The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) held its normal Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting from the 2nd to the 5th of November 2017 at the Saint George Hotel and Conference Centre in Irene, Tshwane.
The CEC is the highest decision-making body between National Congresses, and gives broader direction covering organisational, political, educational and policy issues within our union among others.
The CEC was attended by 768 union delegates from our structures across the country, guests and invited speakers who focused on issues ranging from presentations on climate change, National Health Insurance and GEMS by Naledi, Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and the GEMS Principal Officer Dr Goolab respectively.
Messages of support were delivered by the ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe, COSATU President Sidumo Dlamini and SACP 1st Deputy General Secretary Solly Mapaila among others.
1. Filling in of the vacant post of 1st Deputy President
The CEC unanimously elected a new 1st Deputy President, Cde Khehla Masemola. This was in line with our constitutional requirements to fill the vacant post after our former 1st Deputy President Nkosinathi Mabhida had requested to step down after a mutual agreement.
Cde Mabhida diligently served the organisation in various capacities for over 25 years, and has throughout this period remained one of the best cadres of our union. He ascended to become the 1st Deputy President in 2006. He also served as the chairperson of the Joint Mandating Committee (JMC) of COSATU amongst other responsibilities.
We thank him for his unreserved commitment towards the building of POPCRU, and will miss his firm approach and skills within the activities of our movement.
In the same spirit, we welcome Cde Khehla Masemola, who comes with a vast wealth of knowledge, experience and expertise as one of the longest serving members of our union.
2. Challenges facing public sector workers
The relationship between the allegations of state capture that remain to be fully investigated by our state security agencies and the announcement made by the minister of finance regarding the intention to cut down the labour wage bill is an issue of concern for us, and it will certainly not go unchallenged.
With the emerging allegations about the looting of state owned enterprises and their continued retrenchments of workers, it is clear that their underperformance is mainly due to corrupt means that have penetrated deep into the state coffers.
We cannot accept that workers are made to suffer through losing their jobs or forfeiting salary increases in the midst of the constant increases in prices of basic needs, while some within these enterprises are let off scot free.
Our call on our government to start taking harsher measures in dealing with the shortcomings that have expressed themselves in these sectors not by way of privatisation, but by ensuring their credibility and integrity is returned.
3. On acting positions within the Criminal Justice Cluster
We have noted with concern the bad defects that the many recurring acting positions within the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) have had in straining working relations.
We do not have permanent National Commissioners both in the SAPS and the DCS.
Within the SAPS, this has had serious implications on the strategic direction, which has led to hampering of service delivery and negatively affecting police officers' morale.
In the past 5 years, the structure has been reviewed more than 6 times, with each commissioner bloating it further, and concentrated at the top managerial levels, which has created a duplication of duties to an extent that service delivery on the ground is compromised.
In the DCS, there has been no finalisation of the Occupational Specific Dispensation (OSD) 2nd phase, which has badly affected workers' pockets.
Some of these workers have since passed on; others have resigned without benefitting from what is due to them.
There are no permanent regional leadership bodies as everyone is acting at these levels, therefore failing to look into the long-term objectives of the DCS.
Overcrowding and understaffing remains a contentious issue that has not been addressed to date, whilst more unnecessary manpower is at regional and national levels.
We call for the immediate appointments of the two commissioners, and the filling in of all regional heads posts that are vacant. In doing so, we are of the view that this will be a step in the right direction in ensuring that long-term objectives are met.
In doing so, all measures must be taken in ensuring the people to be appointed to these different positions are fully vetted, have integrity and the knowledge to do their work.
4. The role of our security institutions
The role of our state security institutions has been rather doubtful, if not embarrassing to say the least. In the main, their ineffectiveness in taking up allegations that have come to the fore regarding what is known as state capture has adversely reduced the confidence the South African populace has on them, and to make matters worse, the global world is beginning to see our country as potentially lawless.
The recent infightings that had expressed themselves amongst the different state security components have also spilled into the public domain, further damaging their credibility.
The fact that we heard on media platforms the Hawks' intentions to collaborate with foreign intelligence agencies into investigations linked to a particular family over allegations of state capture that is happening within our own country has led many South Africans into believing that this very important component is playing politics, has been captured and therefore serves the interests of those who seek to continue with the looting of our state resources.
