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Central Exec  |  COSATU Press Statements

COSATU CEC Statement - 24-26 November 2008

27-11-08

The Central Executive Committee of the Congress of South African Trade Unions held a scheduled meeting on 24-26 November 2008. It was attended by the National Office bearers, representatives of all 21 affiliates and nine provinces. Among the many issues di scussed were:

Political situation

The CEC discussed the following four main issues as we move towards the 2009 elections:

(a) The Alliance Summits

(b) The Shikota breakaway party

(c) Coherence of the ANC,

(d) The role of the media,

(e) Challenges around service delivery

(f) Preparations for the 2009 elections

(g) The manifesto and list processes

The CEC agreed, as the starting point for its position:

 

  • That COSATU must remain strong, united and independent, a campaigning and fighting Federation that is the voice of the most marginalised and the conscience of our young democracy
  • To ensure that all the ANC`s policy shifts, at Polokwane, the Alliance Summits and the Alliance Secretariat meetings are translated into government programmes. As long as resolutions remain on paper they are tentative and can be reversed.

Alliance Economic Summit

The meeting reviewed the historic Alliance Economic Summit on 17-18 October 2008, whose declaration reflected a clear move to the left. It was summed up by Jacob Zuma, who said: "The key strategic developmental priorities are the creation of decent jobs an d sustainable livelihoods; the transformation of or health and education systems; the overhaul of the criminal justice system and a concrete programme of agrarian reform and rural development."

The new breakaway party

The meeting agreed that the attempt to split the ANC and create a new party - and a new trade union federation to counter COSATU - must be understood as a class act to undermine not only the ANC and COSATU but the national democratic revolution (NDR). It i s a deliberate and longstanding plan - often called `the 1996 class project` - by a section of the former leadership to transform the ANC from being a broad liberation movement with a bias towards the working class and the poor into a neo liberal, centre-l eft bourgeois narrow electoral political party.

The1996 Class project`s policies included a refusal to transform the economy or confront the power of monopoly white capital, the unilateral introduction of GEAR, the privatisation and commodification programmes, the marginalisation of the Alliance and the ANC, the attempt to restructure the ANC and make it a "modern political party" of the elite, the demobilisation of the mass movement including ANC members, reducing them into spectators and voting cattle.

It was pursued by the core of the people who are now mobilising for a new political party, a war against the working class by what is clearly the capitalist class pursuing a historic mission to weaken the working class, divide it, blunt its weapons and mak e it a conveyor belt for the interests of capital and accumulation.

It is no accident that there is an agenda to use discredited former trade unionists to penetrate, divide and weaken a revolutionary Federation such as COSATU. Any person who wants to divert the NDR and defeat the ANC must start by weakening and dividing CO SATU, which they have identified as the pillar behind the strength of the ANC, the most organised formation of the Alliance with organised presence everywhere in the country - a strategic target for all who seek to weaken and destroy the ANC and the NDR.

The CEC agreed that we should not be concerned about whether attempts to break up our unity and create an alternative federation will succeed or not. We all know it is an impossible task which can never happen. What we should be concerned about is the pote ntial for violence and the disruptive consequences.

COSATU is producing a booklet which will unpack the class agenda and the class forces behind the efforts weaken the ANC and COSATU and why COSATU believes that the key challenge facing the working class is to defend the Polokwane resolutions and outcomes.

 

ANC post-Polokwane

The contestation around the meaning of the Polokwane resolutions within the ANC points to the correctness of the February CEC`s cautious optimism. We have already done our bit to ensure that these victories are claimed, defended, deepened and sustained, be cause if progressive cadres do not champion these progressive policies and get them implemented they will become empty victories.

We are participating in all the ANC NEC sub committees and the manifesto processes, which culminate in the Manifesto Conference on 29 November-1 December 2008 and the list process. (see below)

Coherence of the ANC and communications strategy

COSATU has been concerned about the impression created in the media that the ANC is sending out uncoordinated or even contradictory media messages. The meeting noted that the media was hostile to the Alliance and was openly biased towards the breakaway dis sidents but agreed that this should not deter the federation and the Alliance from engaging with the public discourse, with a clear, unite message, though it should increasingly rely on its internal communications and sympathetic community radio stations.

