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(en) zabalaza #4: White Workers Feel Privatisation's Pinch

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 26 Jun 2003 11:53:21 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

Even White workers have begun to feel the pinch of government's
neo-liberal capitalist policies. Hundreds of residents in the
low-income Claremont, Coronationville, Montclare and Newlands
areas have been living without electricity for almost eight years
after Johannesburg City cut supplies due to low payment.
Electricity and water cut-offs are part and parcel of the ANC
government's neo-liberal GEAR policy. Government aims to cut
tax on the rich, cut its spending on social services, and restructure
its social services into profit-making operations. This policy has
simple aims: to boost the power of big business and to transform
the State into a straightforward trade union for the rich.

In other words, the GEAR policy aims at robbing the poor to pay
the rich. Even researchers at the government-funded HSRC unit
have found that 10 million people have suffered water cut-offs and
5 million have faced eviction from their houses in the last ten


And even residents in mainly White blue-collar Johannesburg
neighbourhoods have felt the pinch. Apartheid helped keep White
workers afloat until the 1980s, when the PW Botha regime began
to flirt with privatisation. With the new government married to the
GEAR policy, conditions have worsened rapidly.

In these affected areas, electricity meters have been removed, and
only residents' protests in early January helped prevent water
supplies being cut-off. Families owe debts of up to R15,000 for
rates and services, but many simply cannot pay as unemployment
rises, school fees climb, and wages fall.

Many of the residents were registered with Johannesburg's
poverty relief programme, which is supposed to exempt the poor
from cut-offs. But the programme, which was introduced after the
2000 municipal elections, has been cancelled by the municipality.

While White capitalists have enjoyed a windfall under the new
government, and the White middle class has mortgaged its soul to
4X4s, coffee shops and liberal pleading, White workers have seen
their conditions worsen sharply. Between the 1970s and early
1990s, the income of the poorest 4 out of 10 Whites fell by nearly


There are many obstacles to uniting workers across the colour line
in South Africa. Successive governments have driven a deep
wedge between workers, and trust between the races does not
come easily. Hate, national pride, competition for a shrinking
number of jobs, and capitalist propaganda all keep workers

But the common experience of subjugation - and of resistance -
helps lay the foundation for some unity.

And the new elite of Black and White capitalists needs to be taught
a lesson - and Working class struggle is the best teacher.

No cut-offs should be tolerated, no evictions should be permitted,
no lying politicians should be elected. We must organise a form of
refusal, of disobedience, of resistance.


Community organisations, neighbourhood centres, union locals
are the units of the working class army in its struggle for liberation.
If the capitalists and politicians want to wage war on the poor, then
they must expect a tough fight. If they want a social war, let's give
them one.

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