The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] convened its 3rd plenary session of National Executive Committee [NEC] meeting of the 11th National Congress on the 30-31 October 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 NEC meeting began by paying respect to the great giant of our national liberation and proletarian international struggles, Cde Eric “Stalin” Mtshali, who was buried on the 21st October 2018. Cde. Mtshali played a central role in the advancement of the socialist struggle and building of the World Federation of Trade Unions [WFTU] in the African Continent. As NEHAWU, we warmly welcome the announcement of the Eric “Stalin” Mtshali Trade Union Prize by the WFTU General Secretary, Cde George Mavrikos. The meeting also paid tribute to the outstanding Marxist intellectual from our African soil, Cde Samir Amin, who recently passed away as well.
The national union notes that the global economic growth is expected to be at 3.7%, whilst in South Africa it has been revised down from 1.5% to 0.7%. The Medium Term Budget Policy Statement [MTBPS] recently tabled in Parliament had a subheading that states: “South Africa finds itself at a cross roads.” The country in a crisis of a persistent economic stagnation, yet the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Lesetja Kganyago, has the nerve to lecture us on Venezuela, saying that “unorthodox policies have totally orthodox consequences” and that “we cannot just say the populist path will end in disaster. It will” as if their own orthodox and populist policies for the ruling class at the reserve bank are not causing the present disaster in our society.
The MTBS was tabled in a context of a worst post-apartheid economic crisis that expresses itself in high levels of unemployment, poverty, deepening social inequalities, a stagnant economy and declining output including deindustrialization. Disappointingly, once again the African National Congress [ANC] led government has failed to present a budget that is pro-poor and working class in orientation which is the core electoral base of the African National Congress [ANC].
The NEC meeting congratulated the Congress of South African Trade Unions [COSATU] for a successful and united 13th National Congress held under the theme “Deepen the back to basics campaign, consolidate the struggle for the National Democratic Revolution and advance the struggle for socialism”. We also congratulate and express confidence to the elected leadership and going forward the federation must redouble its efforts in the struggle to provide quality service to members, organizing the unorganized and must not tire until there is attainment of socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat.
On the international front
The meeting of the NEC deliberated on major developments in the world, at the centre of which is the persisting global capitalist crisis. In addition, developments in the Middle East, in Asia, Europe and Latin America were discussed. These include Syria, Palestine, Pakistan, India, China and Russia, the BREXIT in Europe, trade wars, potential military escalations of conflict, austerity, trade, regional peace and some ideological questions.
Since the last NEC, world economic growth remain stagnant. All indexes for world trade, exports and industrial production shows considerable decline. World poverty is on the rise and the global economy is not creating sufficient jobs to absorb existing labour, leaving millions especially the youth unemployed. It is evident that in the midst of all these challenges, the ruling classes continue to show utter bankruptcy. They lack immediate solutions to arrest their dwindling profits, much less so the ability to reduce unemployment and poverty. Every effort they make to increase profits has the capitalist framework as its underlying philosophy. Their economic policies are designed to reinforce the endless spiral which invariably exacerbates the crisis. Under the epithet of the 4th industrial revolution, the ruling classes envision deepening exploitation, subjecting workers to more working hours, with less pay, precarious conditions and they aim to replace them with machines. Public welfare measures are also under attack, with cuts in social security, health and education. Working families’ share of income have declined, whilst wealth is even more concentrated amongst smaller number of rich families.
But amongst the consequences of the capitalist crisis that is of major concern to the NEC is the persisting rightward shift in global politics. The electoral victory of Bolsonaro in Brazil is a case in point. Bolsonaro is a far-fight ultra-nationalist who espouses regressive authoritarian politics. His victory represents a serious setback for democracy, world peace and social progress and will have a severe impact on the people of Latin America.
The attitude of the US government with its aggressive anti-Cuban blockade is a manifestation of these right-wing politics. Under the hangover of the Monroe doctrine, the United States cruelly punishes sovereign countries that do not toe its savage line. It considers unacceptable that Venezuela, possessing the biggest world energy reserves and strategic geography, can exercise independent economic and foreign policy and act outside of its hegemonic control.