 

COSATU and affiliates have held shop steward council meetings all over the country, addressed by the ANC President and COSATU leaders, which have been extremely well attended. They have, among other things, helped to dispel the notion that COSATU was only focusing on politics at the expense of its core business as a trade union movement which must exclusively focus in the workplace. In this regard COSATU will go out and report about its own record of success and campaigns, which speak for itself where it ha s led the workers struggles in different issues affecting workers directly in the workplace and in the economy.

An Alliance task team has been set up to develop a more coherent media message, based on the slogan "One message, many messengers`. The CEC agreed that the Alliance should avoid at all costs trading insults with the dissidents and communicating in a way th at puts us on the defensive.

Affiliated unions agreed to revive their recruitment campaign and vigorously implement the 2015 Plan including the call on workers to swell the ranks of the ANC.

COSATU is urging the ANC to fast track the President`s signing of the Broadcasting Amendment Bill so that the current unrepresentative SABC Board can be removed without any further delays before they can unleash irreversible damage to the ANC and the NDR.

 

Service delivery

It was noted that workers in many localities are sharply raising the issue of poor service delivery by many local governments. COSATU provinces are identifying areas where there are service delivery challenges and will request government to intervene throu gh relevant ministers.

COSATU will also expose the underlying structural causes of poor service delivery to illustrate the need for a developmental state with the capacity and resources to provide a more effective support to local government. Many of the people in the Shikota br eakaway are among those who have refused to implement more expansionary budgets that would have addressed the challenge of service delivery at the less resourced municipalities, yet are hypocritically exploiting these grievances.

Preparing for the 2009 elections

COSATU and the affiliates are participating in the ANC NEC Elections Committee, policy sub-committees and the Manifesto Committee. We are creating a war room and an elections office to be manned by volunteers from the affiliates. Affiliates are to release coordinators to work full time on elections campaign to begin work immediately.

Manifesto

COSATU will be participating in the ANC Manifesto Conference and has submitted a draft response to the latest draft of the ANC manifesto, which attempts to capture the shifts made in and since Polokwane. COSATU will measure the manifesto in terms of three basic issues:

a) Does it consolidate the tentative shifts since 2000?

b) Does it capture the Polokwane resolutions, the January 8 Statement and Alliance Summit declarations?

c) Are its priorities consistent with COSATU`s economic and social transformation demands?

d) How does it accelerate and intensify the pace to achieve the 2014 targets of growth, employment and poverty reduction?

The core message is that, if democracy is to have meaning to majority of our people the manifesto needs to address the underlying structural problems of South African society: unemployment, poverty and inequality.

In addition the manifesto must:

 

  • Incorporate measures to stimulate the economy, including as a reduction in interest rates to avert a massive slow down and avert/minimise job losses, cushion the poor from the economic downturn, cushion homeowners from the adverse effects of high interes t rates, and address high food prices.
  • Clearly articulate the role of a developmental state and how to build it, the investment it should make to support transformation and how it will interact with private capital.
  • Contain a message for the employed, including casual and sub-contracted labour, a commitment to proper enforcement of labour laws and support for unionisation of all workers, and a programme for equity and skills development in the work place.
  • Include an integrated and comprehensive poverty reduction strategy, including for those not covered by any form of social security at the moment - essentially able-bodied unemployed adults and children between 15 and 18. Increasing the child support gran t to children of 18 years is an important step.
  • Articulate a comprehensive rural development programme, to create access to arable land, infrastructure, skills development, and access to markets. It must stipulate how the state will speed up land redistribution including through increasing the budget and expropriation.

List process

The CEC agreed that COSATU must be represented on the ANC National List Committee that will manage this process and produce a list within the criteria the ANC has set. The meeting endorsed proposals from the CEC Political Commission on the following criter ia that should guide COSATU`s engagement with this process:

1) The need to strengthen the ANC government. This forms part of the political challenge decided by the February CEC to defend the gains of Polokwane and to walk through the opened doors. That government must be effective and efficient constituted by cadre s loyal to the Polokwane resolutions.

2) Deployment of COSATU should not lead to the weakening of COSATU and or any of its affiliated unions. The independence of COSATU is not negotiable and must be guarded at all times.

