that the old guard in the ANC will never kill the 'goose that lays the golden egg' in the words of a former Minister of Mining. The old Guard in the ANC are all wealthy shareholders in a booming industry. The same industry which is chasing communities off their land as quickly as the land is restored to them by the Department of Land Affairs. No care that this industry is killing South Africa's rivers and ground water. No care that this industry is poisoning our agricultural land and threatening our future water and food security. No care that this industry due to its peculiar history is keeping the country locked into a low wage, high unemployment trap. No care that this industry is preventing economic diversification and is the main reason why Asian countries who were far behind South Africa in terms of industrial development in the 1950s are today light years ahead of us.

 

Mr Zuma speaks of allocating R40 billion towards job creation. Will this R40 billion land in the pockets of the tenderpreneurs, in the pockets of cousins, grandsons and nephews instead of in the pockets of workers nows proudly employed.

 

Nothing in Mr Zuma's speech addresses the expansion of the productive capacity of the economy. We only have to drive through the industrial areas of our major cities to see the empty buildings the inoperational factories, the underutilised capacity. We only have to enter any township, or Yeoville or Hillbrow to see the wasted human resource capacity of this country - the millions of unemployed workers to realise that any claim of real economic growth is false. Economic growth only occurs when all unutilised economic capacity is fully utilised, and then new capacity, new factories, new farms, new economic activity is added. However when a former Bophuthatswana statistician is heading Stats SA any miracle is possible.

 

Mr Zuma boldly states that betwen 2010 and 2014 there will be hundreds of conferences and meetings in South Africa including that of the International Olympics committee and that this will translate into jobs in the tourism sector. Again this is adding nothing to the productive capacity of the country. No doubt the tourism sector growth will see a rapid increase in sex work, the drugs trade and alcohol and substance abuse. Fanon correctly refers to this neo-colonial obsession with prestige events and tourism as the prostitution of the national economy.

 

Instead of speaking about solving the housing crisis by means of state intervention on behalf of the homeless Mr Zuma takes the bankrupt banking based housing policies of Joe Slovo a step further. Where Joe Slovo handed RDP housing over to the banking sector, thereby emasculating the working class from class actions such as strikes because they would lose their RDP matchboxes if the missed bond repayments, Mr Zuma proposes rental accommodation for the transient semirural working class. Large parts of the working class is trapped into migrant labour, thanks to the mining industry which now gives its migrants a living out allowance and pretends that it no longer employs migrants. Having migrant workers rent accomodation makes it easier to evict them when they are retrenched during economic downturns. It also creates the possibility of growing a rentier capitalist class among the black elite. Thus strengthening the National Party ANC programme of building a black middle class as a buffer against socialist revolution!

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