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COSATU Eastern Cape Press statement
11 September 2012
The COSATU Eastern Cape Provincial Executive Committee met on 8 and 9 September 2012, this was the first PEC after the 11th Provincial Congress held on 02 – 04 August 2012.
The following areas were discussed:
1. Marikana Massacre
The PEC affirmed that the incident should be described as a “massacre” rather than a “tragedy” as described by some other commentators. The PEC condemned the negative role played by the mining industry in maintaining poor working conditions and wages as well as traditional “divide and rule” tactics used to weaken organised labour. We noted the huge disparities in levels of compensation of management and workers who daily face death, injury and disability in very risky working conditions.
In the light of the Marikana events, the PEC stressed the importance of unions maintaining healthy links and communication between leadership and members. We need to continuously strive to convince our membership of the importance of unity of the working class and act swiftly to challenge any divisive tendencies that arise.
The PEC criticised the heavy-handed action of the police at Marikana while also recognising their right to self-defence where necessary. Police should not be used recklessly and violently to intervene in industrial disputes involving workers and bosses.
The PEC welcomed the appointment of the Presidential Judicial Commission on Marikana. It should leave no stone unturned in uncovering the real facts of the situation and exposing and punishing those responsible for the shocking events that took place.
The PEC condemned the abuse of the Marikana situation by certain self-seeking demagogues who seek only to serve their own narrow interests.
2. The NHI
The PEC received a presentation from the national Department of Health on the proposed National Health Insurance Scheme. We were concerned at the slow pace of implementation of the scheme and the failure to address the ongoing shortage of healthcare facilities and staff in our rural areas in particular. While government formally supports the introduction of an NHI, National Treasury continues to under-resource health and other social services in line with its ongoing neoliberal GEAR orientation.
3. Auto cluster
The PEC welcomed the establishment of the provincial Auto Cluster and resolved that in addition to NUMSA, COSATU should participate in its programmes.
4. Situation at Nelson Mandela Metro
The PEC expressed its concern at the ongoing political instability in the Metro and condemned political interference in administration which affects service delivery. For the past five years the Metro has not filled the municipal manager post as well as other key positions due to interference by opportunists wanting to use the municipal machine for their own narrow enrichment purposes. This has led to lack of stability in the administration, absence of administrative discipline and direction, insufficient capacity and consequent service delivery challenges. The economy of the Metro and job market have been severely affected.
The PEC also condemned the burning of houses of councillors and other community leaders in the Metro. Those resisting the abovementioned political interference have been targeted for attack and malicious damage to their properties.
5. Service delivery
The PEC expressed its deep concern at the ongoing service delivery crisis in the Province. This includes a collapse in health and education, slow housing delivery and a generally poor performance by provincial government departments and municipalities. The recent Auditor General’s report on the audit of outcomes of Eastern Cape local government noted that compliance with laws and regulations remains a challenge. In nine cases the situation had got worse and no municipalities received a clean audit opinion. The AG noted lack of discipline and diligence in financial management and high levels of unauthorised, irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure. Minimum competencies and skills were found to be lacking.
6. Budget cuts
The PEC expressed its concern at growing cuts in the budgets of provincial departments and entities. Some government entities may not be able to pay their salaries this month. Earlier this year some health workers including doctors and nurses were not paid. This led to staff downing tools and putting the lives of our people at risk.
It would appear that as the economic crisis intensifies, hidden cuts in public services are quietly being implemented. In line with National Treasury’s neoliberal obsession with maintaining a low debt to GDP ratio, government borrowing is being limited and services cut. The pain is in turn transferred to the great majority of working people, the poor and unemployed who are forced to do without. South Africa’s current debt to GDP ratio is currently only about half of successful economies like Germany and only a fraction of that of Japan. These countries have borrowed heavily to invest and kick-start their economies since the onset of the crisis in 2008.
7. Foster care grant
The PEC condemned the decision to remove access of grandparents to foster grants allowing them to take care of their grandchildren. In a country with a very high unemployment rate these grants served as a cushion for the most vulnerable. These people will now suffer greatly. While this is a consequence of a court ruling, it appears to be part of the ongoing sneaky implementation of cuts in services to the masses in the interests of capital. Government appears to be pursuing the age old theme of cuts in social services combined with welfare for capital. COSATU will engage the Provincial Department of Social Development and Special Programmes to express its opposition to any such cuts.
8. COSATU National Congress
The PEC noted serious challenges to COSATU’s unity and cohesion in the run-up to the Congress. The PEC trusts that the Congress will resolve to move forward in a united and principled way. The PEC expressed the wish that the current leadership be retained in its entirety for the sake of unity.
9. ANC national leadership
The PEC reiterated its February decision that COSATU continues to defend the Polokwane progressive political framework. We will engage with the ANC to ensure this; actively work to isolate the tenderpreneurs in our midst; act to defend the leadership collective elected at Polokwane; refrain from prematurely engaging in succession debates; and continue to engage in struggle from the point of view of the working class as a whole.
10. Labour brokers
The PEC resolved to embark on protest action in the form of pickets and demonstrations on 7 October against labour broking and precarious work. COSATU will be mobilising workers and the broader community in support of this campaign.
11. Recruitment Campaign
The continuous recruitment and unionization of workers outside COSATU is a critical and central part of building and maintaining a strong labour movement.
The PEC resolved to continue with the annual recruitment campaign and identified the month of February 2013 to launch the campaign. Affiliates would be expected commit more time for planning and execution of the campaign, with clear monitoring mechanisms to sustain the newly recruited membership.
12. Ear on the ground Campaign
The PEC agreed on a campaign dubbed Ear on the Ground, the campaign is meant to coordinate all COSATU and Affiliates leaders at all levels to go out to all workplaces in the province with the aim of listening to the complaints and concerns of workers and develop a programme of addressing them. The PEC adopted the month of July as the Members Month to drive this campaign. Leaders would be expected to scale down on their other activities and focus on this campaign.
For further information please phone the COSATU eastern Cape provincial Secretary, Mandla Rayi, on 082 779 2466