COSATU Free State is disappointed by the ANC Lejweleputswa Regional Executive Committee’s recent utterances

20 October 2023

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) in the Free State is dismayed by the unwarranted attack by the ANC Lejweleputswa Regional Executive Committee(REC). Recently the REC released a media statement which contained baseless, uniformed accusations and misleading utterances directed at COSATU’s march to Matjhabeng Municipality.

Logically it would have made sense had the REC provided progress on the issues raised with them months ago. COSATU recalls fully well that the REC cried foul pointing out the executive mayor’s defiance.

The decision to march to Matjhabeng Municipality was a resolution taken by the COSATU Free State Provincial Executive Committee, which was endorsed by the COSATU Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting. By implication, the march was and remains a directive of the CEC. Any attack on that decision implies an attack on the Federation nationally.

COSATU Free State wishes to put it on record that Comrade Solly Phetoe is the current serving General Secretary of the Federation elected by the properly constituted 14th COSATU National Congress. He represents the interests of COSATU members and in his speech at the march, did not represent his personal interests. We are unsure whether the wrong position associated with COSATU GS was out of ignorance or was deliberately constructed to undermine the Federation. We condemn the isolation of our General Secretary from the collective.

As a matter of fact, we would like to make it clear as the Federation that both the Premier of the Free State and the Matjhabeng Executive Mayor have undermined the workers. We have written letters to the Premier proposing meetings. Additionally, texts were sent directly to his personal mobile. Invitations to our 5th Provincial Congress and three marches were also sent to him. None of these were honoured. Furthermore, the mayor snubbed a request to join the COSATU Free State PEC meeting to share his vision for the province.

Since his term in the office, he has honoured only two engagements-the door-to-door mobilisation in Trompsburg towards 2022 Workers Commemoration and the invite to the political commission in June 2023. His behaviour constitutes disrespect to the workers which we will condemn at any platform.

The Executive Mayor of Matjhabeng refused to receive the memorandum of the workers in September 2023 whilst he was present in his office. He did this in full view of the ANC officials who were in the municipal office preparing for the Provincial Manifesto review. If and when a deployee of the ANC in the state refuses to respect workers, we will call them out without fear because we represent the interests of our members!

As the Federation we acknowledge fully well that political consciousness neither develops homogenously or by osmosis. We therefore understand why it may be difficult for some of us to differentiate between the Movement which is our Alliance partner and the government who is our employer. The Lejweleputswa ANC REC Leadership should be able to differentiate between the movement and the state, the former is our Alliance partner, but the latter is our employer. We would do to any employer as they act against our members regardless of their backgrounds! That right we fought for in 1995-1996 whilst the constitution was being developed, it was not a gift!

The REC should clarify whether it was part of their mandate to suspend the SAMWU leadership in the municipality, as we know for the fact that some individuals in the movement are thrilled about the Municipal System Act Amendments which seeks to purge our members from the ANC structures, and we need to know if this is part of that broader plan.  

As a matter of principle, the federation does not engage in name calling and insults to people and comrades who hold a different view to ours. We have characterised that as being exactly like wrestling with the pig in the mud, and we refuse to take the name calling and insults challenge!

We reject the call by the Lejweleputswa REC to divide the workers and its persuasion of those they perceive as loyal to them to the detriment of the workers struggle to rise against the Federation leadership. This is stooping too low. Even at the height of the divisions of the ANC in the province, the Federation has never reached that level of exploiting the divisions. Instead, it has always preached unity and cohesion and we are content with our contribution to what our Alliance partner has achieved thus far.

We hope and believe that the ANC would give attention to the issues raised by the workers through their memoranda and will not fall into the trap of protecting individuals at the cost of the masses. We also hope that the movement has learned a lesson in Metsimaholo and subsequently in Maluti-A-Phofung.

We would like the movement to make their pronouncement on the harassment, exploitation, name calling and slavery of workers by Matjhabeng Executive Mayor. As the Federation we stand opposed to that, any worker deserves protection despite the nature of their contract of employment. All workers go out to sell their labour for compensation and no contract of employment can reduce any worker to less of a human or less of a worker! We stand for the universal rights of workers!

We have given the Provincial Government fourteen days to respond to our memorandum and if such does not happen, we would be knocking on the door of national government to solicit a response.

The struggle continues!

Issued by COSATU Free State

For more information, please contact:

Monyatso oa Mahlatsi(COSATU Free State Provincial Secretary)
Tel:051 447 5499
Cell: 076 115 9923