South Africa: 20 years after Mandela's release, class apartheid continues
By Patrick Bond
February 16, 2010 -- Recall that South Africa's President Jacob Zuma came to power last year as a result, mainly, of trade union and South African Communist Party mobilisations in 2006-08, culminating in the rude but welcome dismissal of president Thabo Mbeki.
And now, because he is unable to galvanise momentum for any sort of political project aside from survival [following another round of scandals surrounding his private life and dubious attitude towards women], Zuma appears to be drifting rightwards, towards the Afican National Congress' solid financial-support base of white capital and aspiring black entrepreneurs.
On February 11, the 20th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's release from prison, was the day that Zuma was meant to fight back, by delivering a stunning State of the Nation speech in front of Mandela and the nation. Instead, he and his speechwriters pleased no one. Zuma displayed "no appreciation of the full extent of the massive crisis of unemployment, poverty and inequality", as the leaders of his main ANC's alliance partner, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), bitterly complained.
Statistics justifying this charge were revealed three weeks ago by middle-of-the-road economists at the University of Cape Town (UCT). "Income inequality increased between 1993 and 2008", reported Murray Leibbrandt, Ingrid Woolard, Arden Finn and Jonathan Argent. "Poverty in urban areas has increased."
South Africa's Gini coefficient inequality measure raced ahead of Brazil's to become the world's leader among major countries: from 0.66 in 1993 to 0.70 in 2008. The income of the average black (African) person actually fell as a percentage of the average white's from 1995 (13.5%) to 2008 (13.0%).
How could a democratic government adopt socioeconomic policies that amplified apartheid race-class inequality?
Mandela, Mbeki, long-serving finance minister (now planning minister) Trevor Manuel, former trade minister Alec Erwin, and former central bank governor Tito Mboweni -- and Zuma too -- all deserve credit for a feat not even the most extreme pessimist could have predicted when the ANC was unbanned exactly two decades ago.
According to the UCT researchers, the inequality problem is "due both to rising unemployment and rising earnings inequality" -- in turn partly due to labour broking, i.e., the outsourcing of formerly secure employment at much lower wages with no benefits.
There are 500,000 outsourced workers in South Africa, according to industry sources, though the finance ministry confessed during parliamentary questions last October that its economists don't really have a clue: "To conduct such a study would require detailed data on the number of workers involved with temporary employment services or labour broking, the wages of these workers and some estimate for the number of workers who would lose their jobs if labour broking were to be banned."
Leaders of a decent society would immediately find out the answers, then ban labour brokers, and at the same time increase state-subsidised employment creation, especially for badly needed green jobs such as construction of solar hot-water heaters and community facilities, and environmental maintenance.
But as the inequality data show, South Africa is just not that kind of place; it's a society in which the ruling party's crony capitalists ally with those who grew wealthy during racial apartheid, and then together promote class-apartheid policies and practices to accumulate yet more wealth.
University of KwaZulu-Natal microcosm
In our own microcosm at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) here in Durban, the implications of this system are evident thanks to vivid lessons our administrators learned when the great teacher of poverty, Mamphela Ramphele, experimented on UCT's workforce a decade ago.
Ramphele was Steve Biko's partner, a revolutionary and community health worker during the 1970s, and a researcher of Western Cape social degradation in her 1980s anthropology doctoral thesis, and co-chair of the Carnegie Inquiry into poverty.
A committed scholar-activist, she had to retool for a new, rather more lucrative stage of her career a decade ago: World Bank managing director. To create poverty on the prolific scale required at the World Bank, Ramphele got good training as UCT's president (vice-chancellor), from 1996-2000.
According to her deputy, Wieland Gevers, Ramphele's arrival marked "a turning point in UCT's history", as the university's "focus underwent a fundamental shift". Ramphele "served on the boards of several premier corporations. She came to UCT strongly convinced that its administration was archaic and not sufficiently informed by modern corporate practice. A whirlwind hit UCT."
The ill wind blew away the rights of already low-paid workers. Explained an approving Gevers, "In corporate fashion, and with support of UCT's Council, Mamphela outsourced many functions that were not core business." By March 2000, the Labour Court ruled that UCT could retrench hundreds of non-academic staff, "a process which has already left many families homeless and fighting for survival", according to journalist Beauregard Tromp.
