South Africa: The Congress of South African Trade Unions' Response to the African National Congress NEC January 08 Anniversary Message for Year 2022

press release

Special Note: Happy 36th Anniversary to COSATU. Formed December 1985

The Congress of South African Trade Unions has noted the African National Congress (ANC) NEC January 08th message as delivered by ANC President Cde Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa in Polokwane yesterday -08 January 2022. We congratulate the ANC on reaching an impressive milestone of 110 years. We hope that the core of this ANC NEC message will not be lost, early next month, when the President of the country Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his State of the Nation

Organizationally, the Federation is familiar with the message of renewal in the ANC. A decade ago in December 2012, in closing its Mangaung National Conference the ANC said; "We hereby declare the next ten years as the Decade of the Cadre and commit to implementing a decade-long programme of organizational renewal to safeguard the core values of the ANC and build its transformative capacity as a strategic centre of power and driver of fundamental change".

A decade later, the ANC needs to reflect on its failure to realise this declaration and work harder to honour this pledge if it wants to stem the party's noticeable decline of the last decade.

The latest Local Government Election results prove that the ANC no longer enjoys a high level of confidence amongst its core constituency of the working class and many of them are disillusioned.

Currently, the broader balance of forces in society actually favour the combined force of international and domestic monopoly capital. This upper hand enjoyed by monopoly capital is finding expression on the national political landscape through the growing strength of the opposition parties.

The moral high-ground historically enjoyed by the ANC-led Alliance is gradually being eroded amid the ongoing narrow factional battles, widespread corruption, patronage, and serious organisational and strategic weaknesses.

This combined with the undermining of the progressive resolutions of the Nasrec conference poses a threat not only to the gains of the last three decades but also the NDR itself.

This places the ideological and political orientation of the movement in focus, as the need for grounding its members and leaders in the fundamentals of its ideology and political strategy become ever more important.

There is a need to elevate ideological and political work directed at raising the level of class consciousness and inspire political activism within the ANC. This ideological grounding is essential as a basis for deepening an understanding of the theory of struggle of the national democratic revolution, which itself should be at the core of this ideological and political work.

While we want to remain hopeful that this ANC NEC message will make a difference in government policy, we have also reflected on the Medium Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) as presented in Parliament in October last year, which articulates government's three-year tax and spending plans in response to the present socioeconomic challenges. In this regard, we noted the fact that there is no clear shift away from the macroeconomic policy framework.

Instead, the MTBPS adopts an even more cautious stance and goes back to some of the GEAR's measures that were introduced in the face of low growth, budget deficit and a huge public debt. Again, this calls to question as to the commitment of the ANC government to a radical second phase.

Nonetheless, it is true that in the prevailing poor economic conditions and amid the rising discontent in working class communities, the ANC government has become vulnerable to pressure from monopoly capital, including the western sovereign rating agencies that have been aggressively trying to dictate policies using threats to further downgrade the country.

But the ANC needs to realise that there is an urgent need to shift our socioeconomic development away from the current semi-colonial trajectory and focus on building a developmental state. This involves the rolling-back of the implementation of Neo-managerial policies such as outsourcing, public-private-partnerships, agentisation, etc.

The ANC needs to acknowledge that Neoliberal policy framework as represented by Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) has only served to create profitability for capital and to entrench the inherited colonial growth path - an economy mainly characterised by a dependency on mineral extraction and unskilled cheap labour.

The status quo cannot continue, we need an alignment of the macroeconomic policies, in particular the monetary policy with the industrial policy and other objectives. We need an economic model that places emphasis on job-creation and reduction of inequalities rather a fixation with a percentage of a growth target.

The ANC and its government need to redefine the role of the state in the economy, delivering on the commitment to establish a state-owned bank, fixing, and reorienting the SOEs and DFIs in terms of the planned investment targets and development objectives.

As COSATU, we remain reliable allies of the ANC. We are conscious that the movement is passing through its most difficult period in its history and that our immediate task is to continue to defend its unity, its adherence to our political strategy of the national democratic revolution.

In the coming year, we shall spare no effort in influencing the ANC to focus on its organisational weaknesses, whilst also pushing back against its government's attempt to introduce public-private-partnerships, outright privatization, agentisation, outsourcing and the application of the "user-pays" mechanism in the delivery of public services to the working class and rural poor.

We shall continue to take up policy and legislation related to socioeconomic transformation in Parliament, NEDLAC and even in direct engagements with the departments and other state institutions.

The key tasks of the moment in the present conjuncture are to defend and consolidate the unity of the ANC and the Alliance especially in provinces and ensuring that the identified key national priorities are translated into the government's programme of action.

Going forward, the Federation hopes that the ANC will be preoccupied with the socioeconomic devastation caused by the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic on the South African economy, in particular the massive job-losses that have taken place since the beginning of 2020.

We are happy that the ANC maintains a progressive anti-imperialist posture and hope that this will be reflected in the organisation's solidarity work and our government's independent foreign policy.

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