Video by Kamogelo Moichela
Johannesburg - Cosatu held a post-CEC (central executive committee) press briefing on Thursday in Cosatu House, Braamfontein, to outline and give a report on what had transpired in their meeting.
Taking the stand, general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said the central executive committee had a three-day meeting, from May 23 to 25, to address the continuation of job losses that have radically worsened their rate of unemployment and also the problems of electricity cuts, as well as fuel prices that have shot so high that it makes the workers’ lives hard to survive.
He said the purpose of their meeting was to call on the government to take heavy steps to fix problems and stop outsourcing its responsibility to the private sector.
“We also call on the government to extend the temporary fuel levy reduction of R1.50 beyond May 31, while exploring a more sustainable solution,” he said.
Ntshalintshali mentioned that the CEC deeply expressed its sadness over the ongoing femicide in South Africa. He said they extend their message of condolences to the families of Namhla Mtwa, Bontle Mashiyane, Hilary Gardee, and many others, who were brutally murdered across the country.
During the post-CEC briefing, Ntshalintshali called on the law enforcement agencies to do whatever it takes to arrest perpetrators who continue to kill women. He maintained that the government should be hands-on and step in to fight against gender-based violence (GBV) that is terrorising the country.
He further stated that the CEC supports the workers’ strike at Sibanye-Stillwater, University of South Africa and Sars led by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) and National Union of Mineworkers (Num).
“We support all striking workers, in all sectors of the economy, and encourage them to defend their unity,” he said.
According to Cosatu, workers are showing everyone what should be done to get things straight and running.
“We are also calling for Orange Grove Farms to engage with workers and resolve their legitimate demands, and we support our affiliated union, SACTWU, in ensuring that workers’ rights and needs are championed and defended,” Cosatu said in a statement.
Addressing what happened in Rustenburg during May Day celebrations, the federation expressed their regrets to ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa and general secretary of the SACP Blade Nzimande, who were unable to deliver their messages of support due to disturbances.
However, on the disruptions that happened on May Day, Cosatu president Zingisa Losi got a report that it was not just in Rustenburg, “there were others in certain provinces where possible disruptions could have happened, and we say we take that as a message that workers and those that were in those stadiums, were sending to the alliance, ANC (party) and Cosatu.”
She explained that even with the reflection they made, it was not only the reflection that Cosatu CEC made towards the other alliance components, but to themselves as well.
“One other thing that Cosatu has accepted is that, for example, workers being disgruntled in Sibanye – when they are sitting at the Union Buildings since Friday last week, with a hope that the president is going to make interventions on the issues of Sibanye.
“But there are unions in workspaces that are meant to represent workers. We had to do an honest reflection of ourselves, as a trade union federation within our affiliates, to say whether we are with our members, are we servicing our members, what are our shortcomings, and weaknesses, and what is it that we need to do to strengthen ourselves in uniting the workers across our affiliates, and beyond Cosatu, "she said.
Losi did not give a straight answer to whether the reaction from the workers was not a sign of no confidence for the ANC or not.
“We don't think Rustenburg should be made as a point of measurement to the entire ANC itself because Rustenburg was just but one rally out nine rallies that Cosatu held, and I think we will be making a mistake if we were to make that assessment overall to say there is a vote of no confidence in the ANC because of what happened in Rustenburg,” she maintained.
She further said the reality of the matter is that there are issues that workers are not happy with, judging from the reaction in Rustenburg, expressing that they are not happy with what has taken place in their workspace in Sibanye-Stillwater.
“It is a private company, but workers believed that if they were to come to the rally and let the president of the ANC understand the situation that is taking place under the mining bosses, it would bring attention to what is taking place in Sibanye to the fore,” she said.
Furthermore, in terms of politics, the Cosatu CEC said in a statement that: “The CEC noted the release of the SACP and ANC Policy Papers, and the Federation shall engage and respond to these documents in the build-up to both the ANC Policy Conference and the SACP National Congress, in July.
“As members of these formations, of our movement, and as part of the federation, we shall ensure that all the necessary preparations and interventions are made, leading to these important gatherings, including ANC’s National Conference in December.”
Cosatu told the media that the CEC received a report on the preparations for the upcoming 14th National Congress, to be held in September at Gallagher Estate, Midrand.