3) We must learn from the experience of previous deployments. We must ensure that we are able to keep all deployed cadres accountable and with the right of COSATU and the ANC to exercise recall if deployed cadres stray from the mandate.

4) The need to ensure an overall progressive orientation of the list.

5) The need for a representative list that will in particular avoid the mistakes of the past wherein all NEC members were deployed in the executive and parliament. This made it impossible for the NEC to hold the executive objectively to account. The demogr aphics of society, including in class terms, must be represented in the list.

6) As part of the deliberate political strategy to avoid mistakes of the past we must avoid a conflict of interest. Peoples` representatives should not be at the same time be employers of workers.

The CEC agreed that affiliates should urgently submit the names of candidates who meet these criteria to the CEC Political Commission.

Prevention, treatment and testing for HIV

In the run-up to World Aids Day on Monday 1 December 2008, the CEC members took time out of the meeting to demonstrate their commitment to the campaign to raise awareness of the importance of voluntary testing for HIV by submitting themselves for testing d uring the meeting, and the overwhelming majority participated.

The CEC endorsed the plan for COSATU, with the Treatment Action Campaign, Love Life, the SA National Aids Council, business and the rest of civil society, to hold a 30-minute national work stoppage at mid-day on Monday 1 December to allow the country to ha ve a 30-minute dialogue to talk about HIV and AIDS. It will begin with a minute of silence to remember all those we have lost to the Aids pandemic and recommit ourselves to the fight to get the prevention message across and to ensure that ARV treatment is made available for all who need it. The event will aim to:

a) Ensure that there is an intense focus on the prevention message

b) Distribute 1,5 million pamphlets through affiliates

c) Train shop stewards to be home-based care givers and counsellors

d) Distribute condoms and femidoms en masse

e) Initiate the collect a can campaign

f) Distribute the NEDLAC and ILO codes

Stop women and children abuse

The meeting endorsed COSATU`s support for the Sixteen Days of Activism against Gender Violence, the international UN-backed campaign against the appalling levels of violence inflicted on the world`s women and children, taking place from 25 November to 10 D ecember.

In South Africa every day, women and children are brutally assaulted, raped and killed. As well as the physical impact this has a massive mental and psychological impact on those affected. The campaign`s goal is the elimination of all forms of violence aga inst women and children, believing that we will never be able to claim victory in the struggle to transform society so long as women and children are being battered, harassed, intimidated and denied their constitution rights.

State of healthcare

Chairperson of the DBSA, Comrade Jay Naidoo, addressed the CEC on the challenges we face in health and education transformation and the work the DBSA has been doing on both of these important fronts.

South Africa`s health status, measured by the UN`s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) indicators, is deteriorating. Maternal mortality has increased from 230 mothers (per 100,000) dying in 2000 to 400 in 2005, with latest estimates of 575-623 deaths. The MDG target is 38. South Africa stands out internationally for the extent of the deterioration since 2000 when the MDGs were introduced.

Much of this deterioration is a result of the HIV and AIDS pandemic. 1,000 people with AIDS are dying per day (and another 1,450 people are becoming HIV infected each day). With the young and working age dying in droves, South Africa`s death statistics res emble those of a country in a terrible war.

At least 70% of the case load in the public health system is now taken up by HIV/ AIDS cases, crowding out the capacity to treat other medical conditions. Moreover, while we seem unable to treat more than half the 800,000 needing anti-retroviral treatment, that number is going to rise to 5,5 million within five years (these are people already HIV infected who will reach full-blown AIDS).

The public health system, facing this AIDS tsunami, is dysfunctional. South Africa performs worse than countries with far lower levels of per capita health expenditure. There is a disconnection between national policy and the allocation of resources, manag ement information systems are insufficient for decision-making, and decision-making powers are generally incorrectly located . There is clearly insufficient regulation of the private sector, though even this profitable sector is facing serious challenges.

 

Education sector roadmap

The second part of the input from DBSA Chairperson Jay Naidoo dealt with the crisis in education.

