South Africa: Cosatu Limpopo Post-PEC Statement

press release

The Congress of South African Trade Unions in Limpopo convened its ordinary Provincial Executive Committee meeting on the 16th September 2020 held through virtual platform dictated by the "new normal". The PEC meeting was joined and addressed by the General Secretary of the federation, comrade Bheki Ntshalintshali.

This robust and frank parliament of workers took place in the context of a global covid-19 pandemic, global hardships facing the working class and the poor, rampant looting of public resources, the attack on Collective Bargaining by our very own democratic government and the paralysis within the alliance.

Building a strong and militant trade union movement

The meeting concurred with the Central Executive Committee of the federation that the ongoing economic crisis and the accompanying retrenchments poses a real threat to the trade union movement. Synchronously, the PEC appreciated the fact that the ultimate test of any trade union movement is in its ability to remain grounded and firmly anchored in its finest traditions of militant, mass mobilisation and revolutionary outlook.

It was therefore out of that characterization that the meeting resolved on the immediate need to build a strong trade union movement through rapid, creative membership recruitment campaign. Simultaneously, we should ensure that our affiliates remain grounded in workplace struggles defending our members against arrogant employers. In this regard, the federation in the province shall embark on campaign, visiting all the districts and workplaces, to recruit more workers in all the sectors to join our trade unions. COSATU locals as engines for campaigns of the federation are called upon to occupy central positions as the programme ensues.

We are confident as the federation that in doing so, we would be sharpening ourselves further for the next phase of our historic journey and pledge to remain true to our historic mission and workers aspirations, albeit in a more complex terrain and uncertain future.

The PEC further welcomed the new unions, the Agricultural Food and Allied Democratic Workers Union (AFADWU) and the National Transport Union (NTM) into the ranks of the federation. The two unions are bringing in a combined membership of 100 00 workers to be part of this giant federation in our country.

Public Service salary increase dispute

The federation furiously reflected on the ongoing public service salary increment dispute- the non-implementation of PSCBC resolution 1 of 2018 by the employer. This is unprecedented in the history of Collective Bargaining in the country that our own democrat government reneges on a duly signed agreement. The PEC is therefore calling on all workers to be mobilized and be ready to defend our hard-won Collective Bargaining on the 07th October 2020.

COSATU National Strike

The PEC received and welcomed the decision of the Central Executive Committee that we must mobilize workers and society to confront the scourge of corruption, fight against Job losses and retrenchments and the attack on Collective Bargaining Agreements. We are therefore making a clarion call to workers in the province to stay away from work on the 07th October 2020 and join our demonstrations against the socio-economic challenges facing the country and the onslaught against Collective Bargaining.

Socio-Economic

Gender-Based violence

The PEC expressed alarm about the rising levels of gender-based violence in the country and our province. As the nation continues to battle the invisible COVID-19 pandemic, a highly visible epidemic of gender-based violence and femicide continues to threaten the lives of our women and children.

The Crimes Against Women in South Africa Report by Statistics SA shows that femicide is five times higher than the global average. This scourge is systemic and deeply entrenched in institutions, cultures and traditions in our society. Women no longer face the triple challenges of inequality, unemployment and poverty. They face quadruple challenges, the fourth challenge being gender-based violence.

The meeting acknowledged the government's commitment to protect women and children through policy interventions and making resources available to law enforcement agencies. The federation also commend the government for ratifying Convention 190 that is intended to eliminate violence and harassment at the workplace, especially against women.

Covid-19 pandemic

The federation believes that the consultative, transparent, cautious yet the decisive and well-calculated manner in which the ANC and government led by President Ramaphosa initiated the lockdown to protect the nation against the COVID 19 earned the movement high moral standing and disarmed both cynicism and opposition forces the necessary spaces to take away power from our state.

However, the same cannot be described of our Provincial Government and the Premier, Chupu Stanley Mathabatha. From the onset, the federation was never invited by the Premier for consultation on matters of COVID-19 in the province. The federation had to formally complain to the Premier by invoking the provisions of the National Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002 regarding representation of organized labour in government structures during such pandemic.