As at UKZN, labour broking wrecked the lives of UCT workers doing cleaning, gardening, maintenance and messenger services. Ramphele called this "pruning the tree of dead wood and inappropriately placed branches to make way for new shoots".
Dead wood? Leonard Malukazi of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union observed that Ramphele fired low-income workers who served for more than 30 years: "There were people who were about to retire in a year's time. Even then they didn't give a second thought to who they retrenched."
It was a brutal shock, says Malukazi. "The majority of university workers have been working to pay a housing bond [mortgage] and with these retrenchments it basically means that you have entire families out on the streets without the benefits of health care or housing allowances."
As Ramphele's salary soared at the World Bank, UCT workers suffered dramatic income cuts (to an average of US$160 per month) and lost their annual bonus, free medical insurance, housing subsidy and all other benefits.
UCT academics Jonathan Grossman and Vicki Scholtz noted how "Ramphele spoke of the "painful decision" and assured the UCT community that the workers would be employed, retrained and/or able to start their own businesses. As with so many painful decisions, the pain was all imposed on the victims of the decision by those taking it."
But the UCT workers resisted and after continuing their court battles, the university -- under new management -- was soon compelled to pay out nearly a million dollars worth of damages. Then workers brought their pay up to $400/month through organising and strikes.
The same process has begun at UKZN because of extremely low wages -- cleaners take home just $120/month, security guards $240 -- and exploitative working conditions, including the mass firing of 80 vulnerable cleaning workers last month.
Trevor Ngwane of the Centre for Civil Society works closely with worker-leader Zama Hlatshwayo; even these very talented radicals persistently reach deadlock with university human-resources bureaucrats.
It's a dangerous game, for anger at labour brokers ramped up tragic violence during the 2006 national security guards' strike, in which 70 scab workers were killed. "The security industry paid pitiful wages and must take responsibility for what happened," conceded Ramphele, in her 2009 book Laying Ghosts to Rest. "The right to work for a decent reward was violated by its exploitative practices."
She uses a chapter of that book to justify her UCT management practices, but somehow forgets to mention the outsourcing of low-paid workers. The "talk-left, walk-right" legacy, so typical of nationalist, post-apartheid managerialism, continues to bedevil our universities; UKZN's mission statement also sounds progressive.
What can change the power balance?
Zuma is apparently not to be trusted, for as COSATU observed on February 13, his speech contained "nothing on the creation of decent work, the spread of casualisation of labour and the scourge of labour broking, and nothing to explain how he intends to implement the 2009 manifesto commitment to 'avoid exploitation of workers and ensure decent work'."
What Zuma did do, however, was threaten more police brutality against the victims of his macroeconomic policies, such as was witnessed in the most militant peripheral town (Balfour) last week when police hunted down and tortured community activists. South Africa's per capita social protest rate continues to lead the world, and scenes of road blockades, burning tyres and repression reminiscent of the film District 9, may prove yet more embarrassing to the South African ruling class when 3 billion viewers tune into the soccer World Cup starting on June 11.
Zuma also promised electicity utility Eskom's partial privatisation, notwithstanding South Africa's universally miserable experience with the likes of phone company Telkom's Texan-Malaysian rip-off landline phone partners, the disastrous Suez municipal water takeover in Johannesburg, the crash of a South African Airlines-Swiss Air deal, machinations by the US energy firm AES, toll roads and many others.
Privatisation will, COSATU replied, "ultimately wreck a crucial public national service and we shall continue to campaign vigorously to prevent the sell-off of a vital public asset"'
Many others agree. On February 16, South Durban community organisers and Climate Justice Now!-KZN activists protested at Eskom's Durban headquarters against massive electricity price increases (likely to be approved by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa), vast greenhouse gas emissions from proposed coal-fired power plants and the threatened $3.75 billion World Bank loan.
The unity of consumers, communities, environmentalists and workers -- both formally employed and outsourced -- might prevail. An international coalition is forming to deny Eskom access to the World Bank, and if that fails, to deny the World Bank access to the $250 billion in capital it will be asking for at its Spring 2010 meetings in Washington just 10 weeks from now.
A decade ago, Trevor Ngwane and the late Dennis Brutus were instrumental in launching the World Bank Bonds Boycott, which followed the South African divestment movement of the 1970s-'80s by lobbying institutional investors to avoid profits and interest from apartheid -- or in this case, global apartheid.