Quality education can create upward social mobility for children from poor families and counteract inherited class privilege. Despite many achievements post-1994, however, South Africa has not performed at the levels required. While progress has been made in access to education, the quality of education has been poor. SA comes last in international tests of numeracy and literacy, below African peer countries.

Approximately one out of 40 children who entered school in 1995 eventually matriculated with mathematics on the higher grade, and 93% of these passes came from just 21% of schools. Generally 80% of South Africa`s schools are considered dysfunctional. Lates t test results find that only 15% of grade 3 learners pass both literacy and numeracy. The result is that quality education is not a reality for most children. The prospects of quality jobs are therefore also undermined. The economy is thus unable to meet its skills agenda, with South Africa having 30 engineers per 100,000 people compared to 255 engineers in the United States.

The ANC, recognizing the pivotal role of education, resolved at its 52nd National Conference at Polokwane to put quality education at the centre of its social transformation programme for the next five years. Consistent with this, in July 2008 the DBSA had convened an education sector roadmap, jointly chaired with the Minister of Education and the ANC sub-committee on health and education.

The roadmap process has looked at the source of the education challenge including socio-economic conditions, insufficient teacher subject knowledge, poor school management and indiscipline, a lack of financial resources and infrastructure, and unclear resp onsibilities and accountabilities across national, provincial and districts tiers of government.

The CEC agreed to work with the DBSA on its health and education campaigns.

Health Charter and National Health insurance

The CEC has established a task team which has developed funding models for NHI and also look the case studies of other developing countries. Professor Patrick Bond was appointed to head the consultants. A task team is also working on human resource develop ment to support NHI. We are in the process of employing a person part-time, employed for two years with funding from Oxfam, to coordinate NHI implementation campaigns. We will be rolling out pamphlets and engaging in public forums to sensitise our members.

 

The ANC Subcommittee on Health and Education also established a task team on NHI. The task team comprises of Human Science Research Council, Department of Health, Medical Aid Associations, COSATU, and private hospitals. The task team has done some work. Th e ANC NEC adopted the framework and proposals from the task team on NHI.

Jobs and Poverty Campaign

The CEC noted that the current labour law regime in South Africa continues to allow for the exploitation of workers, based on precedents set by, among others, the Fry`s Metals judgment, that makes it far too easy for employers to retrench workers for `oper ational reasons`.

As the 2010 project unfolds, contractors continue to exploit construction workers, including running away with their money.

It was agreed to take this up with the LOC and relevant government officials, and that we need to tighten the labour laws to stem the tide of casualisation, outlaw labour-broking and ensure that all workers can enjoy the full protection of our labour laws.

 

Black Christmas

COSATU is urging all its members and the wider community to join the Buy South African campaign on 6-7 December 2008, when workers and consumers will be picketing at shopping malls throughout the country to educate and persuade shoppers to buy locally prod uced products.

The current global financial crisis has already resulted in a slowdown in the economy. Retrenchments have already begun, in the mines, the car industry and elsewhere. Many more employers in South Africa are threatening to lay off workers as a result of thi s downturn in the world economy, in which they are already finding it harder unable to sell their products in international markets because of this economic downturn.

One of the best ways to turn the tide, save and create jobs and reduce the cost of living is to buy local. This will help boost the domestic economy by increasing demand for locally produced goods and thus save and create jobs in the firms that manufacture them. This will be helped by falling value of the rand which will make local goods cheaper than imports here, and more competitive overseas, which will enable SA firms to offset the worldwide decline in demand.

Both workers and consumers will benefit. More workers will be employed and prices will come down - but only if we succeed in persuading us, the consumers, to buy South African and support our local economy.

Even before the latest crisis and the latest retrenchments, we saw an increase in the official rate of unemployment, from 23.1% to 23.2%, and this figure does not include workers who are no more looking for work because they have lost hope. The more realis tic figure which includes them is still well over 30%, far higher than any comparative countries.

The prices of basic foods are still very high and the fall in the value of the rand will push up the prices of all imported goods. Electricity tariffs have risen 27.5% and there is talk of a 100% increase next year! Interest rate increases have imposed hug e burdens on millions of home-owners and people have been forced to borrow money. The rate of inflation, especially food inflation, is way beyond the wage increases that most workers received this year.