The same has also been observed in the non-cooperation by the MEC for COGHSTA, Baskopo Makamu in ensuring representation of organized labour in districts and local municipal Disaster Management Advisory Committees despite numerous formal requests.

Nonetheless, our overall assessment and conclusion is that Provincial Government and MEC for Health, Dr Phophi Ramathuba continue to manage the COVID-19 pandemic much better than in other parts of the country.

In the face of all this the PEC salutes the heroic work of healthcare and other frontline workers, as well as numerous community-based volunteerism that emerged organically responding to the call to fight the pandemic. This popular activism based on solidarity must be deepened and resourced as a critical response to what will now be a long-haul struggle against our multi-dimensional socio-economic crises.

Economy

The PEC noted the devastating impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on lives and livelihoods in our province. The impact of the pandemic comes on top of a pre-existing crisis of extraordinary levels of poverty, inequality and unemployment. The available science on the pandemic suggest that the effects of COVID-19 will be with us until 2022.

The federation characterises the period before the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic as the crisis before the crisis. Our view is that the world was going through a deep crisis, even before the COVID-19 crisis emerged. Nevertheless, the pandemic has provided the rare opportunity for the decisive implementation of radical, thorough-going measures and interventions that would shake the foundations of the old order and qualitatively usher in a new period of real change.

The agenda for this new normal is not given, but a fierce contest between and amongst classes and various social forces interested in designing this "emerging new reality" in their own interest. Therefore, as workers we seek to contest and shape this new normal in the interest of workers and the poor deliberately and decisively. It must affirm deep structural transformation, create a new, but robust economy, build a foundation for a real social wage that break the back of poverty, inequalities, and unemployment. That is why COSATU has called for the flattening of not just the COVID-19 Curve, but the curves of the triple crisis too; unemployment, poverty and inequalities.

Corruption

The federation noted that whilst there are many positive features to our collective South African response to the pandemic, there have also been outrageous negative features as well. The looting of public resources intended for dealing with the health crisis and the theft of personal protective equipments are just one more, particularly awful, example of the rampant scourge of corruption and unethical behaviour across much of the public and private sectors. These are actions that the World Health Organisation director-general has rightfully described as 'akin to murder'.

The PEC welcomed the decisions of the last ANC National Executive Committee to intensify the campaign against corruption and deal decisively with all the culprits, including instructing all those charged with fraud, corruption and other crimes in the courts of law to step aside. The meeting also welcomed President Ramaphosa's letter to ANC members, drawing a clear line in the sand. The federation in the province assures him of our unconditional support in driving a firm anti-corruption line within our movement.

However, the same vigour and commitment cannot be said about Premier Chupu Stanley Mathabatha and the ANC PEC collective. Their collective "AWOL" and quietness when society in the province needs political leadership in the midst of rampant corruption is dubious and brings the movement into disrepute.

The federation noted and reflected on several allegations of corruption in the province and resolved that we are going to embark on a campaign to demand consequence management and political accountability. Some of the allegations of corruption are as outlined below:

Fraud and Corruption allegations in the Office of the Premier - On the 31st May 2019, the Hawks raided the office following allegations of fraud and corruption on international trips. The federation followed-up with the Hawks on the case and was assured that investigations are ongoing. However, the federation is annoyed that allegations of fraud and corruption happened in the highest office of the province and no action is taken against any official.

Fraud and corruption by HOD-Public Works, Roads and Infrastructure. The HOD, an Accounting Officer of the Department, Timothy Seroka, was found guilty of fraudulent travel claims totalling R 11 000 but only given a mere suspension of three months without pay.

The Road Agency Limpopo (RAL), a parastatal of the Limpopo Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, has collapsed. This Agency has an over-commitment of Four Billion Rands which means that for the next four years or so, there would be no construction of any new road by the Province.