In this and similar struggles now intensifying here, we riff-raff are up against formidable opponents from Pretoria to Washington, including world-class experts well practiced in the art of generating poverty and inequality. Calls for solidarity against all these class-apartheid manifestations will soon ring out.
SOUTH AFRICAN STUDENTS CONGRESS
18 February 2010
BUDGET SPEECH – OLD WINE PACKED IN NEW GORDHAN BOTTLE
Stripped of the pomp and
demagogy so reminiscent of the former Minister of Finance, Pravin
Gordhan has not deviated one bit from Manuel’s unpopular fiscal
austerity and inflation targeting antics. Despite all the rhetoric
about the need to focus on the jobless and poor, the budget speech
signals another year of prosperity and unabated accumulation for the
capitalist class while the poor will once more watch the gravy train
We are appalled that
government has not detailed any financial plans to resuscitate
collapsing parastatals, or any political solutions to their financial
crisis such as moratorium on golden handshakes for failed executives.
If government seeks to avoid the unpalatable disaster that will engulf
our parastatals it has got to take decisive action. The financial chaos
in Eskom, Telkom and SABC is as much a fault of the executives as it is
of the government that allows these parastatals to run in the same way
as private companies do. We know that Eskom will attempt to resolve its
cashflow problems by deferring costs to the consumers particularly the
working class and we are totally opposed to this because it will
inevitably force institutions of higher learning to increase fees.
It is difficult to
understand the lack of increase in company tax while the Finance
Minister himself acknowledges a fall in revenue. It cannot be that tax
relief is extended even to the wealthy bourgeoisie in the same way as
it is done for the working class and the poor. This illusion that tax
relief for capital will result in job creation will once more be proven
as wishful thinking.
We are concerned by
Minister Gordhan’s hint that suggests that the Reserve Bank should
remain independent, quoting the constitution. The government continues
to act as though it is oblivious of the fact that the Reserve Bank is
one of the few that remain outside total government control far
surpassing even the most avowed liberal and capitalist states.
Certain aspects of the
budget remain totally laudable and impressive though. The decision for
stern action against tax evasion particularly by companies is welcome.
We also welcome the increase of sin tax. We welcome the increase of
grants, however we believe given the increased inflation of the past
few years necessitated a much more substantive increase on grants. This
re-enforces our call for a Basic Income Grant. We also welcome
increased spending on education but we believe it remains miniscule and
cannot resolve the deep structural problems of the sector.
We believe that the
budget speech was a missed opportunity to reign on companies that
profit from South Africa but play no role in job creation or in
decreasing the gap between the rich and the poor. The Minister missed
the opportunity to once and for all accept the toothlessness of the
capitalist market and direct us towards rigorous government
participation in the economy. The Minister missed an opportunity to
decrease economic stratification by increasing taxation on the rich.
Instead of developing a
new path, Pravin Gordhan’s budget speech is nothing but old wine packed
in a new bottle. The excitement over the neo-liberal in outlook of the
budget speech by DA, COPE and other opposition parties, exposes this.
For details Contact
Mbulelo Mandlana (President)
076 934 9863
Lazola Ndamase (Secretary General)
082 679 8718
Business Day: General strike threat as unions round on minister
WILSON JOHWA BD PUBLISHED: 2010/02/19 07:13:22 AM
WITH a day to marshal their forces after Wednesday's budget, union leaders yesterday launched a furious assault on Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and the government for "talking left and walking right".
They were also firming plans for a general strike in October as a row mushroomed over Gordhan's decision to hold the Reserve Bank's target inflation band at 3%-6%.
As President Jacob Zuma 's brittle coalition begins to unravel, union leaders all but accused Gordhan of deceiving them, saying that the ruling alliance's summit meeting in November had agreed to create a task team to study broadening the Reserve Bank's mandate.
Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said yesterday the task team had not even met.
"The mood (at the summit) was that the inflation targeting policy had to be reviewed; the band had to be reviewed," Vavi said.
"We have to keep an interest rate regime that is low. We've got to have a competitive exchange rate. We've got to consider speed bumps so that we don't lose out in terms of investment moving out of the country," he said.
These questions sho uld have been referred to the task team.
Vavi accused the Zuma administration of ignoring Cosatu's concerns on economic policy.
"In the meantime, government processes are not waiting for us. The minister
(Gordhan) is galloping (ahead) as we now know. Then the question is, where is the political centre, why is it not holding in relation to that matter?
