The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] convened its 2nd plenary session of National Executive Committee [NEC] meeting of the 11th National Congress on the 12-13 April 2018. The NEC considered the international context, national political and socio-economic situations including organisational assessment in particular matters affecting our members and the working class in general.
The meeting took place as we were mourning the passing away of our beloved mother of the nation, Mama Winifred Zanyiwe Nomzamo Madikizela Mandela, who was a revolutionary freedom fighter. The national union dips its banner and hope that her passing away should prompt us to redouble our efforts in taking forth the struggle to build the type of society that Mama Winnie was prepared to die for. The meeting also expressed sadness over the passing away of Cde. Zola Skweyiya who was an unflinching champion of the transformative agenda. The meeting also took place two days after the 25th anniversary of the assassination of the former General Secretary of the South African Communist Party [SACP], Cde Chris Hani, who was brutally assassinated by the apartheid regime with the intention to derail the liberation of our people. At the same time the union recalled the memories of SACTU militants such as Archie Sibeko (Zola Zembe), who recently passed on in London, as militants who mobilised international resources for the establishment of a strong, united trade union federation COSATU and to ensure that they counter the offensive to combat reformism, class-collaboration is central to marking their glorious contributions in the struggle against capitalism exploitation and imperialism.
The national executive committee further noted with serious concerns the decision to increase VAT by 1% while our people continue to suffer from the unrelenting triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequalities. South Africa continues to have the most unequal society in the world with 40% of the population living below the poverty line. With this impending disaster in sight our government saw it fit to add more burden to the working class and make it impossible to stretch their rand by introducing the VAT increase. The working class is made to pay for the lack of financial prudency and good governance particularly in the State Owned Entities [SOE’s]. Most state resources are looted by corrupt and greedy elitists who have no care for the repercussions of their plundering of the state and the ramification for the working class who have to bear the brunt of austerity measures and disruptions to service delivery.
Our NEC meeting took place in the midst of public service negotiations which began in November 2017. The negotiations have been protracted unnecessarily owing to the cabinet reshuffle that removed the former Minister of the Department of Public Service and Administration and the disruptions of the progress made in the negotiations on the 26th January 2018 by the new Minister who attempted to start negotiations from scratch. The national union is appalled by the fact that government is not negotiating in good faith and does not show any willingness of finding common ground. All of this is in the detriment of workers who were supposed to receive their salary increase on the 15th April 2018.
The national union hopes the negotiations would be completed soon as possible to avert a strike action which may cripple the public service. As NEHAWU, we will ensure that our members get better salaries, housing allowance and we are willing to tackle the bull by its horn to ensure that there is abolishment of salary level 1 to 3 and that the moratorium on the filling of funded vacant posts is lifted. The President during the state of the nation address called on public servants to put in extra efforts in their work. This must be accompanied by monetary incentive and better working conditions.
On the international front
The meeting noted the continued lurching from one crisis to another by the world capitalist economy and its ramifications for the working class and the poor who are still subjected to high levels of unemployment, poverty and inequalities in income levels. The national union believes that the current conjecture necessitates and qualifies the need for a socialist revolution and that only through the dismantling of capitalism can we truly guarantee a better life for all free of exploitation, poverty and trivial imperialist wars.
As NEHAWU, we condemn the killing of more than a dozen Palestinians by apartheid Israel during the Great March of return and we support the call an inquiry into the bloodshed. We reiterate our call for our government to cut all ties with Apartheid Israel starting with the implementation of the African National Congress [ANC] 54th Conference resolution of immediately and unconditionally downgrading of the SA embassy in Israel to a liaison office.
On Cuba, the meeting noted the reversal of the strides made by Obama by the Trump administration. The national union believes that the decisions by the Trump administration necessitates that we continue giving support to Cuba especially in fighting the criminal economic blockade by the US. The national union is going to revive its solidarity campaigns and also pay attention to improved relations with the Cubans around the Nurses Training Program, ideological education and ensuring that we lend a hand in offering material support for the reconstruction efforts following the hurricane Irma destruction.
The meeting noted the continued undermining of the democratically elected government of President Nicholas Maduro in Venezuela by the US using upper and middle class counterrevolutionaries in the country. We hold a strong view that the onslaught against Venezuela is fuelled by the US intentions to plunder Venezuelan oil resources and end its transformation agenda which has prioritised the wellbeing of its citizens above everything else.
The meeting expressed anger at the continued deteriorating quality of life in Swaziland while the king and his family enjoy a lavish lifestyle. Public servants in the country were slapped with a 0% salary increase, perpetually subjecting them to a life of poverty while the King splashes public funds on an unnecessary private jet and luxurious cars and overseas shopping sprees. As NEHAWU, we will work hand in glove with the labour movement and other progressive formations in Swaziland and offer support in taking forward their struggles. Part of our efforts include lobbying Cosatu and other fraternal organisations to lend a hand in driving a resistance campaign against the illegitimate regime.