The Limpopo Economic Development Agency (LEDA), through its subsidiary called Limpopo Connexion, has appointed Alton's Altech Radio Holdings to establish a secure, open-access broadband network across the Limpopo Province, to a tune of almost a Billion Rands. This money was wasted through corruption and mismanagement irrespective of several meetings held between the Premier and the Minister of communication advising the Premier against continuing with the project in its form.

The Great North Transport (GNT), is a wholly-owned subsidiary of LEDA, which is a wholly-owned by Limpopo Economic Development Environment and Tourism. GNT is a bus passenger transport company that provides public passenger transport services within Limpopo and part of Mpumalanga Provinces.

The Board of GNT approved a tender for supply, maintenance and financing of 150 commuter buses. The capital cost of the project was reflected as R316 Million and maintenance cost over a five-year period as R195 Million with the project financed through a finance lease with monthly instalments of R7.1 Million. The Provincial Treasury raised questions about the deal on compliance with sections of the Treasury regulation (Supply Chain Management process -Financial and Pricing Model) that had no answers from LEDET, LEDA and GNT.

§ On the corrugated iron housing corruption, The Premier went on to Talana to cut a Ribbon on the shacks which cost the state more than R60 000 per unit. It is completely in unacceptable in our democratic country to house people on corrugated iron when the RDP policies were meant to redress the apartheid spatial development and the housing legacy. As if the Talana debacle was not enough, the Limpopo Government proceeded to Apiesdoring, Burgersfort to spend R10 Million on the same 152 shacks as that of Talana. It was only stopped when the community launched a campaign to reject the shacks as they believed the project was corrupt and not fit for human settlement

§ PPE tender scandal allegation. The widely reported scandal regarding the procurement of PPEs by the Department of Health cannot be ignored. Whilst respecting the investigation by the Special Investigations Unit, the federation believes that there is case to be answered regarding corruption and nepotism.

§ Burgersfort land corruption allegations. According to the Auditor-General report, the land is 107,74 hectares, valued at R8,14 million and ultimately the Provincial Government corruptly purchased the land 14 times its value for R 116.5 Million

Allegations of corruption in Sekhukhune District Municipality. R 4.2 Million and R 12 Million respectively paid into wrong accounts respectively. R 26 m tender irregularly awarded)

Allegations of corruption in Capricorn District Municipality. Water maintenance contract tenders where a pre-evaluation report differs fundamentally with appointments which may mean that those contractors appointed were definitely not appointable. This is compounded by the fact that computers were stolen from the municipality wherein only pre-evaluation report was erased from them.

Allegations of corruption in Mogalakwena Municipality. A forensic investigation on corruption in that municipality is gathering dust and led to killings of the Chairperson of Municipal Public Accounts Committee and an ANC branch leader. The only intervention was to put the municipality under administration but no political accountability till to date

These are but some of the allegations of rampant corruption happening within our province. The federation makes a call that the fight against corruption be waged in communities, inside all non-governmental organisations, political parties, churches, educational institutions and other social formations. COSATU will therefore convene an Provincial Anti-Corruption Front in the coming days to mobilize the alliance and social partners against the rampant looting.

Political and International

The federation believes that a correct analysis of the events, the ability to draw lessons from them and to find a basis for class action, remains the most characteristic peculiarities of a revolutionary and progressive trade union movement.

The reinstatement of the two ANC officials

The assessment of our meeting concluded that the alliance comprised of COSATU, the SACP and the ANC is facing a serious state of paralysis. The absence of democratic, consensus-seeking consultation on the direction of our shared national democratic revolution has created distrust and resentment that is affecting both the alliance and society. The non-consultation of the alliance on the ANC NEC decision to reinstate comrades Florence Radzilani and Danny Msiza is a case in point. This is plunging the revolution into unchartered waters.

The federation in the province still reaffirm its decision to reject their reinstatement until they clear their names in the Adv Terry Motau SC Report on the VBS.

The unity and cohesion of the ANC

The stark fact is that the ANC is no longer a coherent and disciplined organisation to be trusted by the society it wants to lead. The ANC PEC collective has left a vacuum and instead a faction has taken charge of our movement in the province.