Must we now wait for the minister to change his mind until next year? We will not."
Cosatu could no longer afford to "place all the eggs in the basket of engagement", Vavi said. It would "fight practically", with a general strike in October in protest against labour broking and unemployment.
Cosatu, which last week supported Zuma for a second term as state and African National Congress (ANC) president, was angered by Zuma's failure to even mention the issue of labour broking in his state of the nation speech.
Cosatu's second-largest affiliate, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), yesterday criticised Zuma's state of the nation address and the budget. It criticised Zuma for not defending ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe against attacks by the ANC Youth League.
Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim accused Gordhan of appropriating the language of the left, and talking of transforming the economy while retaining the status quo.
"We continue to witness an empty state of the nation address and the minister of finance talking left but acting right," Jim said at a media briefing after a two-day meeting of the Numsa executive.
The state of the nation address had failed "to give a clear vision and command to all state institutions and to galvanise the masses of our people behind the programme of action as laid out at Polokwane", he said.
The budget was "antiworking class and antipoor". It had nothing do with doing things differently. Jim questioned the government's definition of "job opportunities", asking why enough money was not put into road agencies to create significant jobs in road construction and maintenance.
"Decent work is not hamburger jobs," he said.
Jim also laid into Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus, saying it appeared that "the new governor has not grasped the damage caused by a strong exchange rate, which makes our economy suck in excessive imports, a problem also exacerbated by trade liberalisation measures of the past".
Numsa, the most vocal of Cosatu affiliates on the Reserve Rank mandate, said the Bank was still pursuing conservative policies of high real interest rates, despite demands for a 2% interest-rate decline to stimulate growth and reduce the rand's overvaluation.
Jim also said there was an anticommunist campaign in the ANC targeting Mantashe.
He asked why Zuma, as party president, was quiet, despite attacks on Mantashe, a member of the executive. "We are not married to Gwede. We elected the top six," he said.
Jim said the ANC Youth League, which was leading the campaign against Mantashe, was fronting unknown individuals, who had risen in the realignment of forces after the ANC's Polokwane conference.
"There is a force behind the youth league."
Bloomberg: Cosatu’s Vavi Says ‘Gloves Are Off’ Over ANC Alliance (Update1)
By Franz Wild and Mike Cohen
Feb. 19 (Bloomberg) --Zwelinzima Vavi, leader of South Africa’s biggest labor federation, said the government’s failure to overhaul policies that have left one in four workers without jobs is straining the country’s ruling alliance.
“The gloves are off,” Vavi, secretary-general of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, said today in an interview with Johannesburg-based E-TV. “There’s no more honeymoon.”
On Feb. 17, Vavi told reporters he was “extremely disappointed” after Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan maintained spending limits and inflation controls when he presented the national budget. The central bank will continue to target inflation of 3 percent to 6 percent, Gordhan said.
Cosatu portrays Gordhan’s budget, his first, as a continuation of policies that accompanied the longest period of growth in Africa’s largest economy, when unemployment reached 24 percent. Cosatu and the South African Communist Party have supported the African National Congress in a ruling alliance since the ANC took power 1994, after the country’s first all- race elections.
In 2007, Cosatu’s influence in the ANC was instrumental in ensuring Jacob Zuma, now South Africa’s president, replaced the party leader at the time, Thabo Mbeki, whose fiscal conservatism the labor organization deemed bad for employment.
“The alliance is in trouble, but is not at the point where it will fall apart,” Dirk Kotze, a politics professor at the University of South Africa, said by telephone from Pretoria. He said Cosatu needs the alliance more than the ANC does. “There are many people in the ANC who express that quite bluntly,” he said, while the ANC can still have an electoral majority” without having to rely on the unions.
‘War’ on Workers
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa said Gordhan had “been overly influenced by the neo-liberal priests, who can’t see beyond outdated neo-liberal stereotypes.” The budget “constitutes a declaration of war to workers and the poor, as its intention is to undermine the gains that we have secured under the dark days of apartheid,” the union said in a statement on its Web site yesterday. Apartheid refers to the policies which segregated the races under white-minority rule.
Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven said the federation won’t seek to replace Zuma or leave the alliance with the ANC and the South African Communist Party. Craven spoke on the telephone from Johannesburg.
