23 January 2013

Dear Comrades,

South Africa is rotten ripe for an alternative. Locally and internationally capitalism is in a severe and protracted crisis that is not showing signs of recovery.  Like their counterparts internationally, workers here have shown their willingness to struggle against the consequences that the crisis is wreaking on livelihoods as seen in the recent strike wave on the mines and the in the ongoing struggles throughout the country since and before the Marikana massacre. For us as socialists, the task of contributing towards the working class rising to the task of ending this system is a race against time. The uniting of the working class struggles in new mass organisations that can serve as our weapons in the battles to come is a life-and-death question – if the working class fails to give a lead, it will open the door for reactionary forces like the xenophobic killings in 2008 demonstrated.

The Democratic Socialist Movement together with several mineworkers’ strike committees took the initiative to get this process going by founding the Workers and Socialist Party on December 15, 2012. We are writing to your organisation to invite you to work with us in developing the Workers and Socialist Party manifesto, programme, principles, structures and campaigns. We envisage the WASP as a vehicle for forging working class unity; a broad, federal structure in which each member organisation would retain its independent identity. We believe that your participation in this project is very important and hope that you will take up this call to engage and contribute, starting with a joint meeting we propose for January 26 (see below for more details).

We aim to launch this new party of workers and working class communities on Sharpeville Day (March 21) this year. Our campaign plans include a series of rallies, a drive to collect one million names in support of the party and a campaign to recall councillors who do not deliver on their mandate.

The Workers and Socialist Party will be based on a programme to unite workers, working class communities, youth and students in struggle to combat the poverty wages, sub-human working conditions, mass unemployment, the failure to provide even the most basic housing and services, from water and electricity to health and education – all the suffering that is the reality of this capitalist system. The working class can only defend itself against the capitalist attacks through struggle – in SA we have been forced to fight at a rate of three protests per day in the past three years. But only a socialist transformation of society – taking over the commanding heights of the economy,  e.g. the mines, the banks, the land and the factories, under the collective ownership and management of workers and communities, democratic planning of production and development on an international basis – can in the end decide these battles in favour of the working class. The ANC government’s massacre on striking workers in Marikana in defence of the bosses’ economic dictatorship over society has showed millions that it is time for an alternative. All that the ANC and all other parties in parliament have to offer us increasingly brutal ways of holding us down to protect the bosses’ interests. Worldwide, a capitalist future means no future at all for the vast majority.

We want the Workers and Socialist Party to bring together all the forces of the ongoing struggles in the workplaces, communities and institutions of learning, in united nation-wide coordinated action. Also the Workers and Socialist Party should campaign on a socialist programme to contest the national election in 2014. For us, participating in the elections, in councils and parliament, will be an important terrain of struggle which must link to and strengthen the key struggles that take place outside these institutions. The Workers and Socialist Party will differ from all other parties through its socialist programme of struggle, and through its principles of leadership rotation, of subjecting all its elected representatives to the right of immediate recall, and of accepting none of the privileges that today’s politicians are bathing in – a workers’ representative on a workers wage! The battle to expose corruption will be one of its most important tasks.

We are urging organisations, unions and social movements to discuss and adopt the resolution, attached, as part of building support for and participating in the formation of the Workers and Socialist Party. Developments in SA and the rest of the world are relentlessly bringing us towards decisive upheavals. The ruling class, with all the powers at its disposal, is preparing for battle. The present contest between revolution and bloody counter-revolution in Tunisia and Egypt is an image of the near future for the world. In SA, at the mines’ frontline of class struggles, Harmony Gold and Amplats have launched the first attacks in a ruling class offensive to attempt to press workers back into a political and mental jail. We do not have the luxury of time but have to act now to start preparing the forces of the working class. We look forward to democratic and comradely engagement with your organisation as we move from words to action in response to the challenges before us.

Please join us in a meeting to discuss the way forward in building a genuine working class voice on Saturday January 26, at 11h00, Johannesburg (venue to be confirmed telephonically).


Mametlwe Sebei and Liv Shange

Democratic Socialist Movement