Most worrying is that throughout the time allegations were levelled, our state security agencies have continued to downplay these revelations, only to agree to cooperate with the FBI recently.
The failure of our security institutions to take action against such allegations can only serve to promote lawlessness, leading to a mafia state where people are only pursued on the basis of their affiliation to those in power; something which would lead us into a partial democracy for the few.
The minister must take a tough stance on this form of behaviour for the purpose of reviving credibility within this cluster. We need to urgently ensure that all these suspicious acts are nipped in the bud.
5. On Gender Based Violence
Gender based violence has been a thorny issue which continues to thrive behind the silence of our closed doors, bedrooms and homes. We are increasingly getting worried about these growing statistics.
We sadly learn that just below 3500 women and children were murdered in the past year, many of them at the hands of their boyfriends or men they knew, and this has been a national trend.
Changing the behaviour and helping men break the cycle of lashing out at those they should love will require intervention and work in communities in the form of workshops and support groups.
As POPCRU, we are intensifying our campaigns, which are in essence aimed at raising awareness about the effects of gender-based violence. We need to prevent any future violations, encourage civil society to act against social crimes contributing to gender-based violence, and provide members of the public with an understanding of gender dynamics in the 21st century among others.
It is our held view that through these and other campaigns, we can change minds and moods around the participation of communities in the way they relate with each other, encourage dialogue as the best means for conflict resolution and change the wrong culture of male superiority in terms of the way they relate to women and children.
POPCRU will be hosting a campaign against gender based violence at the end of this month in Cape Town under the theme "POPCRU enhancing community relations to end gender based violence"
6. On the PIC
There have in recent month been rumours and fears that the Ministry of Finance plans to utilise funds from the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) in bailing out some of our unaccountable SOEs.
The continued decisions taken on behalf of workers outside their mandate continue to be a challenge, and the fact that there has not been any form of accountability regarding the looting of public funds cannot be taken lightly.
The Government Employees' Pension Fund (GEPF) and the PIC belong to workers and it is their hard earned pensions, unemployment insurance and compensation fund. This money is there to provide for them during retirement, unemployment and injury.
In this context, we remain committed to fighting to ensure that all looters stay as far away from these funds as possible.
We will also continue to ensure that the GEPF remains with the PIC as it has proven its ability to grow workers' pensions and funds as well, as to create jobs and grow the economy.
We need to further strengthen the PIC's transparency and accountability to the GEPF and Parliament on behalf of workers.
Labour should be represented within the board of the PIC, decisions can no longer be taken without.
7. On NHI
We have witnessed a large number of our people continuing to die prematurely and suffer from poor health throughout the years.
As POPCRU, we hold the view that the National Health Insurance (NHI) remains the only system that will ensure the long term health of all South Africans, regardless of their employment status and ability to make direct monetary contribution to the NHI fund.
There are still serious challenges mainly caused by a lopsided healthcare financing system which a majority of our people cannot afford, and without NHI, the burden of disease in the country will not be reduced because the majority of the population, mainly those suffering the greatest ill health, will not access good quality healthcare.
In principle, healthcare in our country is a human right as stated in our constitution, and should not be dependent on how rich one is or where they live.
With the medical aid scheme having come out publicly against the NHI as financially unsustainable and impractical, it them is insignificant for them to be given the custodianship role over it implementation as they would obviously work towards sabotaging its implementation.
After so many years of theorising on the NHI, we need to see its implementation program in line with the footsteps clearly outlined in its White Paper.
We call for the immediate process of amending legislation to prepare its implementation, the amendment of the National Health Act and the Medical Scheme Act to be in line with the NHI requirements, the finalisation of the estimated costs, followed by the immediate mobilisation of resources for in stages and the accreditation of facilities and service providers in ensuring quality care is provided in rolling out the service.
POPCRU will mobilise other concerned organs and march to parliament early next year to demand for the speedy implementation of the NHI
8. On the upcoming ANC National Congress
Through the lengthy discussions that have taken place over a period of time, with consultations to our structures, the CEC resolved that we will fully support the ANC Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to take over as the President of both the ANC and the Republic of South Africa.
Issued by POPCRU on 05/11/2017