Gordhan rejected criticism from the unions. “We want to humbly and respectfully disagree,” he said in a Feb. 17 interview. “This budget begins to signal that we are on a different growth path. We are attempting to do things differently.”
--Editors: Heather Langan, Alan Crawford
NUMSA NEC Statement – 18 February 2010 on
political–socio-economic challenges confronting the country:
The Numsa National Executive Committee meeting held a serious debate and discussion on the political developments that have taken place within our own liberation alliance led by the African National Congress. We considered problems that have engulfed the alliance as a result of some individuals within the ANC who are resolute to champion an anti-communist stance against other ANC members. The NEC concluded that such individuals have taken an anti-Cosatu and anti-SACP posture.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa takes the view that this anti-communist stance has in fact singled out Secretary General of the ANC Gwede Mantashe, on the basis that he is a communist. This anti-SACP and anti-Cosatu posture is unprovoked, and it is deliberately generated by an alignment of individuals who disapprove of the good working relations within the alliance that emerged after Polokwane. Our union takes the view that this red pen game is the old tendency that has forever haunted the national liberation movement and it has always been defeated. Numsa takes the view that this tendency is ideologically not different to what we have dealt with in the past 15 years and which, defined as the 1996 class project.
Numsa in its analysis takes the view that this red pen game that has singled out the Secretary General of the ANC is nothing else but a class war against the interests of the working class, which constitutes the primary and decisive motive force in the African National Congress.
The offensive by this anti-working class tendency can only be about desperate backward capitalist accumulation for these individuals and the capitalist class seeking to use both the ANC and the state for private accumulation of wealth. These forces are threatened by the class nature of Cosatu and South African Communist Party and their growing hegemony over the South African political and ideological landscape.
Numsa rejects the premature call to unseat the Secretary General of the ANC now and in 2012. This is now an open and now hidden reactionary capitalist class agenda and it is not in the interests of our liberation movement, the African National Congress; it is anti working class which is a key constituency of the movement. The Numsa NEC is very certain that we shall defeat this reactionary challenge as we have defeated the 1996 class project.
We think this call to remove the ANC Secretary General constitutes a rude awakening and point to the importance of the call by Cosatu to defeat corruption championed by gangs inside and outside our movement for tenders and concessions. Numsa regards the campaign against Cosatu and the Sacp as informed by the capitalist greed of individuals who want to take control of the movement and the state to use it as their accumulation strategy. These individuals clearly regard the Secretary General as not amenable to such an accumulation strategy.
Numsa, in the light of these challenges, resolved to call on its members and Cosatu to intensify the swelling of the ranks of the African National Congress so that the interests of the poor and the working class are secured, now and beyond 2012.
The national union notes liberalism championed by individuals who are championing this fragmentation and division within our own movement the African national congress for persona greed when it suit them they speak left and claim to be Marxist, their sympathizers include some within our movement, those who were part of forming Cope but didn’t leave, those are in Cope who are celebrating this opportunistic call to deal with the leadership elected at Polokwane
Mao Tsetung defined their liberalism their character trait, their mannerism and said “People who are liberals look upon the principles of Marxism as abstract dogma. They approve of Marxism, but are not prepared to practise it or to practise it in full; they are not prepared to replace their liberalism by Marxism. These people have their Marxism, but they have their liberalism as well - they talk Marxism but practise liberalism; they apply Marxism to others but liberalism to themselves. They keep both kinds of goods in stock and find a use for each”
State of the Nation
On the state of the nation address by President of the African National Congress and the republic of South Africa comrade Jacob Zuma:
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa welcomes the state of the nation address, but we remain extremely concerned about some fundamental issues which in our view have been left out, especially in the light of the major structural problems faced by our economy. The address failed to respond to the glaring serious and worsening socio-economic conditions confronting working class communities. It also failed to give a clear vision and command to all state institutions and to galvanize the masses of our people behind the programme of action as laid out in Polokwane.
On the economy we noted the following:
· The economy has lost 900 000 jobs.