National political situation and socioeconomic situation
The meeting analysed the outcomes of the 54th Conference of the ANC held on the 16th – 20th December 2017 in NASREC. This new epoch in our revolution presents an opportunity to refocus the trajectory of the National Democratic Revolution which was derailed by the Zuma presidency. A hands on deck approach is necessary to undo the damage done by Zuma and the Gupta dynasty. Moving forward, reuniting and refocusing the Alliance to march in unison towards the realisation of the ideals of the NDR should be on top of the list to-do by President Ramaphosa and his collective.
We welcome the reshuffling of the worst performing ministers even though others still remain in cabinet. In the same breath, we also welcome the dissolution of the Eskom board and the reversal of the irregular appointment of the CEO, scrutiny of SOE’s and government department embroiled in corrupt activities, the establishment of a judicial commission of inquiry into state capture, raids of the crooked premiers office in both North West and Free State. These events are proof enough that the President and his collective are determined about rolling back the advances made by the architectures of state capture.
The meeting noted the opportunism of opposition parties especially the EFF in trying to claim both the progressive resolutions and the gain achieved post the 54th National Conference. These include the issue of free education, expropriation of land without compensation, nationalisation of the South African Reserve Bank and the implementation of the National Health Insurance [NHI]. The Mass Democratic Movement must rightfully claim these advances because these are some of its initiatives and we must ensure that opposition parties don’t own them. The broad left forces especially in Parliament should agitate for a greater offensive aimed towards exposing subjective weaknesses of opposition parties and their lack of capacity to formulate and implement any policies that will change the lives of our people.
The national union has noted the regrouping of the premier league factions that existed before the 54th National Conference especially in KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and North West. The failure to dismantle factions has a potential to erode the good work that has been done by the new administration. The unity of the ANC is of paramount importance if it is to stand a chance in winning the general elections come 2019. The current ANC leadership has a collective obligation to instil unity and discipline. Failure to discipline members who act in a manner that seeks to divide the organisation runs the risk of hurting the ANC and divide the alliance.
The national union welcomes the fact that in 2017 the economy avoided recession as it registered a 1.3% growth. However, this is overshadowed by high levels of corruption, waste and fruitless expenditure in government departments and the SOE’s. This warrants a concerted effort in fighting the lack of financial shrewdness by those tasked with the responsibility of looking after the public purse. As NEHAWU, we will vehemently reject any job losses in the public service because of austerity measures meant to remedy the debt burden of the public service. Equally, we reject any envisaged privatisation and the VAT increase. Our view that an urgent alliance summit is required to deal with the issue of the VAT increase. In this regard, we call upon our government not to punish the poor as a result of their inability to create a productive economy that ensures job creation. As a union organising in the public sector we will continue to wage a relentless war against remnants of state capture, corruption and maladministration that is taking place in the state owned enterprises and government departments in particular. NEHAWU believes that an overhaul is needed in the SOE’s especially ensuring that they are led by people with the required skills in order to make them profitable and silence the calls for privatisation.
The meeting expressed support for active investment by the Public Investment Corporation [PIC] in the public sector, including lending to the Treasury through bonds to meet budgetary deficit-financing and to support investment by SOEs in infrastructure development and job-creating productive activities. However, the Steinhoff saga necessitates that the PIC pays more attention on the investments they make as lack of returns have a bad impact on the pensions of workers. The national union continues to hold a strong view that the Government Employees Pension Fund [GEPF] has a role to play in acquiring houses to the more than 900 000 public servants who are without housing. As contributors to the fund, workers wellbeing must be prioritised rather than investing in huge malls that do not benefit workers in anyway whatsoever.
We applaud our members in the North West province for actively fighting the scourge of corruption in the Department of Health. Corruption is at the centre of the crisis that engulfs the health sector in the country and we will fight the scourge wherever it rears its ugly head. In this regard, the National Office Bearers of the union will descend in the North West Province to intensify the fight to dismantle the Gupta networks and restore health services to the communities.
The meeting noted the silence and inaction by the Minister of Health, Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, while the health sector is crumbling in the country. Most provinces run out of financial resources and end up not fulfilling their duties, still the minister elects to stay mum. In this regard, the national union calls for a health indaba with the Minister and the President to scrutinise the crisis in the health sector and the lack of progress in NHI pilots sites.
Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat
Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968;
December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969;
Khaya Xaba (NEHAWU Media Liaison Officer) at 082 455 2500
or email: email@example.com Visit NEHAWU website: www.nehawu.org.za