The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is appalled by Moeletsi Mbeki‘s views on trade union leadership as it appeared inside a Sunday newspaper. The NUM believes his comments in arguing that the trade union movement has no leadership, no education, no knowledge and expertise are regrettable and unfortunate coming from someone trade unions have always held in high esteem.
On leadership, it is totally incorrect to argue that the union movement lost leadership in 1994 when the bulk of leadership in this country continues to be drawn from the union movement itself. It is yet to be known what yardstick Mbeki uses to measure leadership, knowledge and expertise as he argues. Trade unions are not in the business of entrepreneurship but are there to protect workers and ensure that the playing field is levelled for the working class. Mbeki must clarify to the South African public what he means by saying that the union leadership has "no education".
If by education, he means a PhD in economics, then he must know that the bulk of our members who come through the ranks from the shop floor have not been as lucky as himself who managed to study while people were fighting apartheid and dying in the country. As a matter of fact, the majority of the leaders in the unions studied to varying degrees and under very trying circumstances. Trade Unions are not universities to be run by Chancellors with strings of foreign qualifications and theory that still needs to be translated into practice.
The NUM believes that Mbeki‘s objectivity have been shaded and tainted by personal grudges of his brother‘s recall from the Presidency. Whilst he himself never ran a trade union and displays an incoherent understanding of trade unionism, his analysis displays that lack of knowledge and education on trade unionism and ignorance on the role that unions had played and continue to play in the country under the stewardship of the leaders he argues have no leadership.
Statement issued by Lesiba Seshoka, National Union of Mineworkers head of communications, June 29 2009
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