The workers have arrived!

Nkutšoeu Motsau


By Nkutšoeu Motsau – Chairperson of Azanla MVA
In the capitalist scheme of things, the working people fall on the side of costs in the equation of production, while the CEOs and the company directors appear on the side of the sharing of profits. In this arrangement, all is well when the costs are kept as low as possible and the profits are pushed as high as possible.
Most of the time most of the directors don’t even know the inside of the companies in which they are major shareholders. After floating the company, that is, providing the money for the establishment of the company, their major relationship with the company is checking messages in their cell phones to see how much dividends have been deposited into their bank accounts. They spent most of their time in their luxurious yachts, or cruising the oceans and touching continents as they tour the world; or they are at horse racecourses. They live in mansions, own country houses and large game farms.

The workers possess only their own bodies whose labour-power they exchange for wages. They live in slums and townships. After independence in Zimbabwe, they called townships “High-density suburbs”. In South Africa, they call slums “Informal settlements.” In Kenya, Nairobi, they call them slums; the biggest has 800 000 residents. The workers spend all their lives working for the rich. They enjoy themselves in shebeens and never get the chance to go to the national parks. The vehicles that they know are the minibuses, the buses and trains in which they commute to and from work. At work they fight for everything. They fight for reasonable working hours, they fight for their safety, they fight for higher wages, they fight for payment for overtime.

When you say, Mr President, that you want to create 1 million jobs in three years, you mean you want to recreate the same conditions described above for 1 million people. When you go abroad and open our country obscenely wide, inviting shareholders to come and invest here, you want to replicate the situation that has been described above. We have Lonmin here, of which you are a major shareholder, look at how Marikana, next to it, looks like! How else must we understand you?

We want none of that. We want workers cooperatives! You bought Optimum coal mine for the Guptas. Now the workers are not being paid there. Why can’t the government assist the workers to buy the mine for themselves? If the Guptas could run the mine, so can the miners, even better. And I can assure you that there will never be a strike in that mine again; that the minimum wage will be no less than R12,500, a far cry from your paltry R3500 minimum wage; the working conditions will be determined by the workers themselves; what is more, they will decide what to do with the profits! They will help to create more workers cooperatives; they will be on both sides of the production equation. And that is where they ought to be!

In 2015, the salary of the Speaker of Parliament was R226 400 a month. With that, you can pay the wages of 65 workers earning a minimum wage of R3 500. To that salary of the speaker Parliament add a top of the range laptop, top of the range cell phone and unlimited air time, a high end car, a house, subsidised food, unlimited medical aid, travel expenses for family and air tickets, sumptuous pension benefits! This applies mutatis mutandis to all the other public representatives. These people and the captains of industry struck an agreement with the union representatives (at Nedlac) that a minimum wage shall be R3 500.

* The writer of this column, Nkutšoeu Motsau, was born in Top Location in the Vaal Triangle in 1953. He grew up in Sharpeville. He is a tetraplegic as a result of a car accident in July 2005 in Sharpeville and now resides in Cape Town, but still feels a deep rooted connection with the Vaal. Nkutšoeu is Chairperson of Azanla MVA.

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