A revolutionary situation is currently spreading across West Africa. Over the last few days and weeks, big movements of the masses have shaken the regimes of Togo and Gabon to their foundations. It is clear that these are not isolated events. Rather, it is part of a revolutionary wave which has the potential to engulf the entire region.

The expulsion of NUMSA from the COSATU trade union confederation, is one of the most significant events in the African class struggle in the whole of the past period. It clearly exposes the reactionary character of the present COSATU leadership who are willing to tear the union apart rather than allow a militant union to remain within its ranks, even if this means paralysing the workers’ movement in order to preserve their own privileged positions.

As a party that purports to stand for the unity of workers, one expected that the South African Communist Party (SACP) would do its utmost to avert the implosion that is tearing the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) asunder.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, 8 November, the Central Executive Committee of South Africa's largest labour federation, COSATU, voted by a margin of 33 to 24 to expel its biggest affiliate, NUMSA from the federation. This decision will have far-reaching consequences not only for COSATU, but for the liberation movement and the direction of the class struggle.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) announced on Monday that it is severing ties with the tripartite alliance of the ANC, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and COSATU, the trade union federation. It also announced that it is setting up its socialist "United Front" on 13-16 December this year.

On Tuesday, 1 July, hundreds of thousands of metalworkers went out on strike in the engineering and metals sectors, bringing the industry to a complete standstill. The strike involves small, medium and large companies, with more than 220,000 workers at about 10,500 workplaces. Some of the big companies that are affected includes Bell Equipment, Dorbyl, Murray and Roberts, Scaw Metals and Reunert.

The longest strike in South Africa’s history has ended. For nearly five long months, platinum miners affiliated to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) held out against the arrogance and intransigence of the platinum mine bosses. On Thursday the business press  broke  the news that an “in principle agreement” had been reached between the platinum mines and the union. The markets and the national  currency made strong gains in response. On the same day the workers indicated at mass rallies in Rustenburg that they would accept the latest offer of the mining houses. The companies and the union are expected to sign the agreement soon.

An explosive situation is once again building up in the platinum belt around Rustenburg, as a four month old strike over wages by 70,000 miners has seen the dramatic escalation of tensions in the last few days. Just in the last few hours the state has dispatched the army to assist the already large police contingent in a desperate attempt to break the strike.

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