We have decided to convene this joint press briefing to reflect on a number of critical matters in this province.
The South African Communist Party, SACP and Congress of South African Trade Unions, COSATU had a very successful bilateral meeting, which was characterized by robust engagements.
This meeting followed a meeting between COSATU and the South African Municipal Workers Union ( SAMWU) which discussed the continued plight facing workers who were dismissed in mass numbers in Newcastle and Ugu municipalities. As things stand, there is uncertainty about the reinstatement of these workers, while everyone grand stands about the need for these workers to be reinstated.
These meetings further discussed challenges in other municipalities, the worrying state of the economy and that of our alliance.
At the centre of this discussion was also the terrible state of our municipalities which was informed by the Auditor General’s report on the handling of municipal finances.
Many municipalities displayed severe deterioration in good governance and financial management that resulted in severe depletion of the municipal resources.
Dismissed Workers in Newcastle, Ugu, King Cetshwayo and other municipalities are victims of Political Factionalism
About 400 workers at Newcastle and Ugu municipalities alone have been lingering at home for more than three years now because of narrow political factionalism. This is an untenable situation for workers and the poor people of these municipalities, in particular in the ANC led municipalities, all the three parties were resolute that decisive action must be taken to address this plight.
We demand the Newcastle, Ugu, King Cetshwayo, COGTA and provincial government to come out clearly on their political agenda against these workers.
This matter has been unnecessarily delayed by the politicians, and as these three organizations we have resolved to give the MEC of COGTA, Mr. S. Hlomuka, the end of this month to reinstate these workers. Failing which as these three organizations we shall embark on a rolling mass-action with the affected workers, their families and the public to organize pickets, marches and sit-ins at COGTA offices until these workers are reinstated.
Preparations for the 2024 elections
The performance of the ANC, as a governing party here in KZN, the 10% drop in the provincial elections and a 16% drop in municipal elections.
For instance, in 2014, the ANC recorded 65.31% in the provincial elections and 55.47% in 2019. During the local government elections, the ANC recorded 57.48% in 2016 and scored a reduction of 41.44% last year November. In 2016 the ANC had 995 council seats, and this has been reduced to 742 having lost 253 seats.
These are signs that we need to close the social distance and reconnect with the masses in the ground.
It should be noted that we experienced several challenges on the local government front. The federation of the workers and the vanguard party will join hands with the people on the ground to fight against these slaveries as part of the advancement of a better life for all.
Collapse of Local Government and Self-serving interests by deployed political leaders:
Regrettably, we are alive to the reality that self-serving interests and narrow political agendas have resulted in the collapse of local government. We have seen leaders elevating their interests above service delivery.
We need to condemn what we are seeing in municipalities such as Umkhanyakude District Municipality.
We have seen reports of rampant fraud and corruption in Zululand District Municipality.
The local government sphere of government remains critical in terms of the rollout of the Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan.
But unfortunately, poor corporate governance and financial mismanagement remains a major hurdle towards recovery.
Of particular concern are the high levels of irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
We remain concerned about the negative economic conditions which have imposed hardships on millions of people throughout the corners of the province.
The ongoing increase of fuel prices and rising food prices have heightened the public’s fears and anxiety.
There is a strong possibility that the confidence in the government of the day will be undermined if nothing drastic is done.
It should be remembered that the greatest negative impact of COVID-19 was the closure of industries and massive job losses that condemned many people into a spiral of poverty as they were retrenched and condemned to rural villages and peri-urban informal settlements with no means of survival.
Economic challenges on children
In the face of severe economic conditions, we are extremely worried about the future of our children. Child poverty is still more prevalent, deeper and more severe in rural areas of KZN.
Nearly two-thirds of children identified as poor live in rural areas. Its rural face is the most prominent feature of child poverty in South Africa, and this especially applies when the depth and severity of poverty are considered: the rural poor are further below this poverty line than the urban poor, and the share of the rural child poverty headcount thus rises as the poverty line is set lower.
The broad principles that should govern the response of the ANC-government to the economic challenges should include avoiding the risk of unfairly placing the burden of the downturn on the poor and vulnerable.
Economic Challenges on Civil Servants (debts)
We are also worried about the impact of economic challenges on workers and especially civil servants who are responsible for service delivery.
Most of our members, who are civil servants across all government departments, some in municipalities are drowning in debt. This is evidenced by garnishee orders, being deducted from their salaries each month.
Civil servants that are in debts are unproductive and are always absent at work and this affects service delivery.
It is unfortunate that rising fuel and food prices do no equal increases of salaries of workers. We are calling upon the ANC as a governing party to have a clear programme of action on how to deal with these challenges.
The meeting resolved to further wage a solidarity programme with the striking workers of SARS, Orange Grove and others.
On the political situation that we find ourselves under, the prevailing conditions are because of the two antagonistic and irreconcilable classes. The rise in gender-based violence, and the continuous unabated racism is but one example of a difficult political situation we find ourselves in.
As we wish the ANC a successful Provincial Conference, we remain worried about the fact that while society is confronted by so many challenges, but at the same time there is poor coordination and the lack of regularity of meetings involving the ANC and alliance partners. Our main concern is that the Alliance meetings have been infrequent and ad hoc.
This has contributed to unsatisfactory management of Alliance issues.
We hope that the forthcoming conference will look at the issues of how best the functionality of the Alliance can be improved, and ensure that the Alliance meets in a structured manner as:
· the Alliance Secretariat,
· the Alliance Political Council and then
· the Alliance Summit.
The dysfunctionality of the alliance structures in the province impedes the Alliance to collectively intervene in these challenges, hence the call for national leadership of the Alliance to develop a programme to assist the province.
We also pin our hope that our ally will engage on decisive government interventions to rescue our people from these burdens.
However, it is quite concerning that in the midst of all these challenges, our leader of the Alliance seems to be more overwhelmed with the question of lobbying for specific positions. The use of state organs in the battle for leadership positions is also condemned. These have taken precedents over matters of policy.
Political Killings in KwaZulu-Natal
The last issue we want to address is around Political Killings in KwaZulu-Natal.
As partners of the Alliance, we remain extremely worried about the failure of the ANC-led government in KZN and the ANC leadership in particular to deal decisively with political violence.
Murders emanating from political violence weighed heavily in KwaZulu-Natal than any other parts of South Africa.
As the people of this Province, we also demand answers from the security cluster on the mass killings that are taking place in the province and in our country.
We firmly believe that as the alliance, we should have been briefed about the progress in dealing with political related violence. Ahead of local government elections, as we witnessed an increase in the number of political related killings.
We thank you
Issued by COSATU KZN, SAMWU KZN and SACP Moses Mabhida province. For more information, please contact the following:
SACP Provincial Secretary
KZN Provincial Secretary
082 399 7756
SAMWU Provincial Secretary
083 375 9560