COSATU condemns political killings and ‘vote buying’ during ANC campaign

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SASBO bank workers on the picket line – they will be out again on September 27th

SOUTH Africa’s trade union federation COSATU has expressed concern over ongoing factional battles in the governing ANC party, allegations of vote buying by the CR17 campaign going into the party’s 54th elective conference in 2017, and the rise in political killings in Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal.

These concerns were raised by the trade union’s central executive committee (EC) that sat last week.

Giving details on the resolutions reached at the meeting, deputy general secretary Solly Phetoe said that ‘the EC expressed concerns about the political killings in Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal, and is calling on law enforcement agencies to do their job’.

CSATU condemned the killing of Vaaltyn Kekana, chairperson of the municipal public accounts committee in the Mogalakwena municipality, and Ralph Kanyane, an activist and ANC (African National Congress) branch leader.

They were gunned down in their vehicle ‘in broad daylight’ last Tuesday.

COSATU said politicians probing corruption and looting in the province are being targeted.

‘The federation strongly condemns this act of barbarism by political cowards who … resort to the hiring of assassins,’ said provincial secretary Gerald Mkhomazi Twala in a statement.

‘Our suspicion is that there is a well-organised and funded campaign by political hyenas within the ANC who are hell-bent on silencing any voice speaking against corruption and looting in our province.’

At a media briefing held at the union’s Braamfontein offices last Thursday, Phetoe also said that COSATU is ‘worried by the ongoing factionalism in the ANC’. He called on the leadership to ‘focus on a programme of action to rebuild the ANC and restore unity and cohesion within the movement’.

He said if the governing party heeds COSATU’s advice, public confidence and hope would be restored among the country’s masses.

Chief among what COSATU thinks should be addressed is the matter of leaders publicly attacking each other, an occurrence that has become the norm within the party’s ranks, particularly on social media platforms.

Phetoe said that although COSATU notes ‘attempts to scandalise the concept of fund raising by the CR17 (election) campaign’, its executive committee ‘agrees that the ANC does need to confront the culture of money and vote-buying in its conferences at all levels.’

Phetoe said people are right to be worried about the possibility of influence peddled by funders since this had been the case under the previous administration, with the Gupta family seeking to capture the state.

He added that this behaviour of vote buying is ‘creating a toxic political culture and destroying the moral fibre and political discipline expected of government.’

The federation itself is one of the recipients of hundreds of thousands of rands from President Cyril Ramaphosa’s accounts which were used to channel funds during his campaign to lead the ANC in 2017.

There has been a public uproar over Ramaphosa’s fundraising campaign after the emergence of emails containing details on how money flowed from accounts into those of top ANC officials.

COSATU president Zingiswa Losi expressed the union federation’s frustration over its attempts to engage the governing party.

She said there are certain processes that must be undertaken before the alliance partners can sit and discuss burning issues. However, the ANC had in recent times not honoured scheduled engagements.

The COSATU Central Executive Committee Statement dated 29 August 2019 included the warning:

‘Retrenchments and the declining membership rate in the country remain our biggest problems as the labour movement in the country. The CEC (Crop Estimates Committee) has resolved to intensify our ongoing recruitment campaign in the build-up to next year’s planned Collective Bargaining Conference.

‘The meeting resolved that we need to do more to hold the private sector accountable. We plan to develop strategies to directly pressure the private sector and not just rely on using the state to discipline capital.

‘The meeting endorsed and adopted the Section 77 Strike against retrenchments, initially organised by our affiliated union SASBO (South African finance union).

‘All COSATU affiliated unions will mobilise to ensure that the SASBO banking sector strike on the 27th of September is successful. This will form part of a build-up to a National COSATU Strike on 7th of October 2019.

‘On the IPPs (South Africa’s renewables projects), the EC resolved that we should work with miners union the NUM, using our Section 77 Notice to fight for the scrapping of the IPPs and also approach our lawyers to get a legal opinion on the agreement signed by the government.

‘Our fight against retrenchments is continuing in all sectors including government. The government’s attitude towards the public service and public servants, in particular, is very troubling. We reject the unilateralism that undermines the PSCBC (Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council) by government and we send a message to all of our members in the public service to stand ready to fight against these voluntary austerity measures.

‘We are also working with our affiliated unions to improve the safety of workers in their places of work and this includes holding accountable the people involved in the Marikana killings.

‘We will support and work closely with the NUM for the preparation of a workers’ rally in Marikana in October 2019, we will make sure that the President of the ANC and of the country will visit the Marikana workers and surrounding communities.

‘COSATU demands the following on Marikana:

• Reinvestigate the killing of all workers in Marikana.

• Investigate the payment of all affected families which must include the first 10 people killed before police killed 34 workers.

• Investigate the relationship between Amcu and Lonmin management, including the Marikina trust fund.

• The Police Minister must demand all cases be opened against the killing of other workers after the Marikina tragedy.

• The Minister of Labour must make sure that the constitution of our country is respected, and workers are allowed to join unions of their choice without intimidation.

‘The CEC also instructed all affiliates and structures of the federation to work to improve the level of our cooperation with other trade union federations. We shall implement our congress resolution to build bridges and making sure that we build cordial relations with other federations as part of our campaign to unite the workers and the working class.’

The statement added: ‘It is worrying that the governance of most of the State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) continues to deteriorate, as we now regularly witness the disturbing reports of SOEs failing to pay worker’s salaries.

‘While we believe that the talk of an IMF bailout is overstated, we are clear though that such a development will actually undermine our national self-determination and threaten the course of the National Democratic Revolution.

‘The country is now more vulnerable to the policy dictates of these western institutions and monopoly capital unless drastic interventions are taken to place the economy on a sustainable path of industrialisation and decent job-creation.’

COSATU’s statement further warned: ‘Our banking oligopoly centralises capital flow within the economy, in which, instead of lending for productive investments, increasingly have a strong orientation towards heavy leveraging – in the toxic speculative derivatives – rather than supporting emerging value-creating rural and township activities.’

The CEC added: ‘The government keeps saying that we have an economic crisis, it’s about time they acted like it.

‘We demand the following before we can even introduce this topic to workers:

  • All managers, businesspersons and politicians who looted from Eskom, other SOEs, including Steinhoff must be charged, prosecuted and if found guilty sent to prison.

• The stolen funds from Eskom and other SOEs, the state, including Steinhoff, must be confiscated and returned to the state.

• We welcome the initial R2 billion returned to Eskom and Prasa. But this is only the tip of the iceberg.

  • There must be no retrenchment of workers in the SOEs or the state.
  • Stop recycling SOE managers; cut their wages and bonuses.

• Make SOEs more transparent and efficient.

• There must be a social compact which will see the rich paying their fair share and the poor protected.

• Adjust corporate tax and make sure that indigent households are exempt from paying VAT on essential amounts of water and electricity.’