No reason to celebrate Freedom Day: Numsa
Cape Town - Trade union NUMSA said on Tuesday it was not celebrating Freedom Day because there was very little for the working-class majority of the country to celebrate.
Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said in a statement that April 27 in 1994 was a historical moment for the people as millions queued for the very first time to make their mark in the country’s first democratic elections.
“We had so much hope. We believed that by making a simple mark on the ballot sheet, centuries of colonial subjugation and suffering would be brought to an end,” Jim said.
“We believed that democracy would mean equality and freedom for us and for our children. Unfortunately, history has shown how wrong we were,” he said.
Jim said 27 years into democracy, the African majority remained enslaved by the bondage of poverty, unemployment and crippling inequality.
Citing statistics from Oxfam, a confederation of charity organisations, and Statistics South Africa, Jim said South Africa was the most unequal society in the world.
“It is a country where, according to Oxfam, the average white male CEO ‘earns the same as 461 black women in the bottom 10% of earners’, and where the richest 20% control 70% of the country’s resources.
“Almost half the population lives in abject poverty, according to Stats South Africa, 49.2% of the population over the age of 18 falls below the upper-bound poverty line.”
He also said the situation has been worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic which left 1.4 million jobless and more job losses expected because state-owned entities were restructuring.
Jim took a swipe at the ANC saying it has been a dismal failure in addressing unemployment, poverty and inequality.
“The ANC has betrayed its historic mission in order to pander to the demands of Neo-liberal factions of capital. Treasury is leading the attack against the working class by implementing an austerity budget with drastic cost-cutting measures which are directly targeting ordinary working-class families.”
Jim also said the disruptions brought by Covid-19 pandemic provided an excellent opportunity for the state to intervene in the economy and make radical changes to boost economic growth by driving an aggressive job-led industrialisation and manufacturing policy.
“It should have introduced policies to strengthen social security nets such as basic income grants and the implementation of a wealth tax. However, the ANC keeps proving that they are a government of the elite and their attack on the working class is unrelenting,” he said.