Jim defends SRWP election showing

New socialist workers’ party waste of votes and money, says political analyst


With the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party (SRWP) receiving votes equating to less than 8% of Numsa’s membership in the 2019 national elections, party leader Irvin Jim said it was never a given that union members would vote for the new political party.Jim is the SRWP chair while also heading Numsa, one of the biggest trade unions in SA with more than 338,000 members.The SRWP only managed to secure 24,439 votes nationally, with 4,448 in the Eastern Cape and 1,808 in Nelson Mandela Bay.This equates to less than 7% of Numsa’s membership in the national vote.“We refuse to blame Numsa members for the SRWP performance in the elections especially in the light of the fact that these elections are extremely questionable,” he said.“In all fairness, we have done very well.“There is absolutely no basis of accusing our members and creating unnecessary confusion between Numsa and SRWP, as we have maintained it’s not a given that Numsa members will vote for the SRWP.”Jim said the SRWP – like any other political party – would have to win the hearts of organised and unorganised workers on its own.With the sobering showing at the polls, political analyst Ongama Mtimka said the SRWP was a waste of money and a waste of votes.“They should have just skipped this election,” he said.It appears the party spared no money with the face of Jim, who also heads the SRWP, plastered on thousands of street lights, bridges and walkways around the city.It would have cost the party a combined R605,000 to contest nationally and in every province – with this money now forfeited to the IEC.But Jim said funding for the party did not come from the coffers of Numsa.“We used fundraising. We have not spent a cent from Numsa in the formation and campaign of the party.“Our adversaries and enemies are using that to try get to me,” he said.SRWP general secretary Ralake Oupa said the party was not shocked by the outcome, mainly due to the inefficiencies of the IEC.“They [the results] also fit very well with the local and global trends in recent years.“The SRWP has an uphill battle to secure seats in bourgeois parliaments.“We have just received our baptism of fire in these elections,” he said.“We did not fool ourselves that we would win overwhelmingly, nor was that our objective, in these elections.”But, labelling the SRWP as an unviable political project, Mtimka said: “I don’t see why anyone else would have voted for the party.“They would have just wasted their vote as the parent body [Numsa] was not even committed.”Summing up the reasons for the party’s failure, Mtimka said this was due to a late start in campaigning – including putting posters up at the last minute – along with confusion on what the party stood for.He said the party also repeated past mistakes and the SRWP had no visible presence from a branch to national level.Based on this, Ongama said clearly the union did not see the value of its own political party.“If they felt so strongly about the party they would have delayed it until the next election,” he said.Ongama said the idea to form a party through Numsa was decided via a resolution made six years ago.“A landmark resolution was made, in 2013, to finally sever ties with the ANC, start a socialist movement, a mass-based united front, and explore the possibilities for a workers’ party,” he said.The resolution called for a new political party and a workers movement, similar to the United Democratic Front, a major anti-apartheid organisation in the 1980s.But, he said, little was done after this decision was made at a Numsa conference.“The union experimented in a half-hearted way with the United Front in the 2016 local government elections.”“The United Front actually became the political vehicle in practice when it was just a social movement and not the political home for the working class,” he said.“On the eve of the local government elections, the union was still confused in affirming the United Front as its political project.“To add to the confusion, you had the United Front in the Eastern Cape contesting in Nelson Mandela Bay and in Sterkspruit a civil association affiliated to the United Front campaigning there.“Through all this, Jim showed his support but was not forthcoming with any funds from the union.“Then, after that, it remained quiet until about two months before the elections.“They then repeated the same exact mistakes which they did with the United Front.“They came in late to campaign and then just started splashing posters everywhere.“They were just as confused about what the party stood for, both their own people and those outside of the union.“To prove they are were internally confused is that Saftu did not support them,” he said.On the party’s own reason for the poor showing, he said: “For them to blame the IEC and all the other weaknesses is really disingenuous.“They have themselves to blame for bungling the resolution in 2013 and not following through with it.”Jim said the party did not start campaigning late, with a pre-party launched of the party in December 2018.“We participate in the elections seriously with an intention to secure parliamentary seats,” he said.He said the United Front was the brainchild of Numsa, just like the SRWP.“We built the United Front to take up working-class struggles as many communities have been engulfed by service delivery protests.“The role of the United Front is to continue to provide leadership to the guerilla struggles of the working class.“It will now enjoy Numsa, Saftu [headed by Zwelinzima Vavi] and the SRWP in the actual theatre of the struggle.”

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