Politics / 22 December 2013, 08:19am / George Matlala
Johannesburg - As metalworkers union Numsa withdrew its support for the ANC and called for President Jacob Zuma to resign, a survey reveals that most respondents have little confidence in their leader and his cabinet – but remain loyal to the party.
A survey by US-based pressure group Freedom House has found that South Africans polled perceived top government leaders as corrupt.
Neither did the respondents spare Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe in their vicious criticism of the government and its leaders.
“The political executive, in particular South Africa’s president and deputy president, emerge with verdicts that raise serious concern about their credibility and acceptance. The president receives much ridicule and a small number of credits; the deputy president is virtually an unknown entity,” states the study.
“With reference to the recent high-profile corruption scandals, the bulk of participants almost invariably across political, racial and class divides displayed a lack of respect for and confidence in the highest levels of government leadership in South Africa,” it added.
Released this week and titled “Twenty Years of South Africa’s Democracy”, the survey polled 27 focus groups – consisting of six to nine participants each – between June and October this year.
According to the study, conducted by academic Susan Booysen, South Africans still had faith in the ANC and preferred the DA only as opposition.
“The voices in these focus groups talk about the main opposition party, the largely minority-supported Democratic Alliance, as too reminiscent of the racial past. They give credit to the DA for some racial transformation in the party, but they still believe… that the party leader ‘is going to come with some stunts’,” the study stated.
The survey comes on the back of a poll done by market research company Ipsos for the Sunday Times showing that 51 percent of registered voters of the ANC want Zuma to resign.
However, a report by Goldman Sachs – a global investment bank – indicated that the country was doing better under the ANC government even though there was scope for improvement.
With four months before the fifth general elections, the ANC is also facing fierce attacks from one of its traditional labour loyalists.
Numsa, the largest union in the ANC-allied Cosatu, has decided to withhold financial and political support from the ruling party, and has urged its members to vote and participate in any other political formations.
However, Numsa’s radical decisions have triggered ructions in Cosatu.
The civil service union Nehawu, another major Cosatu affiliate, is agitating for action to be taken against Numsa.
Nehawu general secretary Fikile Majola said Numsa no longer belonged to the ANC-led alliance.
“Numsa has chosen to remain in Cosatu in order to continue with its campaign of anarchy in order to weaken and ultimately destroy Cosatu,” he said on Saturday.
“Now that we know that the leading clique of this union does not belong to our broader movement, we do not expect our federation to entertain any discussions with it regarding our long-standing political alignment and our political strategy of the national democratic revolution,” he said.
Earlier in the week, Cosatu warned that action would be taken against those who violate its founding principles.
Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini said the federation would not just expel people, because it ran the risk of playing into the hands of those who want to be expelled and then play victims.
When contacted on Saturday, all Dlamini could say was: “We have to call a special central executive committee on the issue of Numsa.”
But The Sunday Independent understands suspension of Numsa leaders was on the cards.
“We can suspend the leadership and suffocate them. They are the ones misleading workers,” a senior Cosatu leader said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter.
Numsa, through its leaders, cited Zuma’s leadership and the ruling party’s policy direction as the main reasons for withdrawing support.
Jim joined calls by opposition for Zuma to account for the expenditure on the president’s security upgrades in Nkandla (see article below).
The fiery Numsa leader said Zuma’s administration was mired in scandals, nepotism and patronage.
He also pointed out the unauthorised landing of the Gupta family’s wedding guests at the Waterkloof Air Force Base in May, the government’s implementation of e-tolls on Gauteng highways and the signing into law this week of the Employment Tax Incentive Bill, were indications that Zuma’s government was veering away from policies favourable to the working class.
“President Zuma’s administration continues to be characterised by lack of transparency and attempts to hide the workings of the State from the public. An example of this lack of transparency is the passing of the so-called Protection of Information Bill or Secrecy Bill,” he said.
Presidency spokesman Mac Maharaj did not respond to questions on Saturday and ANC spokeswoman Khusela Sangoni said ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe commented earlier this week.
Mantashe said the union was making an incorrect analysis of who constituted the working class and therefore made incorrect decisions.
The ANC government ameliorated the impact of poverty by subsiding sectors and providing state grants, said Mantashe.
“If that is betrayal then I’ll accept their statements.”
However, this seems to have fallen on deaf ears as Numsa stubbornly decided not to endorse or finance the ANC election campaign.
Numsa reportedly spent close to R2 million campaigning for the ANC in the 2011 local elections.
The Sunday Independent was the first to reveal Numsa’s plot to withdraw support for the ANC, a move which was mainly prompted by its support for the suspended Cosatu leader Zwelinzima Vavi.
He addressed the Numsa congress this week, against the wishes of Cosatu.
Numsa also decided that it would form a “united front” similar to the 1980s United Democratic Front while contemplating establishing a socialist movement with the aim of contesting elections.
It said the SACP had failed to lead the socialist cause.
SACP spokesman Alex Mashilo said they “refuse to be coerced by a confused infantile disorder which is anti-communist participation in public governance institutions”.
Numsa has decided to stop paying its subscription fee to Cosatu and indirectly to the SACP in a form of political levy.
But Mashilo said the party had not been getting the political levy for some time and was surviving.
However, Numsa’s resolution to organise in other sectors, including mining, means it would cannibalise its sister union, National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).
NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said his union was not surprised by Numsa’s decision to organise in mining as they were already doing it.
“Remember as the NUM, we have also been approached by Numsa members who are not happy with the politics of Numsa,” he said.