The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) wishes the African National Congress (ANC) a successful National Policy Conference this coming weekend starting Friday. This Conference presents the ANC with another opportunity to reflect and do an introspection and also rekindle its dedication to continue serving the people of South Africa.
This Policy Conference arrives at a very difficult time for the country with the nation and its economy buckling under the weight of inflation, loadshedding and soaring crime levels. There is an intense class struggle over the overall ideological direction of the ANC-led liberation movement. In contesting this space, capital is unleashing the most vicious, reactionary, and predatory attacks on the rights and gains of the working people of this country.
We have noted that there is a growing and sustained attack on collective bargaining, including by the employers in the state. Therefore, the Federation goes to the ANC Conference to not just to sharply raise these issues but to ensure that there is a strong working-class voice and bias both inside the ANC, and in the policies espoused within the second radical phase of the national democratic revolution and implemented by government.
We want to ensure that in exercising leadership of the national democratic revolution, our national liberation movement, the ANC continues to enjoy the principled support of the majority of the working class. It must be influenced to appreciate the decisive nature of the working class and the centrality of their role in the national democratic revolution.
The 54th Nasrec Conference of the ANC adopted radical resolutions intended to fundamentally transform the lives of South Africans. But five years after that Conference, the unemployment rate is sitting at 45% and we remain the most unequal country in the word according to the World Bank.
Despite a clear commitment to addressing the historical injustice of land dispossessions, the majority of South Africans remain landless. The demon of racism and sexism still haunts the nation despite the clear commitment by the commitment to work on building non-racialism and non-sexism. Our communities are still riddled with alcohol and drug abuse and gender-based violence.
The recent crime statistics showed that crime in South Africa is rising in all categories. The Federation believes that austerity cuts have contributed to this deterioration is the safety of the country. Since the 2017 Nasrec Conference, the SAPS headcount has declined from over 192 000 to 172 000. The budget cuts have left the SAPS with broken vehicles, antiquated computers, a forensic backlog, and a firearms registry riddled with corruption.
The Federation convened a one-day Special Central Executive Committee meeting yesterday, to consolidate its preparations for COSATU’s upcoming 14th National Congress in September, and also prepare for the ANC’s Policy Conference.
In our view, the ANC Policy documents do not contain any groundbreaking new proposals but contain and repeat many of the organisation’s previous policy positions. These previous policy position have the support of the Federation.
The concerning part of the is that these policy documents are silent on the implementation of previous policies. They fail to reflect on what government has done since the last congress and they do not account for the real crisis in governance, and the state’s lack of will or capacity to implement these policies. This issue needs to be addressed urgently.
The documents do acknowledge lumpen elements that have put the ANC in real danger of collapse but fail to acknowledge that, in fact, there are rampant criminals at all levels of the ANC, including its leadership. We want to hear a more assertive and bold call for the expulsion and prosecution of these elements.
It also calls for better public representatives but does not unpack how this will be done. It correctly calls for skilled public representatives but does not spell out what are these skills, what qualifications should be required, if any, and how to determine these. These are some of the key things that will be our focus during discussions.
We want a pro-working-class ANC that does not waiver when it comes to defending worker’s rights and that is committed to eliminating the legacy of apartheid colonialism. This means that an ANC government should stop the Neoliberal macroeconomic policies that undermine industrialisation and job-creation. It should stop the retrenchments, outsourcing and casualisation in the state, including lifting the freezing of public service posts.
This calls for an assertive and people-centred approach leadership that will ensure that those deployed in government commit to a shared vision and goals for the organization. Commitment, honesty, integrity, and humility are critical in building an effective organisation and government.
Internationally, since the last ANC Conference, we have witnessed considerable changes in the international balance of power, with both some prospects for gains and simultaneous reversals. A number of progressive left Latin American projects have made some gains from Colombia, Mexico, Argentina and Bolivia, while in some BRICS countries we have seen some electoral setbacks for radical leftist anti-neoliberal parties in India and Brazil.
In Africa, although the continent is still lagging behind in the development of productive forces, average economic growth rates are considerably better than the epicentre of capitalism. The neo-colonial stranglehold over Africa is not facing any serious challenge from the political leadership in place, which still lacks a coherent strategic plan to deal with its challenges.
The African continent is a platform for all sorts of hybrid conflicts. Several parts of the continent, from Libya to Somalia are still reeling from the effects of western sponsored regime change, civil war, anarchy and destabilisation. There’s a significant presence of non-African foreign militaries. Drone bases, logistics hubs, and other, covert warfare-facilitating outposts are pervasive. Both the US and France are the two most dominant foreign militaries operating extensively in Africa. The ANC Conference needs to reflect on this and the implications for the continent going forward.
Our hope for the Policy Conference is that it should represent a turning point in the renewal of the ANC and in tackling and reversing the negative tendencies that have eroded the political integrity and moral standing of the ANC among the people. This meeting should reaffirm the core values and principles of the ANC like unity, selflessness, sacrifice, collective leadership, humility, honesty, discipline, hard-work, internal debates, constructive criticism, and self-criticism.
We need to see a renewed and rejuvenated ANC emerge. This includes an ANC which pays its employees their salaries in full and on time. COSATU affirms its solidarity with ANC employees who have gone through painful hardships over the past few years. The Federation will be raising their plight with the leadership of the ANC and seek to ensure these workers are paid what is legally due to them.
We wish all ANC Policy Conference delegates successful and productive deliberations.
Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 010 219 1339
Cell: 060 975 6794