COSATU response to the ANC NEC’s 109th Anniversary message delivered by President Ramaphosa

 The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has noted and largely welcomes the ANC NEC’s 109th Anniversary message delivered by the President of the country and the ANC Cde Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa. We agree and endorse the overall thrust of the message and we expect it to form the core mandate for the ANC government this year.

 The upcoming State of the Nation Address and the National Treasury’s budget speech should speak to the identified priorities. We hope that rest of the government will move to implement these progressive commitments and priorities.

 Workers and the public are rapidly losing patience, and this is the moment for the ANC to redeem itself and lead during these difficult and uncertain times.

 We agree that overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic and expediting the process of rolling out the vaccine should be prioritised so that we can save lives and the economy. All spheres of government should improve their levels of service and tackling maladministration and corruption is paramount.

The ANC needs to set timeframes on the introduction of the NHI and fast track the land reform programme. As a country, we cannot lose the fight against gender-based violence and the introduction of a basic income grant is long overdue. 

At face value, the ANC NEC message contains many important points and progressive commitments. However, it does not say how these will be implemented. It does not spell out how the cancer of corruption that is eating at the heart of the ANC and the state will be uprooted. Expressing anger at corruption will only be taken seriously when those who loot are taken to jail and their stolen assets returned.

 It is pointless to say that leaders who bring the ANC into disrepute will be suspended when the NEC, PEC, and REC members are refusing to do exactly that. The lack of discipline across the organisation remains a problem that cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet.

 The statement does not express the reality of the pain workers are experiencing with the collapse of the public services, SOEs, and municipalities. It does not acknowledge that workers are losing jobs in collapsing SOEs and the country itself is teetering on the brink because of this problem.

 Dealing with the SOEs is an urgent matter and the ANC needs to explain what does transforming them means because its government seems to think that it means privatising them. What is happening with SAA, SABC, Metro Rail, Transnet, DENEL, and other SOEs is unsustainable.

 The statement acknowledged that many municipalities lack a sustainable rates base but fall short of saying what will be done to ensure the sustainability of municipalities and their transformation from being obstacles to facilitators of economic growth.

 The speech is dishonest when it speaks to socioeconomic relief measures during the current lockdown, these measures like the UIF TERS Fund were unilaterally shut down by the ANC government and this needs to be sorted out.

 There is a disconnect between the positive platitudes in the statement and the austerity first approach of the National Treasury. The ANC cannot talk about building a developmental state when the public sector is being strangled by the voluntary austerity measures of this administration. Workers hope that 2021 will mark a break with the past and rebuilding of a capacitated developmental state.

 It is fine for the ANC to acknowledge its support for COSATU, yet it rings hollow when the National Treasury is destroying collective bargaining in the public service and the ANC is saying nothing about that. COSATU is about workers and their livelihoods. The best way to support the federation is to act on matters that impact workers and work to change their lives and working conditions.

 COSATU is particularly concerned with the key government department’s commitment to the implementation of many of the critical and progressive Economic Recovery and Reconstruction Plan commitments.  Some of the targets have been there for years but have seen little action by the government to ensure their implementation. 

 The ANC needs to prove that it is still a bulwark against racism and white supremacy. The best way to do this is to pursue economic transformation. Economic inequality feeds racism and white supremacy.

 The actions of its previous administrations have undermined its mandate to be a champion of anti-racism and at times rendered it in fact a guarantor of racism because it has acted as a full partner in the class project.

 Decisive action is needed to stop the rampant corporate pillaging of the state resources, including the outsourcing of policy formulation to the private sector. We demand to see an urgent introduction of thorough economic transformation measures to tackle the inequalities mentioned in the statement.

 COSATU remains a committed partner towards ensuring the implementation of the ANC’s 2019 electoral manifesto that was endorsed by the electorate.  Goals are dreams with deadlines and the ball is in the hands of the ANC leadership at all levels to deliver for the people. 

Issued by COSATU

Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)

Tel: 011 339 4911

Fax: 011 339 5080

Cell: 060 975 6794