The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa will work to set up a political party to represent workers, said Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim.

But if next year’s local government elections arrive and the political party has not been launched‚ Numsa and the United Front umbrella body of community organisations would support independent candidates who are supporting its cause.

Jim said that in the 2016 municipal elections the union’s United Front would support individual working class leaders at strategic municipalities who would champion the struggles of the working class fighting against neo-liberal agendas.

“…there is nothing that stops the United Front in working with civil society organisations‚ taking up struggles in strategic municipalities and say at ward level… ‘we are supporting this particular candidate’” Jim said.

There could be a showdown between the African National Congress and the United Front as Numsa fights the Democratic Alliance. Numsa indicated that the new party’s first mission would be to fend off an onslaught by the DA because of the weakness of the ANC.

“Without a political organ that is loyal and committed to socialism to mobilize the working class, we are vulnerable,” Jim added.

“There is no turning back,” said Jim. “We are forging ahead to crystalise the political organ, but forming a political party is not easy. Part of what we must do is go back to the workers so that they participate in the process of shaping the political organ.”

Jim said the union would hold workshops to discuss what shape the new political formation should take.

“…going forward is the process of dialogue‚ running of workshops and the nature and form of political organ we are forming. Is it going to be a mass party? Is it going to be vanguard party? Are we forming an organisation of professional revolutionists?”

He said the launch of the United Front in June would further clear the path for the new political party.

Numsa has criticized the ANC for not doing enough to improve the conditions of workers in a country where one in four people is unemployed.

Jim blamed what he described as the ANC’s failure to improve the lives of South Africans and transform the economy for fueling anti-immigrant violence this month that claimed at least seven lives.

“The fundamental truth must be recognised. It is the failure of the ANC/SACP government to radically implement the Freedom Charter and thereby make fundamental changes to the economy and transform the lives of South Africans that is at the heart of the xenophobia and its violence” the union said.

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