· The Reserve Bank is still pursuing its conservative policies of high real interest rates – we repeat our demand for a 2% interest rate decline to stimulate growth and reduce the rand’s overvaluation - and it appears that the new governor has not grasped the damage caused by a strong exchange rate, which makes our economy suck in excessive imports, a problem also exacerbated by trade liberalization measures of the past
· The insufficiently expansive fiscal stance adopted by the National Treasury in view of the continuing weak performance of the economy, and the continued relaxation of exchange controls, which will worsen the country’s persistent balance of payments deficit
· The lack of pronouncements on need to regulate short-term capital flows
· There is an increase in casual labour and various forms of precarious work
· The economy continues to wallow in deepening income inequalities, with South Africa now conclusively overtaking Brazil as the world’s most unequal large economy
· There is little progress by government departments and state owned enterprises to set and adhere to local procurement targets
· There appears a lack of commitment to promote decent work through procurement practices that could champion localization, and a failure to act against labour brokers
· There is no relief from the continued domination of our economy by monopolies, their immoral tendencies of price fixing, thereby worsening poverty for the majority of our people.
· There is still a lack of implementation on what has already been agreed at Nedlac in response to the crisis, particularly the roll-out strategy for infrastructure.
Numsa is therefore disappointed that these critical issues failed to see the light of day in the State of the Nation address. Numsa had hoped that the President would:
· Lay out a re-conceptualized public works programme that guarantees quality and sustainable jobs to all those who are willing and able to work, as a key lever in the promotion of decent work and denting poverty and unemployment.
· Flag key sectors in which the state will play a decisive particularly highlighting opportunities for a state-led agricultural development programme that is aimed at upgrading and installing rural productive infrastructure, a national pest control programme, revitalization of water reservoirs, and irrigation schemes in order to revitalize the agricultural sector. Such projects offer sustainable jobs given the continued need for maintenance and management of productive infrastructure.
· Provide direction and report on work already underway regarding the review of the mandate of the Reserve Bank in dealing with monetary policy, how it relates to fiscal policy and in what way monetary policy puts the creation of decent work as a primary focus, in line with the Election Manifesto. The omission by the President to address this issue under-estimates the extent to which monetary policy constrains the economy from taking advantage of the economic recovery, and it leaves South Africa out of step with the rest of the world in relation to Reserve Bank ownership and the mandate enjoyed by other central banks to improve overall economic performance – not simply maintain an overvalued interest rate and target inflation.
· Highlight the need for management of volatile capital flows to protect South Africa from dangerous international financial market machinations which have already led to five major crashes of the rand since 1996, and the institution of exchange controls to lower the adverse impact of exchange rate volatility on investment and employment.
· Pronounce on the fact that government’s commitment to decent work is the direct opposite of the business of labour brokers, and that labour brokers should be banned.
· Indicate a comprehensive review of procurement procedures, and give practical effect to the commitment to localization, decent work and the promotion of sustainable livelihoods.
· Respond to service delivery protests by reporting on the concrete progress that has been made to address the underlying problems faced by working class communities on service delivery, which are a product of the distorted structure of the South African economy, the lack of appropriate subsidies for services such as electricity and water, and commercialisation policies in municipalities that lead to services disconnections.
· Provide policy direction on tackling negative consequences that stem from the private character of monopoly industries, particularly petro-chemicals, steel and some food processing companies who sabotage government’s efforts to fight poverty and increase competitiveness, by engaging in import-parity pricing and collusion, thereby undermining the prospects of developing a vibrant manufacturing value chain.
· Pronounce on a creative way to roll-out the infrastructure programme, as part of the response to the crisis.
· Flag issues such as the revitalization of the road and rail network as a critical intervention to create decent work and to promote the long-term competitive potential of the economy. This could be done through the capacitation of the National Road Agency to directly employ road workers and engineers for construction of roads, maintenance, and expansion of infrastructure to revitalize collapsed rural towns that have been victims of the nodal approach on development and connect them to the mainstream of the economy in order to promote balanced development and to eliminate economic exclusion.
· We have made the point in the past, and we will continue making it, that as a liberation movement, our revolution is about liberating Black people in general, Africans in particular. This can only be done if we truly live up to the movement’s resolve in Morogoro in 1969, that unless the basic wealth of this country is restored to the people as a whole, the narrow emphasis on service delivery sets up the ANC-led Alliance for failure. No amount of service delivery will address the gap between the growing needs of the masses and the current lagging financial capacity of the state, unless the basic wealth is restored to the people as a whole. This issue should constitute a thread that defines all State of the Nation addresses.