As a result of all this, workers are facing a black Christmas in 2008. Even the majority of employed workers will not have enough money during this festive season to spend with their families after months of hard toil in factories and other places of work. They will not have enough to pay for their children`s education at the beginning of 2009. For the unemployed it will be a grim, miserable Christmas.

But this will only happen if local firms seize the opportunity. They must not just raise their prices to the same level as imported goods so they can make a quick profit, while consumers still have to pay high prices. They need to take advantage of the fal ling rand to expand production and keep prices down. Since they will be more competitive on both the world and domestic markets, and should be able to expand production and employ more workers.

Global economic crisis

The CEC agreed that the global economic meltdown has confirmed the correctness of Karl Marx`s theory that crises are inherent in the very functioning of the capitalist system. It is not caused by individual mistakes or the greed of a few corporate oligarch s, but the fundamentals of the capitalism system, whose rules of accumulation are inherently greedy and skewed to serve the profit desires of a few and not the social needs of the many.

This situation imposes the obligation to revisit our fundamental perspectives for building the momentum for renewed working class offensive towards socialism. The deeper the contradictions and crisis of capitalism, the more urgent is the need for a clear r esponse by the global working class and its associated forces of revolution.

The CEC studied a brief paper on the crisis from the COSATU economists` panel, which concluded that:

The current global financial crisis (or "credit crunch") has very serious potential implications that could reach way beyond the financial sector. Among other things there will be:

A sharp reduction in global growth, and possibly even a global recession; A reduction in global trade and exports; Reduced capital flows to "emerging markets".

Among other things, it agreed that the government will have a particular role to play in mitigating the negative economic effects of the crisis. In the wake of decreased global demand, state intervention will be required through the use of existing fiscal space to assist in stimulating economic activity to promote growth and employment. It is imperative that large-scale infrastructure projects - in power, transport and water infrastructure - continue to be rolled out in order to stimulate demand and employm ent creation, with increased emphasis to be placed on sourcing local content for these projects.

A particular concern remains measures to ensure that the poor and working people do not bear the burden of the economic crisis, through retrenchments, higher food prices and/or cuts in government services and grants.

Racist death threats

The CEC heard with grave concern that the COSATU NW Provincial Secretary, Solly Phetoe, has been receiving racist death threats, after being active and vocal in support of the campaign for justice for the people of Skierlik and the victims of Johan Nel`s m urderous, racist attack on the community, for which he rightly received four life sentences last Friday. The CEC also condemned similar threats against the judge.

The CEC delegates declared their solidarity with Comrade Phetoe and resolved that any attack on its Provincial Secretary, or any other COSATU or local community member, will be regarded as an attack on the entire leadership and two million members of COSAT U.

They demanded that the SAPS hunt down the perpetrators of these threats and bring them before the courts, which must then punish severely those found guilty. Racist violence has no place in a democratic South Africa and must be rooted out.

It was agreed to invite Deputy Minister for Justice, to the February 2009 CEC to report on the state of South Africa`s criminal justice system.

2009 May Day preparations

The form and theme of our May Day celebrations for 2009 will be guided by the date, manifesto and slogans of the ANC elections campaign. Venues for the 2009 May Day Rallies will include:

Eastern Cape: (National Rally), East London, ABSA Stadium Gauteng: West Rand (Westonaria, Randfontein or Mogale City) Limpopo a) Thabazimbi

b) Polokwane

c) Palaborwa

d) Tubatsie

Mpumalanga: KwaMhlanga Stadium North West: Rustenburg, Olympia Stadium Western Cape: a) Cape Town

b) Oudtshoorn

c) Vredendal

d) Worcester

Free State: a) Ficksburg

b) Brandfort

c) Heilbron

d) Koffiefontein

Northern Cape: a) Kimberley

b) De Aar

c) Springbok / Upington

KwaZulu Natal: a) Durban

b) Pietermaritzburg

c) Portshepstone

d) Newcastle

e) Dundee

f) Vryheid

g) Umzikhulu

h) Ladysmith

i) Kwa-Dukuza

j) Mkhuze

Section 77 on Food Prices

Labour has been continuing to engage through the Nedlac Section 77 Committee and the Task Team it set up.

