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NEHAWU response to the 2019 State of the Nation Address
8 February 2019
The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union [NEHAWU] notes the tabling of the State of the Nation Address by the President of the Republic of South Africa, the Honourable Cyril Ramaphosa on the 7th February 2019 in Parliament.
This SONA was tabled in a context of deepening social inequality, poverty, unemployment, and low levels of growth which militates against the quest to create a developmental state that intervenes in the economy on behalf of the poor and the downtrodden.
The economy is still shedding more jobs in most of the labour intensive sectors of the economy like mining, agriculture, textile and manufacturing. State Owned Enterprises are in a state of collapse, the primitive accumulators have weakened critical state institutions, and law enforcement agencies have not acted in the manner that will restore public confidence.
The national union support the following tasks as outlined by the President in SONA:
- Accelerated inclusive economic growth and job creation.
- The need improve the education system and develop the skills that we need now and into the future.
- The quest to improve the conditions of life for all South Africans, especially the poor, and the fight against corruption and state capture.
- The need to strengthen the capacity of the state to address the needs of the people. We would work side by side with the democratic government to fulfil these urgent national tasks.
Jobs and Health Presidential Summits
We are extremely disappointed by the failure of the President to outline clear measures that are geared towards delivering state-led broad-based industrialisation, innovation and investment led job creating strategy.
We support the quest to fill critical vacancies in the public service and boost the capacity of the state, but we are deeply concerned by the speed and pace that this is being done, we plead for more urgency in filling vacant posts in the public service in line with the jobs summit outcomes.
The President pronouncements on NHI in SONA are progressive and in line with the outcomes of the Health Summit. NEHAWU will work hand in hand with all progressive forces for the ultimate realisation of the National Health Insurance [NHI] as a fruit of our revolution and a gift for generations to come.
The 275 000 jobs that would be created as an outcome of the jobs summit are welcomed but are below our expectations. In this regard, we demand a moratorium on retrenchments and an end to investment strike by domestic capital.
On State-Owned Enterprises
We welcome the great work that is being done in fixing our ailing SOE's, we are deeply offended by the way the Minister of Energy is handling the prevailing situation in NECSA. NEHAWU strongly rejects any attempts to unbundle ESKOM from a vertically integrated state entity into three separate companies as we fought this in the late 90's and will multiply our efforts against this agenda again.
We call upon the President to consult widely with the trade union movement in the energy sector to find long lasting solutions to the crisis engulfing ESKOM, and avoid short-termism which may lead to more crisis. We reject the dismemberment of ESKOM, our view is that it must remain a vertically integrated utility. This is not a new idea, originally it was proposed as part of creating a deregulated market for private suppliers to dominate in generation. It's not solutions, our government must address the irrational subsidization of the private IPPs by ESKOM.
ESKOM must be supported to play a key role in the renewable generation space, rather than increasingly leaving the supply for our critical base load to private IPPs. We welcome Total announcements regarding gas, etc. however, we condemn the fact that the state owned PetroSA is not leading and nowhere in this exploration, which would have helped to provide the state real stake in the exploitation of the country's natural wealth.
We are deeply concerned that those who have looted state-owned enterprises are not behind bars and no money has been recovered from them. We therefore call on all law enforcement agencies to do their work and apprehend those found to be on the wrong side of the law. We also welcome the attempts to restore confidence to our state security agencies.
NEHAWU will be joining millions of workers in South Africa under the banner of the mighty COSATU on the 13th February 2019 in defence of jobs against retrenchments and job losses and privatization, and neoliberal capitalist agenda. We call on all our members, workers and society at large to join the march.
Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat
Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968; December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969; Khaya Xaba (NEHAWU Media Liaison Officer) at 082 455 2500 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org Visit NEHAWU website: www.nehawu.org.za