Over and above these views, our observation has been that the ANC PEC in Limpopo is deeply divided and weak to an extent that it has been struggling to function collectively and coherently. This has been demonstrated by its inability to take firm decisions against weaknesses and political challenges in several areas and incidents in the province such as in Waterberg region and Mogalakwena Municipality. There are current political turmoil in Giyani Municipality, Tzaneen Municipality and the ANC PEC is mum.

As the main and leading motive forces of the national democratic revolution, the working class have a duty to defend the value system of our movement. We have risen at all material times when the ANC degenerated to defend the liberation movement which remains the only instrument to realize the objectives of our NDR.

On the Premier and ANC Provincial Chairperson

Our PEC also expressed its misgivings about the conduct of the Premier and ANC Provincial Chairperson, comrade Chupu Stanley Mathabatha, as we felt he is muted and had diverted from his stance of leading the fight against corruption in the province. There are several sequence of events in the province where the ANC Provincial Chairperson was either silent or not visible such as the assassinations of comrades in Vhembe and Mogalakwena.

The Premier and the ANC Provincial Chairperson has abdicated his responsibilities of leading the fight against corruption and uniting the movement. Our firm view is that the Premier has outsourced his leadership and decision making to a faction. The faction has taken over key decision-making processes in the both the state and the movement. This has been demonstrated when key decisions by the Premier are known and pronounced by the faction before official announcements. The federation refuses the capture of our provincial government and our movement by a faction.

The federation has over a period of time engaged the Premier and the ANC Provincial Chairperson regarding our disquiet about his conduct and leadership weaknesses. As a matter of fact, the federation is justified to pronounce that we have lost confidence on the ANC Provincial Chairperson and the Premier of the province, comrade Chupu Stanley Mathabatha. We are therefore making a call for him to step down as the Premier of the province. This is a matter that the federation would formally engage its alliance partners for a wayward.

Strengthening the left axis

The federation reaffirmed its commitment to strengthening is relations and sustain cordial relationship with our vanguard party, the South African Communist Party in the province through programmes such as:

Joint Political Education workshop

Release Amos Mbedzi Campaigns

Anti-corruption campaign

Support for the nomination of the Cuban International Medical Brigade, called the Henry Reeve Brigade, for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for showing "Genuine internationalism".

Mass Democratic Movement

The federation has consistently raised the challenges of our MDM structures, particularly SANCO and our youth formations. SANCO has been bedevilled by divisions from national, provinces down to its sub-structures. In our province, there are parallel SANCO structures as well. The federation calls for the unity of our civic movement.

In the same vein, we are concerned about the absence of the ANCYL which since disbandment, has never moved with the required pace to rebuild this critical detachment of our revolution. The recent campaign by young people demanding to be given back their ANC Youth League is a clear demonstration that the youth have become impatient with the movement on the moribund of their organization. It is important to remind ourselves that any revolution is lost or won in the quality of youth cadres it produces.

The arrest of those implicated in the collapse of VBS

The federation welcomes the arrest the by Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) of eights on the VBS case. The suspects were charged with forty-seven (47) counts of various criminal offences related to the VBS collapse. The meeting further noted that the suspects are out on bail and expected back in court on the 08th October 2020. The meeting resolved that the federation working together with the alliance and those who lost their hard-earned saving with the collapse of the VBS, should organize pickets during the court appearance of the suspects on the 08th October

International

The meeting noted the deepening crisis of capitalism and its direct impact on the socio-economic conditions of the working class and the poor on the international front. The sustained aggression and imperialism agenda by the US against the Venezuela and Cuba people should be condemned by all progressive forces of the world

The federation reaffirmed our international solidarity with the Venezuelan, Cuban and Palestinian people. COSATU should continue to provide solidarity support to our sister trade union federations in our neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe and Swaziland. The meeting further expressed our resentment on the Zimbabwean situation where trade union and civil society leaders continue to be harassed by their government. We therefore make a call to the Zimbabwean government to respect the universal human rights of its citizens and trade union leaders.

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