Areas of agreement

1. Reduction in basic food prices

There is agreement on a market enquiry by a dedicated, multi-stakeholder committee to look into the value chains of basic food. A follow-up will be made with government to kick-start the process.

2. National Food Price Regulator for staple food products.

Establishment of a multi-stakeholder structure, similar to the National Electricity Advisory Council, to monitor prices and make policy recommendations. There is a need for further engagement on the modalities of establishing this structure. A task team mu st be established to deal with this matter.

3. Improvements in social grants

There is an agreement on adjusting pensions and child support grants in December backdated to October,

4. Social relief of distress grant

There is an agreement on the social relief of distress grant, which is given in instances of disasters, death of breadwinner, and whilst awaiting social grants. It lasts for 3-6 month, in the form of either cash or food parcels. Already Social Development has allocated R124 million to the provinces. The challenge is for provinces to popularize this intervention so that those in need can benefit.

5. Extension of the School Feeding Scheme

In terms of the MTBPS, allocations to provinces for school feeding scheme will be increased from R1.9 billion to R4.6 billion over a period of three years.

6. Investment in Agriculture, where there is agreement on:

1) Agricultural starter packs for emerging farmers.

2) Revitalisation of the extension services, research and development in the entire agricultural sector.

3) Post-settlement support with services and infrastructure investments.

4) Rehabilitation of abandoned rural railway lines and road infrastructure.

5) Government must reinvest additional VAT collected as a percentage of higher prices back into agriculture.

Areas of Disagreement

1) Dismissal of CEOs of companies found guilty of collusive practices and other anticompetitive conduct

2) Nationalisation of the maize-meal, bread and milk value chains

3) End to super profits and super salaries for executives

The CEC agreed to continue to engage on the outstanding matters of disagreement, clarify and quantify other proposals, monitor the progress of the Task Team and then evaluate progress at the February 2009 CEC.

Section 77 on Electricity Crisis

The discussions on Electricity Pricing Policy at Nedlac have been finalised by the Task Team. The next step is for the constituency conveners to endorse it.

The pricing policy is aimed at ensuring that the price consumer`s pay reflects the cost of electricity. A concern is that even if consumers as a whole pay the full cost of electricity, mechanisms must be specified to protect poor households.

Another task team is looking into the protocol for new electricity connections for big consumers i.e. industrial as well as commercial consumers. The first meeting was held on 11 November 2008 and the task team is expected to finalise it by the second week of December. The protocol entails criteria for approval of new applications with the view of ensuring efficient usage of electricity.

The National Treasury has agreed to defer the 2 cents levy on the usage of non-renewable sources of energy to July 2009, but there will need to be further engagement on this.

The CEC discussed how to engage moving forward. It reaffirmed the view that the R60 billion for Eskom and any future requirements should be a government grant, and come as either a loan or tariff increase. Given that Eskom`s credit rating has been downgrad ed, the CEC made a patriotic call on affiliates to consider asking their investment companies to invest in Eskom.

Comprehensive Social Security

The meeting as informed that the government has not and it is not going to release any paper on Comprehensive Social Security and Retirement Reform before the end of this year. The Inter-Ministerial Committee, consisting of the Presidency, Departments of H ealth, Social Development, National Treasury and Labour, and the Inter-Departmental Committee, could not agree on a proposed Comprehensive and Social Security and Retirement document.

The Alliance Economic Summit resolved that the STC should set up a task team to work on proposals for the alliance-led process. This task team was set up and will consider a number of specific proposals. It will report to the STC on continuous basis to mee t the June 2009 deadline for finalizing an alliance proposal on Comprehensive Social Security.

WTO negotiations

Since the collapse of the Doha Talks in July 2008, there have been frantic attempts by WTO DG Pascal Lamy to have the talks revived and finalised before the end of the year. He called an informal meeting of the WTO Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) meetin g in October 2008 and has called a mini-ministerial meeting for 10 December. The meeting came against the background of the global financial crisis.

It is worrying that developing countries are not united on what posture the talks must take in the context of global financial crisis. Although reports indicate that many developing countries, including South Africa, Bangladesh, Bolivia and Venezuela, are getting cautious on further liberalisation of trade, some developing countries like Mexico and Chile are supportive of further liberalisation.