On Energy we noted the following:
a) The pronouncement on independent power producers
b) The establishment of an independent system operator
Numsa noted the above pronouncements and unfortunately, it leaves us with the impression that privatization is being introduced through other means than the outright sale of Eskom. We note that this is taking place against the backdrop of the crisis in Eskom and the hike in electricity prices. The Numsa position will be to reject any form of privatization of the energy sector.
Our proposal instead must be to assemble a team of experts to investigate:
· the cost-drivers that make the Eskom not viable
· the forces behind the huge tariff hikes demanded by Eskom
· the procurement practices and the role of consultants in driving Eskom’s costs
· the technical capacity of Eskom to manage mega-projects
· the capacity of Eskom management to pull together a turnaround strategy for such a national asset
· the extent to which the pricing of electricity promotes priority sectors
· rejection of the $4 billion World Bank loan, with all that it implies for privatization and higher consumer tariffs hitting the poor hardest, and instead source local savings where grid expansion is required
In the absence of such a comprehensive investigation, it is premature for government to suggest a role for the private sector’s profit motive to build capacity for energy supply. Numsa has become more worried that this may have been recommended by unscrupulous consultants who have a stake in the establishment of such private entities which may be waiting in the wings to exploit our people.
Workers rights and the LRA:
Numsa calls on Cosatu to convene a Labour Law Review Conference for purposes of amending labour legislation in the interest of workers suffering the brutality of employers who seek to maximize profits at the expense of worker rights.
Numsa demand that parliament should abolish labour broking and in this regard we are firm that the constitution of the RSA must be amended because it currently provides an avenue for labour brokers in terms of section 22 of the constitution.
Numsa has noted that Commissioners in the CCMA and Bargaining Councils are not acting in the interests of dismissed workers; it appears that arbitrations are done on the basis of profiteering and chasing after as many cases to increase income and quality work is not taken up
The National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa listened to the Budget Speech by the Minister of Finance and we are convinced that this budget is anti-working class and anti-poor.
The budget has become a platform to take forward the neo-liberal macro-economic framework (GEAR) into a faster and higher reverse gear.
Our union is not surprised because we have consistently argued that the Treasury staff belong to the old order that resisted change, and continued to tie development of our country to the Washington Consensus, which has failed the world so miserably these last years.
We are afraid that the Minister of Finance has been overly influenced by the neoliberal priests, who can’t see beyond outdated neo-liberal stereotypes. We are sorry that he is so resolute to maintain the same policies that destroyed every opportunity we have for development and economic recovery.
Numsa rejects with contempt the cheap manipulation of language – talk of ‘Transforming the Economy’ - by the Minister of Finance when his budget retains the status quo. Although he talks of a new growth path, there is nothing to put us on such a path in this budget. The budget has got absolutely nothing to do with doing things differently. Indeed, it constitutes a declaration of war to workers and the poor, as its intention is to undermine the gains that we have secured under the dark days of apartheid.
The following are positions that Numsa will be placing to Cosatu to champion. Cosatu must consider calling for rolling mass action, in the form of a strike, mobilizing workers and the unemployed to take to the streets against the budget, and against the State of the Nation Address announcements and shortcomings:
· inflation targeting must be dropped, and that the process to review fiscal and monetary aggregates as agreed in the alliance must be maintained.
· Numsa rejects the three tier labour system now being introduced by the Minister of Finance, in the interests of capital, because all young people who leave tertiary institutions need quality jobs that pay a living wage.
· Numsa rejects the involvement of the private sector in the delivery of National Health Insurance, in public hospitals management, and especially in the generation of electricity through so-called independent producers.
· Numsa calls on our ANC to remind all our Ministers that the ANC promised the people and the workers of these country decent work; decent work is not available through labour brokers, therefore the ANC must ban labour brokers.
· Numsa calls on government to appreciate that in a country that has just shed 900,000 jobs, much greater resources must be spent on creating decent jobs that pay a living wage.
· Numsa think that the federation, Cosatu should mobilize the working class to come into the street, including the unemployed, the youth and the rest of our communities. We demand measures by government to ensure genuine change in the structure of South African economy, above all measures to ensure that the economy is transferred back to the majority of the people of this country. Such mass action must put an end to corruption that is fuelled by unscrupulous individuals through tenders.
· Numsa calls on Cosatu to declare a S77 dispute on the increase of Eskom tariffs so that we may deal with the unacceptable increase.
Issued by Numsa National Executive Committee, 18 February 2010
National Spokesperson – 073 299 1565