Johannesburg - DA leader Helen Zille has described a booklet distributed by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), in which she is featured as a cartoon character discussing anti-worker policies, as “goofy speech bubbles”.
In its campaign against the National Development Plan (NDP), Numsa has resorted to cartoons depicting Planning Minister Trevor Manuel and Zille as being in cahoots against the workers’ struggle.
Numsa said it had commissioned the cartoons and distributed copies to its members as a drive to educate them about the NDP. The booklet, published in a number of languages, shows cartoon characters of Manuel and Zille sharing their common views on the NDP.
The NDP outlines government plans to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030.
Numsa, which shares strong views with the embattled Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, believe these plans will be at a cost to workers.
The union has placed the NDP in stark contrast to the Freedom Charter, widely regarded as the document the ANC uses as a guideline for its vision to improve the lives of all South Africans.
The ANC, however, adopted the NDP at its Mangaung conference in December, only for it to be openly rejected by Numsa and Vavi, while other Cosatu affiliates have called for deliberations and debate about the document.
Vavi has consistently criticised the NDP. He said at a recent Numsa bargaining conference: “It is simply unfair for anyone, in particular our ally the ANC, to ask us to co-operate with our own oppression and exploitation, which are the NDP’s major proposals.
Numsa spokesperson Castro Ngobese said his union had commissioned the cartoon booklet for educational purposes and to raise awareness among members that the “NDP cannot be a revolutionary programme”.
Ngobese said the NDP “represents a departure from the Freedom Charter and is no different to DA policies. He added that “some proposals were lifted directly from DA policies”.
Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said this week: “We think there is a crisis. Capitalists are very happy with the NDP. Instead of implementing the Freedom Charter, they have the NDP, which does not embody the spirit of the Freedom Charter.
“The NDP takes us back to the dark days of apartheid. We’re of the view that we must sit with the ANC and deliberate this matter.”
One of Zille’s bubbles in the booklet reads: “It must be easier to hire and fire workers. Then employers will employ more.” Manuel replies “yes” to this.
After discussing a string of issues, Zille says to Manuel: “But won’t there be some in the alliance who will oppose it?” Manuel replies: “Yes. It will be necessary to weaken Cosatu but it will be done.”
Zille was sent the cartoons and asked to comment on whether it represented her views on the NDP, and this is what she had to say: “This is a comic book, and policies are reduced to goofy speech bubbles to make Numsa’s political opponents look like Mickey and Minnie Mouse. No one will take it seriously.”
Attempts to get Manuel to respond to the cartoons drew a blank on Wednesday. - The Star