By Amina Saddiq
Two days before Solidarity went to press, on 6 June, police in the South African city of Durban attacked nurses picketing their hospital as part of a national public sector strike over pay with plastic bullets and stun grenades. Several strikers were injured and twenty arrested.
On Friday 1 June, nearly half a million workers, including large numbers of nurses, teachers, civil servants and local government employees, struck to demand a 12% pay rise. The government, which has just given senior officials an increase of 30%, offered only 6% — an insult when South Africa’s inflation rate is 5.5% and rising.
The attack on the Durban nurses is not an isolated occurrence. Stun grenades were fired at demonstrators outside Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town on 1 June. But these incidents are part of a broader pattern of state violence against workers in South Africa.
According to the 5 June edition of Johannesburg City Press, one of the city’s police units is currently being investigated for carrying “apartheid-style torture” against bus drivers whose union, the South African Municipal Workers’ Union, was on strike against the ANC-controlled local authority for more than two months earlier this year.
These atrocities, in case anyone is confused, were carried out by black police on the orders of black bourgeois politicians. Despite the dismantling of apartheid, the ANC presides over a capitalist state in which the black working-class majority is still viciously exploited and oppressed. It is able to do so because the Congress of South African Trade Unions, led by the South African “Communist” Party, supports it and opposes the development of independent working-class politics.
South African workers need solidarity — and a party of their own.