The NEC therefore condemns imperialist aggression, in particular the failed assassination attempt on President Maduro on the 4th August 2018, through a plan hatched in Columbia and salutes the resolute Bolivarian revolution. It reiterates the call for an immediate end to the United States illegal embargo against Cuba and Venezuela. In this regard NEHAWU will strengthen its campaigns in solidarity with progressive forces and the people in Latin America to combat imperialism and the rise of fascism.
The NEC also calls on the government of South Africa not to forego the health exchange program championed by Madiba and Fidel and to continue the training of more young doctors in Cuba and to receive more Cuban doctors to assist our ailing health system, to save lives particularly in the most vulnerable and rural parts of our country.
The NEC also congratulates WFTU President Mzwandile Makwayiba on his address to the plenary of the ILO 107th International Labour Conference. The WFTU address highlighted the suffering of working people and the “lack of dignified work”, of health and safety measures in the workplace, lack of health coverage, of drinking water, sufficient food. He underlined the unemployment and insecurity especially amongst youth and women who are denied their right to life with dignity.
The NEC appreciates that important resolutions were taken at the COSATU 13th national congress on strengthening the democratic process in Africa, promoting peace, economic development, the creation of quality jobs and improving the lives of people across the continent. In this regard it expresses deep concerns over delays in the implementation of the referendum on self-determination of Western Sahara. It expresses solidarity to the people of Swaziland in their fight the royal regime of King Mswati. At the same time, whilst welcoming the Ethiopia-Eritrea peace agreement, it is deeply concerned with recurring violence in South Cameron, Sudan, South Sudan and calls for solidarity and the peaceful resolution of these conflicts.
It is the NEC view that all the tensions analysed in the NEC reflects the objective interests of the ruling classes of those countries. They are invariably a manifestation of the geopolitical competition in order to change the class balance of forces in their favour. The escalating trade wars between China and the US are a case in point and will likely have an adverse effect on the global economy.
National political situation and socioeconomic situation
The NEC meeting noted with dismay the fact that even after NASREC, our country continues to be plunged into an organic crisis, characterised by stagnation at the level of the economic base combined and mutually reinforcing with decay at the level of the political superstructure. In the midst of the still aggravating crisis levels of unemployment, poverty and inequality, political leadership faded as it became subordinated to the Gupta puppet-masters.
The country is still reeling from the Zuma era which was characterised by state capture, corruption and plundering of state resources by the Gupta dynasty. The Ramaphosa Presidency has the daunting task of reviving the economy, creating decent jobs and ensuring we belligerently implement the radical second phase of our transition to bring betterment into the lives of the working class and the poor. The unity of the ANC is very sacrosanct more especially as we head towards the 6th national elections. As NEHAWU, we remain convinced that the ANC still relevant in trying to create a better life for all.
The national union reiterate its support for the inquiry into state capture headed by Judge Raymond Zondo. We applaud the work done by the inquiry so far and we hope that it will help shed more light on the extent of the rot in the state. For us this is an adequate proof that President Ramaphosa and his collective are resolute about rolling back the advances made by the architectures of state capture and their remnants.
NEHAWU calls for harsh punishment for those implicated in the looting of the VBS bank. Corruption must be uprooted wherever it rears its ugly head. More than 100 workers are about to lose their jobs because of greedy people who can’t keep their hands off the cookie jar and are hell-bent on lining their pockets. The national union supports the COSATU Limpopo decision to embark on a rolling mass action against corruption and VBS looters. In this regard, NEHAWU is going to mobilize all alliance partners, civil society, ordinary people and the VBS depositors, majority of whom are elderly and poor to join the demonstrations.
Punishment must be meted to all those implicated regardless their political affiliation or social standing. In this regard, we call for the immediate implementation of the ANC’s National Integrity Commission recommendation that ANC members implicated in the explosive VBS report must step down from all leadership positions. Equally, we also support the recommendation that says those implicated should be directed by the national executive committee to step aside from all activities of the ANC.