As the unity of the developing countries is critical as a countervailing force in the WTO negotiations, we are engaging government at Nedlac to revive the unity of the NAMA11 countries, particularly to get Brazil back into the fold after it broke ranks at the July 08 mini-Ministerial and supported the proposed NAMA package.

As noted above, the Alliance Economic Summit made important pronouncements on trade, which created a sound basis for a joint alliance strategy and approach to the multilateral institutions such as the WTO.

Affiliates were urged to attend in numbers a meeting in Pretoria today, 27 November for government and civil society to discuss the way forward, and to insist that there be no further concessions on tariff cuts

Zimbabwe

On 15th September 2008, a `historic deal` was signed between the two factions of the MDC and the ZANU-PF in Zimbabwe under the stewardship of the then South African President and SADC mediator, Thabo Mbeki.

This raised hopes all over the world, particularly among the Zimbabwean people, though we continued to indicate the fragility and dangers associated with the way the process was handled, both for its legitimacy and its sustainability.

As we speak today, the deal has not yet materialised or borne fruit. The two main contenders, MDC (Tsvangirai) and ZANU-PF are not agreeing on the distribution of ministries, particularly Home Affairs, which is responsible for police and remains a thorny i ssue.

A SADC meeting with both Mugabe and Tsvangirai present was unable to resolve the deadlock. The SADC leadership proposed that the Home Affairs Ministry rotate between the two factions of the MDC and ZANU. This appeared to diverge from the original agreement that the MDC would control the Ministry by itself. The MDC refused to accept this proposal.

Swaziland

King Mswati held his royal 40/40 bash on 6th September, with a few discredited heads of states in attendance, including Robert Mugabe. It also went on to hold controversial elections, with political parties remaining banned, the media and judiciary silence d and criminalised all forms of political activities criminalised, on the grounds that they are the exclusive preserve of the royal family.

During this time, marches of around 20 000 people took to the streets, organised by the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF), the new front for change involving all civil society and political organisations fighting for change in the country.

The King has appointed a new Prime Minister - Dr Sibusiso Dlamini - who was Prime Minister previously and is notorious for his heavy handed and brutal reign. From the speech made by the king at his appointment, it seems clear what the mission is; he said, "akukhanywane kufiwe uma kufiwa", (let us strangle each other and die together, if need be). This may reflect the increased tempo of the struggle of the masses.

The CEC noted the impact of the border blockades, in which COSATU played a leading role, to the extent that the Mswati government wrote to the SA government to demand why they did not act to prevent people subverting their country.

Campaign on Zimbabwe and Swaziland - where to from here?

The CEC endorsed a programme of action agreed by a strategic retreat meeting with Swazi and Zimbabwean unions and civil society organisations to take forward the momentum for democracy in the two countries.

The coming Congress of the Southern African Trade Union Co-ordination Council in Botswana starting tomorrow should be able to strengthen these initiatives, given the centrality of the trade union movement in the success of this very determined regional civ il society programme.

DRC

The CEC expressed concern at the murder and rape of civilians, women and children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

COSATU 10th National Congress,

The CEC agreed that the agenda for the September 2009 10th National Congress should include:

Organisational Session

a) Assessment of the 2015 Plan

b) OD work based on discussions in the CEC

c) Recruitment campaign

d) Service to members

Political Session

a) Assessment of the 2009 elections

b) Alliance programme of action and the Pact

c) Progress to impose working-class hegemony

d) Walking through the open doors - seizing the moment

e) Transformation of the state

International Session

a) Globalisation today and its implications to our NDR

b) A closer look at Brazil, India, Russia and China

c) Africa and the millennium developmental goals - Africa and the role of trade unions

d) Climate change and its impact on development

e) WTO and the cohesion of the international trade union movement

Socio-economic Session

a) Progress in achieving the goal of ensuring that the second decade of democracy benefits more the workers and the poor in economic terms

b) Assessing progress in realising the goal of halving unemployment and poverty in 2014

c) Assessing progress we are making in realising the millennium development goals

Patrick Craven (National Spokesperson)

Congress of South African Trade Unions

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