SOUTH AFRICA ‘A COUNTRY RUN BY THIEVES’ – say the SAFTU and NUMSA union organisations

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THE SOUTH African Federation of Trade Unions’ (SAFTU) claim that South Africa is becoming a kleptocracy – a country ruled by thieves – is no exaggeration and has now been proven, says SAFTU president Mac Chavalala.

SAFTU’s congress in Salt River, Cape Town on Saturday, he said South Africa suffers from the same problems many other countries do, and in many areas is worse than the average, particularly unemployment, where the real rate of 36.85 per cent is six times the world average. More than half the population lives below the poverty line and inequality is the widest on the globe.

Chavalala said: ‘It is all the more extraordinary that we should be in this situation under an ANC government which claims to be implementing “radical economic transformation”. The reality is that it has been doing the exact opposite by imposing counter-revolutionary neoliberal policies which have strengthened the dominance of the very same “white monopoly capital” which the ANC leaders pretend to be opposing.

‘What is even worse is the tsunami of evidence pouring out of emails, whistle-blowers’ testimonies, and most recently (investigative journalist) Jacques Pauw’s book “The President’s Keepers”, that leaders of the government, state-owned enterprises, public officials, and private business people have been systematically looting the country’s wealth and amassing fortunes for themselves, their families, and cronies.

‘Despite all the evidence, no one has been prosecuted, because they have also demobilised the organs of state, like the Hawks (Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation), the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority), and key government departments by filling them with stooges who will protect the guilty and themselves from any consequences for crimes which threaten to plunge the whole country into a catastrophic slump.

‘We should note as well, as SAFTU foresaw, that the unravelling network of corruption is far wider than President Zuma and the Guptas, as the names of one big multinational monopoly company after another is implicated in joining or aiding and abetting the corrupt racketeers. The most damning evidence of all in Pauw’s book is that political leaders have been associated with known gangsters and crooks.

‘When SAFTU claimed we were becoming a kleptocracy – a country ruled by thieves – we were not exaggerating at all. That has now been proved to be the reality of South Africa today.’

• A memorial service took place last Friday at the Dutch reformed church in Hatfield, Gauteng province, for a Servest employee working at the University of Pretoria who was killed when he was pulled into a chipper machine at the university’s LC De Villiers campus last Monday, November 6th.

Mokhiti Moeti‚ 25‚ was chopping wood for recycling and compost when the incident occurred. A witness‚ Mulisa Mabudafhasi‚ said: ‘I am traumatised. I don’t think counselling will help. All I saw was his hand gloves disappearing into the machine and within a second there was blood and minced meat all over the machine.

‘We were working under pressure‚ that’s how we live‚ we are oppressed. So my friend was stressed like I was. They left the two of us to operate a dangerous machine without the keys‚ I could not do anything.’

According to Isaac Malema‚ spokesperson for the General Industries Workers Union of South Africa (GIWUSA)‚ the workers were not properly equipped to operate the machine. Malema said: ‘After investigations into this‚ I am of the understanding that the machine must be operated by a minimum of six people‚ and in this case it was only two. The workers told us that they were not properly trained or given safety equipment.’

The ANC Youth League branch at the university charged that workers at the university continued to be treated as ‘expendable appendages’. Tholithembelihle Cenenda‚ branch chairperson of the ANCYL at the university, said: ‘The death of a worker must be seen as a loss to the University as a whole.

‘The ANCYL Tukkies branch notes and condemns the classist and seemingly racist nature of University in acknowledging deaths of workers. Outsourced workers continue to be treated as expendable appendages that mean nothing to the University community.’

The university and Servest said in a joint statement that an investigative team had been unable to conclusively identify the root cause of the fatal accident. The joint statement said: ‘Police and emergency services were immediately called to the scene. Both Servest and UP are working hand in hand with SAPS and the Department of Labour as they investigate the matter.

‘The investigative team has thus far been unable to conclusively identify the root cause of this fatal accident‚ however‚ the SAPS and the Department of Labour are still finalising their investigation. Servest and UP has and will continue to cooperate with SAPS and the Department of Labour.’

• The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) last Thursday attended briefing sessions hosted by the Department of Labour into the National Minimum Wage (NMW) as well as proposed changes to the Labour Law legislation.

It said in a statement beforehand: ‘Below are NUMSA’s reasons for rejecting the NMW:

‘1. We are not opposed to the NMW in principle. We are opposed to the amount of R3,500 which translates to a mere R20 per hour. The NMW in its current form has been set at a very low rate and therefore perpetuates the historical and continuing Apartheid capitalist legacy of the super exploitation of Black and African labour. Its goal is to re-inforce inequality by ensuring a pool of cheap African labour which can be exploited by Capital.

‘2. The miners of Marikana were massacred by the state for demanding a living wage of only R12,500 per month. Their demands were justifiable and reasonable given that for the last 23 years this government has failed to improve basic living and working conditions for the working class majority. Furthermore, as the creators of wealth in the economy, miners, like all workers deserve a living wage which will allow them to raise their families with dignity. The majority of workers continue to suffer as they did under Apartheid, under the burden of poverty, unemployment and extreme inequality.

‘3. The StatsSA Labour Market Dynamics Survey showed that the average South African worker earned an average of R4400 per month, which in itself was very low in 2012. But thanks to Deputy President Cyril “McBuffalo” Ramaphosa of the ANC, who has been championing this legislation, workers will be earning even less than this if implemented.

‘4. In the sectors in which NUMSA organises, such as the auto and engineering sectors, workers earn almost twice as much as the NMW as a minimum rate. This is because the working class has fought long, hard bitter battles to improve wages as well as the basic working conditions.

‘NUMSA views the proposal as an attack on the working class. But we are not surprised, after all Cyril “McBuffalo” was the owner of McDonald’s in South Africa which is famous for the “McJob”, which by definition is a low paying job with few prospects.

‘Cyril “McBuffalo” has abused his trade union credentials in order to become a filthy rich capitalist, and he is pushing for the exploitation of the working class. NUMSA had proposed that the NMW should be sector based so that workers who are earning above the minimum threshold don’t suffer as a result of its implementation. The impact of implementing it as it is, is that those workers who earn above the minimum threshold will eventually lose their jobs, in order to be replaced by a younger workforce which will be exploited at a rate of R20 per hour.

‘Furthermore we reject the proposed Accord and Code of Good Practice which has been signed by sell out trade union federations NACTU, FEDUSA and COSATU. The Accord states that we are against violence, intimidation and that we are committed to ensuring that we do not damage property when we go on strike.

‘We reject this Accord because it is based on a racist belief that African workers are violent, without acknowledging that Capitalism as a system is brutal on the working class. Also all strike action is guided by the legislation through picketing rules and therefore there is absolutely no reason to change from this existing practice.

‘Legislation in order to impose a limitation on the right to strike has also been proposed. Again workers have Cyril “McBuffalo” to thank for trampling on their democratic right to withdraw their labour. He colluded with yellow trade union federations like COSATU, FEDUSA and NACTU to make it harder for workers to go on strike when fighting against the exploitation of the bosses.

‘We remain very resolute that the right to strike is constitutional. We will reject this attempt to undermine our rights in the streets and we will challenge it in the court of law as it attacks workers’ right to strike by a government which has refused and failed to introduce a National Minimum Wage that delivers a living wage in the best interest of the South African working class and their families.’