NEHAWU notes the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement [MTBPS] tabled in Parliament by the new Minister of Finance, Cde Tito Mboweni, with grave concerns. As NEHAWU, we are taken aback that the MTBPS is presented under a dispiriting overarching theme that says “South Africa finds itself at a cross roads.” Nonetheless, we recognise that this hardly inspiring theme actually reflects rather underwhelming, conservative thrust of the MTBPS on the following grounds:
• Firstly, despite the announcement of the “stimulus package” by President Cyril Ramaphosa in September, in the MTBPS government is instead actually expecting an even lower economic growth rate, revising it down from 1.5% to 0.7%, and only to recover by a negligible 2.3% in the outer year.
• Secondly, since 2014, government’s macroeconomic policy stance played a decisive role that eventually led to the present recessionary economic conditions – as the Treasury consecutively decelerated spending whilst the SARB maintained a relatively tight monetary policy position.
We call on the Treasury and SARB to drop their Neoliberal dogma, to develop and formulate policies that are responding to the real economic facts and developments – their orthodoxy is leading the country to a disaster.
The ANC policy on building a capable developmental state continues to be undermined by reckless Minister like Mr Mboweni who in their attempt to please international agencies continues to punch holes on the size of the public service when even concrete reality on the ground refutes these lies that South African public service is bloated. Our concrete appraisal points to the opposite that is why the Jobs summit agreement has compelled government to fill critical vacancies. To this end, NEHAWU welcomes the pronouncement that government will fill critical vacancies in the health sector and in the policing services, but we think that this is not enough, much needs to be done.
The national union will not take hands down the continued threats by the Finance Minister, that there will be retrenchments in the public service, we view this threat as an act of provocation and it goes against the recently signed Job Summit agreement. Already, we have noted attempts to retrench workers in State owned entities such as ESKOM, DENEL and SABC. As NEHAWU, we will call upon COSATU to call for a rolling mass action in defence of jobs.
The MTBPS says that “the 2018 public-service wage agreement exceeds budgeted baselines by about R30.2 billion through 2020/21. National and provincial departments are expected to absorb these costs within their R1.8 trillion compensation baselines over the same period.” As NEHAWU, we hope that the Treasury realises that the Resolution 1 of 2018 of the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) is binding on government as the employer.
We therefore, condemn the fact that the Treasury is trying to make the implementation of this resolution to be subject to the vagaries of the often profligate national departments and provinces. Moreover, we also strongly condemn the fact that the Treasury is effectively making the implementation of Resolution 1 of 2018 a haphazard discretionary determination by national departments and provinces, which also puts at risk other critical public service spending items. In this regard, the NEC resolved to take a serious fight to Treasury through mobilizing its members, engaging COSATU and SACP including communities to support its intention to change the orientation of Treasury.
The national union is worried about the Public Investment Corporation [PIC] and the security of workers’ pensions. NEHAWU will continue to demand that workers money be invested in the Government Employee Housing Scheme for public servants rather than being wasted in speculative projects.
We welcome the Presidential Health Summit held on the 19-20 October 2018 as a key development that has taken place in the health sector. We hope that the resolutions will be implemented as soon as possible especially the principle of one country, one health system to serve the whole population and Universal Health Coverage and the National Health Insurance [NHI].
NEHAWU will be hosting a nurse’s seminar on the 13-14 November 2018 in Johannesburg followed by the launch of its 1st Edition of Nurses Magazine. The aim of the seminar is to sharply look at the condition nurses work under as primary caregivers, the role of nurses in the NHI and the transformation of the nursing fraternity. We will also zoom into the closure of vacancies in key sites of the delivery of public services such as hospitals and clinics where the already under-staffed nursing cadre is forced to do the work of the cleaners and potters in addition to their already huge responsibilities that they carry in their duties.
While we recognise that despite the current austerity measures implemented on public spending, increases in social spending in general have not been reversed and this includes post-schooling. Whilst we welcome the fact that the growth of this allocation is higher than inflation, which hopefully would be able to meet the total demand and requirements of poor and working-class students in the MTBPS period, the union will continue to engage with the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Naledi Pandor, to ensure that NSFAS improves its operations so as not to disadvantage poor and working-class students, as has occurred this year and other previous years. In this regard, we will continue to vigilantly fight corruption working with our NSFAS branch and SASCO.
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 The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] rejects the intention by the South African Broadcasting Corporation [SABC] to retrench 981 permanent workers and over 1000 freelancers as part of a restructuring strategy.