Happy 108th Anniversary to the African National Congress

The Congress of South African Trade Unions wishes the African National Congress a happy 108th Anniversary. We congratulate the ANC for reaching this milestone and we hope that there will many more to come. This anniversary comes after eight years since the 53rd ANC Mangaung Conference first dealt with the acute symptoms of organisational degeneration that were already evident. Mangaung adopted a framework for the Cadre Policy in the context of the declaration of the Decade of the Cadre – in which there would be a focus on the ideological, political, academic and moral training of a critical mass of ANC members.

Amongst others, this included the framework for the Organisational Renewal, principles for cadre deployment and the rollout of the ANC’s comprehensive political school system. We hope that the ANC NEC will reflect on the progress or lack thereof to deliver on this mandate by the Mangaung Conference. This remains critical if the ANC is to continue to provide leadership to the Alliance and society.

As a leader of society, the ANC needs to be at the forefront of fighting the scourge of racism and the demons of tribalism, sexism and gender-based violence inside and outside the movement.

The ANC NEC needs to tackle the lack of capacity in the state and come out with interventions to ensure that going forward it creates an activist government that will deliver on the promise of uniting the nation, growing the economy and creating jobs.

There is an urgent need to address the lack of shared perspective within the Alliance around “radical economic transformation” that underpins this second phase of our revolution.  The ANC, even though it adopted this position at its 53rd National Conference in Mangaung, has not moved an inch to provide a clear position on this matter. 

We expect the ANC NEC to come out with urgent solutions to address the scourge of poverty and degradation that exist side by side with lavish wealth. The upcoming January 08 celebrations over the weekend should not be used as a motivational seminar but should articulate solutions on how to kickstart the economy and accelerate economic transformation.

Development is not haphazard and spontaneous; it cannot be left to chance or the greed of few exploiters. The ANC has committed itself that the industrial policy action plan would guide the reindustrialization and decent work would be the primary focus of economic policy. The ANC needs to assess whether this is happening and if not come out with urgent interventions and not promises.

This also goes for the ANC government’s commitment to building a developmental state in the face of collapsing SOEs and the weakening of the public service through austerity measures, including retrenchments. On the SOEs, the federation hopes to hear about solid solutions that will ensure that SOEs are an asset to the state not a burden. These entities are supposed to improve the lives of the people by improving the delivery of services and not take money from the taxpayers.

The debate around SOEs should answer the question of the role of the state in the economy. COSATU wants the state to play a significant role in the economy, including some state ownership of the means of production and the provision of basic needs.

There is no country in the world that has managed to develop itself and its economy without properly utilising SOEs.The Fiscal pressures and the desire to relieve the debt burden should not automatically be equated with a process of downsizing, putting these entities on a pure business footing, and treating them in many respects as equivalent to private-sector corporations.

For us, privatisation is out of the question because it will not redistribute wealth in an equitable way but will enable those who already have wealth, who are mostly white, to acquire more wealth and will leave those who are currently poor, who are mostly black, at the bottom of the social structure.

COSATU remains concerned that the restructuring of public enterprises threatens to result in large scale job losses. If this happens, it will create serious tensions between COSATU and the ANC government. We want to make it clear to the ANC NEC and President Cyril Ramaphosa that our support is conditional. We voted for the manifesto and if it is abandoned or watered down; there will be problems and workers will fight back.

The last couple of years have seen an increase in Income tax and VAT and this has resulted in lower-income households struggling to survive. COSATU demands to see greater transparency and more debate before the budget is presented. The budget should be progressive and should be judged by the extent to which it moves the tax burden away from the poor to the rich

The ANC government is currently engaged in contradictory or mutually opposed efforts in which there is continuity with the Neoliberal agenda in the state on the one hand, whilst at the same time, there is talk of building the developmental state in line with the manifesto commitments.

The ANC also needs to regain its lost fortitude by doing away with the e-toll system, stop corruption by prosecuting those implicated and ensuring that on the 4th Industrial Revolution, a just transition takes place and that workers and their communities are not left behind.

We demand to see the vigour and political appetite to investigate and prosecute those who are implicated in corruption from the state. The only acceptable place for criminals is a prison and the ANC and its government need to deliver on this priority.

The ANC and its government need to also defend the NHI from those who want to sabotage it. We demand more action on resolving the land question because many farmworkers and poor communities, who remain landless, are being denied an opportunity to participate meaningfully in the economy. The time for action is now!

Long live the ANC, Long live

Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)

Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080

Cell: 060 975 679