Sunday, August 14, 2016

COSATU Joint Political and Socio-Economic Commission Meeting's Statement on Election Results
12 August 2016

The Congress of South African Trade Unions convened a Politico- Socio -Economic commission to discuss the latest political and socio-economic developments in the country, including the outcomes of the latest Local Government Elections. The meeting resolved that this is an exceptional period for the federation and its unions, which demands extraordinary dedication and urgency on the part of all our structures and leadership collective in defence of our revolution. The reality is that the ANC won these elections and we want to extend our deepest appreciation to the work done by the workers and our people all over the country, who campaigned and voted for the victory of the ANC. Whilst ,we are not blind to the fact that there is consistent decline in the ANC's share of the votes in many areas, we denounce an imposed public narrative that seeks to paint a picture that the ANC has lost the local government elections and that the DA has won. This is an age old political canard by the media and social commentators to downplay some victories for others and manufacture and magnify some non-existent victories for others. The reality is that the DA has not won the municipalities that the ANC has failed to retain but there is a stalemate. We refuse to ignore the millions of South Africans, who voted for the ANC in their numbers, in defence of the revolution.

Whilst, the recent election results are disheartening and disappointing, for the ANC, they also reflect the international trends with regards to voter apathy and overall poor voter turnout during local government elections. This electoral setback, of course, merits a deep analysis by the ANC and the Alliance in general, from which important lessons must be learnt. There must be no finger pointing or apportioning of blame to individuals, but all our alliance formations must conduct a frank and honest introspections, on how they contributed to the current elections results. We are calling for an urgent Alliance meeting to develop a shared perspective on the challenges and the way forward. The ANC as a people's movement must revisit what it stands for and remain true to its own mission.

COSATU has concluded that these results are also reflective of the international political trends, where we have seen many left leaning or progressive governments experiencing serious electoral losses. In Brazil, we have seen the fortunes of the progressive Workers Party diminishing, as reflected by the ongoing right wing offensive ,which is presented as a crisis that has resulted in the suspension of President Dilma Roussef ; Mauricio Macri won the Argentinean elections defeating the progressive government of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. In Venezuela the opposition Democratic Unity Alliance won two thirds of the 167 seats in parliament elections last year, dealing a huge blow to the peoples' Bolivarian Revolution. The Brexit vote and the emergence of racist , conservative right-wingers such as , Donald Trump in the US points to this rightwing resurgence.

While, the ANC's failure to win an outright majority in some of the country's metropolitan municipalities, that have been under its control since 1994, represents a strategic setback for the ANC; it would be a mistake to exaggerate the nature of this political crisis, without taking into account the fact that it is unfolding at a time of persistent economic downturn of global capitalism, to which semi-peripheral countries such as South Africa are particularly vulnerable. This has made it easy for counterrevolutionary forces like the DA to mobilise the people.

Economic Transformation

The ANC and its government needs to answer a question, on how do we deal with this new reality of the global capitalist crisis, which is now being used to dislodge progressive governments , undermine progressive policies since it is now projected to last more than a decade. COSATU believes that potentially these disappointing results should act as a catalyst towards a more radical second phase of our democratic transition. COSATU expects the South African government to change its overall strategy with regards to its fiscal policy framework, including its adoption of regressive policies that are only focusing on cutting social expenditure. Our rate of inequality and unemployment problems will continue to grow as long as we fail to improve our industrialisation and also stop the ongoing job losses . The clear message that the voters are communicating to the ANC government is that they do not want e-tolls; they reject labour brokers, and are tired of casualisation and demand a living wage. Corruption, bureaucratic arrogance, mediocrity and overall incompetence should be rooted out of our government and government must also intensify the programme of curbing wasteful expenditure that we have seen over the years.

The meeting concluded that without exaggeration, judging by the local government election results, the ANC's decline and degeneration will lead to a calamitous implosion if things remain the same. Unless the movement itself takes responsibility to resolve its internal problems that have weakened it from within; and also unless each component of the movement self corrects going-forward, the decline will result in a shattering collapse.

In the midst of this evolving political situation, we cannot afford to have our political leadership distracted by factional politics and scandals. We need a shift in priorities and posture and move away from policies that are geared at pleasing finance monopoly-capital and the sovereign rating agencies to the ones that are based on the 2014/2016 ANC Manifestos. The ANC needs to act decisively in implementing its manifesto and all the progressive policies.

On Coalitions

COSATU first preference is an electoral re-run in the hung municipalities and in the case where the ANC decides to enter into coalitions , we want the ANC to only enter into principled coalitions.

The message from COSATU is that we do not expect the ANC to work with the DA. We do not want a coalition with racist political parties that are there to defend the interest of white monopoly capital. The DA remains the biggest threat to the aspirations and goals of the workers, the working class and the black majority in particular.

The DA is the same party that was prepared to take the ANC government to court in defence of labour brokers. If the DA and its labour broking friends have their way, millions more workers will be plunged into poverty and despair, and we will be on our way to a national catastrophe. This is the same party that went to parliament and moved a motion on a Bill, which was effectively calling for the scrapping of the right to strike. The DA Mayoral Candidate in Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba and his Free Market foundation allies filed a case with the Gauteng High Court, challenging the principle and practice of extending bargaining councils agreements in South Africa to non parties. For Workers, the DA remains a racist party of bosses.

Purging of Municipal workers

COSATU wants to warn the DA, to dare not try to victimise workers and do anything to erode their hard won rights in municipalities, where it will be in charge! The plans by the DA to purge workers and add to the unemployment line will be regarded as a declaration of war by the federation. We are calling on all our unions to work hard on strengthening the unity of the workers on the ground. The harsh reality now is that workers cannot afford the luxury of playing petty politics or to be divided and defocused by their sectarian differences, when other class forces are shaping the future of our country. This means that our unions cannot escape the heavy responsibility, now on their shoulders, of building working class power in the work place, in our communities and all other strategic centres of power. Voting day should be a non trading public holiday

COSATU demands that the voting day be declared a non- trading holiday. We are troubled that many vulnerable workers, such as farm workers were denied their right to vote and as COSATU working with the IEC and other relevant authorities will be revisiting this human rights violations. We are not going to allow this issue to be left unattended.


The meeting also offered its unwavering solidarity to the unions that are currently on strike fighting for living wages and better working conditions for the workers. We support the intensification of the strike by Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers' Union {CEPPWAWU} working with the provincial structures of the federation and other affiliates. We call for more pickets and demonstrations and solidarity activities by other unions. We are also fully behind the Communication Workers Union in its ongoing struggles against MTN/Telkom/WNS. We urge all progressives to join CWU in the trenches against the big exploiters. We congratulate the National Union of Mineworker's for managing to resolve their strike against Eskom and for achieving decent salary increases for the workers. The union managed to achieve a salary adjustment of 8, 5% to 10% on a sliding scale, and a R2860 housing allowance over a period of two years.

As COSATU, we are going to the ground to embark on a listening campaign to understand properly the message being communicated by our people in these recent local government elections.

Issued by COSATU

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