Numsa’s Workers Party: Cuba-Style Socialism In SA

The party of the people has arrived or so say the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party (SRWP). The political arm of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) launched in 2018. They are ready to contest the 2019 National Elections. The Daily Vox team spoke to the party’s acting spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola.

A 2013 special congress showed the union that they had no place within the tripartite alliance says Hlubi-Majola. The alliance, which consists of the African National Congress (ANC), Congress of Trade Unions South Africa (COSATU), and the South Africa Communist Party (SACP). During the congress, the union said the ruling ANC was a ‘political vacuum.’ In 2014 Cosatu expelled Numsa.

“We have ceded and given up our power to the governing party – the ANC and the elites – and they are driving agendas which are not in our interest. It’s very tragic that the ANC has diverted from what the majority wanted to [start] pursuing an agenda in the interest of capital and white monopoly capital,” she says.

Hlubi-Majola says Numsa as early as 2007 spoke about the fact that the working class must organise itself and the working class must have its own political party. “The birth of the SRWP is just Numsa is enacting a resolution. The SRWP is a working class party. Numsa gave birth to it but it is a party for all,” she says.

The Land

Hlubi-Majola says a change in the ideology of the government would lead to a rapid solution to the land question. “With the land question debate if this was a government formed in the interest of the working class we wouldn’t have to have a debate about the land,” she says. The SWRP’s land policy is that all people especially the working class must own the land. “But because this is not a government that is operating in the interests of the majority everything including the constitution and judicial system has been created for the benefit of the wealthy,” she says.

The Youth

The youth are often neglected except when it comes to election-year says Hlubi-Majola. She says the youth are able to recognise contradictions in the system. “Young people are always the first to recognise contradictions – look at Fees Must Fall: young people led that entire movement and, June 16, 1976, and the role young people played there. This is why if you are are a political formation and you are not working with young people you have no future,” she says.

SRWP are still in the early days of political party formation but they are trying to get more youth participation during their meetings and engagements. This is because the party believes young people must be the ones to drive the agenda of the party.

Hlubi-Majola says things like unemployment affect young people the worst with many young people sitting at home even though they have university degrees. “Clearly this system is not really working in the interests of the working class. Members of the working class always get last served or peanuts while the elite gets everything,” she says.

The party’s socialist ideologically is inspired by the Cuban model. 

“Capitalism is a failure. We would be pushing for a society where education is free from birth until you decide you [want to finish]. If we abolish private healthcare and private education suddenly the quality will become a priority and you will see things get improved when such a situation exists,” she says.


Hlubi-Majola says the biggest to deal with in society is patriarchy and the need for actual policies to deal with ensuring equality. “Genuine socialists fight for equality of all. You are a fake socialist if you are not promoting the equality of all, if you are patriarchal, if you are sexist, if you are homophobic and, if you are xenophobic,” she says.

The party’s policy conference will be happening in March. The final policies decided there will be reflective of socialist values. Hlubi-Majola says many big companies still do not pay women of colour, and African women equally compared to men. She says this shows that the capitalist system is racist especially in its treatment of black women. By getting rid of the capitalist system, the party believes things will improve.

SRWP’s 2019 Plan

The party doesn’t have any illusions about the 2019 elections. They will be fine with whatever happens. The main focus of the party is to create a political party that is for the working class. The party wants to exist beyond the elections to work for the working class. “If we do make it to parliament our goal will be to highlight the contradictions within the system that make it impossible for members of the working class to get genuine freedom,” she says. The party believes the system needs to broken down and radically changed.

The party’s conference will happen in March. The working class members of the party will elect the party’s leadership. They will also discuss concrete policies and possible coalition partners. Hlubi-Majola says: “We are very clear that we are a socialist organisation and we are not willing to compromise with organisations that promote capitalist ideology. If you work with us it is because you share the belief that the working class must own the means of production and should seize power.”

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Featured image via Phakamile Hlubi-Majola