NEHAWU statement of the 4th plenary session of its 11th National Executive Committee
11 April 2019
The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] convened its 4th plenary session of National Executive Committee [NEC] meeting of the 11th National Congress on the 09th – 10th April 2019. The NEC considered the international context, national political and socio-economic situations including organisational assessment in particular matters affecting our members and the working class in general.
The NEC meeting began by pledging solidarity with the families and people of Malawi, Zimbabwe and especially Mozambique who have lost loved ones in the wake of cyclone Idai which has claimed more than 847 lives with the number set to rise as cases of cholera are on an upsurge. The national union holds a strong view that capitalism should be blamed for the catastrophe because it perpetually destroys the environment by destabilising the planetary ecological system which ultimately leads to unpredictable weather patterns.
The meeting took place during the commemoration of the 26th anniversary of the assassination of Comrade Chris Hani. At the time of his assassination Cde Hani was the General Secretary of the South African Communist Party [SACP] and a member of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress [ANC]. He was a true embodiment of the alliance and a gallant fighter for the freedom we enjoy today.
Lastly, the meeting took place as we are approaching the 6th National General Elections set to take place on the 8th May 2019. The national union has been hard at work in implementing the resolution of its 11th National Congress and COSATU 13th National Congress to support the ANC in the upcoming elections. All levels of the union from national, all nine provinces, 43 regions and branches have been on the ground campaigning for an overwhelming victory of the ANC. As NEHAWU, we are aware of the dwindling electoral support as demonstrated by both the 2014 national general elections and the 2016 local government elections. In this regard, we will redouble our efforts in convincing workers on why they should vote for the ANC.
On the international front
The NEC took place just as we successfully concluded the 15th edition of the Israeli Apartheid Week [IAW] which took place across the globe from the 1st April 2019 to the 7th April 2019. NEHAWU joins millions of South Africans in welcoming the announcement by Minister Lindiwe Sisulu that our Embassy in Tel Aviv has been downgraded to a liaison office. For the past year the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, SA Zionist Federation and the Israeli Embassy have been blackmailing South Africa not to implement the resolution of the 54th ANC Conference to downgrade relations with Israel.
The threats and attacks by the SA Jewish Board of Deputies and Israeli embassy are despicable to say the least. We call on government to continue implementing its resolutions in furthering our solidarity with the Palestinian struggle to end the Israeli occupation and towards the goal of an independent sovereign Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.
NEHAWU joins the public condemnation of xenophobic attacks in Durban earlier this month. The national union is perturbed by the criminal element accompanying these attacks. In this regard, we will join our federation, COSATU, in driving a campaign to educate and build consciousness in our communities in an effort to eradicate all forms of violence directed at foreign nationals in our country. Our freedom as South Africa was in many respects made possible with the international support of progressive people in all African countries and throughout the world. We therefore urge unity and tolerance towards foreign nationals by South Africans.
The NEC meeting condemned the persisting imperialist attacks on Venezuela and the February attempted coup sponsored by the United States of America. The imperialist US insistence on installing a compradore bourgeoisie who is its paid, mercenary puppet, Juan Guaidó as President of Venezuela, is accompanied by brazen sabotage of the Venezuelan economy through criminal sanctions, including sabotage of electricity supply networks, causing serious harm on people’s livelihoods.
NEHAWU reaffirms its international solidarity with the people of Venezuela in defence of the Bolivarian revolution, against US aggression and imperialism. The national union calls on the intensification of international support from workers to stop the American belligerence against the people of Venezuela.
NEHAWU commends the South African Development Committee [SADC] for hosting the first SADC solidarity conference with Western Sahara which took place last month in Tshwane. The aim of the conference was to reaffirm the right of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic to self-determination. We reiterate our support with the Saharawi people and condemn Morocco for maintaining a colonial policy over Western Sahara and the occupied territories and call for the implementation of the decision on the referendum for self-determination. We also call for the protection of Saharawi human rights in the occupied territories and upon the African Union [AU] not to allow the matter of independence of Western Sahara to be swept under the carpet and to place it on top of the agenda of the AU.
National political situation and socioeconomic situation
The NEC of NEHAWU maintains that the political and socioeconomic resolutions of the 54th National Congress of the ANC serve as the main framework and theme for our midterm political programme and posture. The NEC reaffirms the ANC as the leader of our revolution around which the progressive forces of our country should coalesce in order to deepen the on-going struggle for total liberation of the oppressed. To this end, the NEC proclaims our collective optimistic assessment of the current trajectory of the transformation programme, with specific reference to the anticorruption programme aimed at defending the integrity of the state as an instrument for transformation.
As NEHAWU, we believe that an overwhelming victory of the ANC in the upcoming national general elections is necessary to continue with the national transformation project whose successful execution guarantees the welfare of the working class and national development. The NEC reaffirms the NASREC resolutions on the full implementation of the National Health Insurance [NHI], land redistribution programme, building of a developmental state and nationalisation of the reserve bank; these are critical to making progress on the radical change we seek. To this end, the union will exercise maximum effort to ensure an overwhelming victory of the ANC, this include all resources that are necessary to secure the workers vote and achieve the electoral victory of the ANC.
The NEC notes that the candidate list of the ANC includes names of members who have been implicated in allegations of corruption and state capture. The Integrity Commission of the ANC must be empowered to reinforce its authority and competency to guarantee the ANC’s moral standing in the 2019 elections. The empowering of the Integrity Commission includes being given powers to proclaim legitimate and illegitimate candidates on the basis of a clear moral standard to ensure that the ANC has credible candidates that embody our collective renewal.
In order to bring back confidence to our people, the government must be engaged on a ceaseless and systematic effort to root out corrupt practices in its ranks and be seen to be acting against those that are from within government ranks who are associated with corruption.
The NEC meets a month before the May Day celebrations of 2019 and therefore recognised the historic struggles of workers. Inspired by these struggles, we will work extra hard in ensuring that we defend workers against exploitative employers, ensure that we struggle for decent wages and improved working conditions. As the national union we will immediately implement a comprehensive mobilisation programme to mobilise our members and workers at large to attend celebrations of Worker’s Day to be held across the country.
The NEC meeting welcomed the creation of the new National Prosecution Authority [NPA] unit to study offences arising from inquiries into the South African Revenues Services [SARS], Public Investment Corporation [PIC] and state capture. We see this as the practical expression of the broader programme to bring to fruition the restoration of the moral position of the progressive movement and the credibility of the state. This directorate that has been created by the President will intensify government’s campaign to end corruption and state capture.
The national union remains steadfast in its support of the National Health Insurance [NHI] as a vehicle to provide access to health care to everyone regardless of their socio economic status as the current two tier system has resulted in deeply entrenched inequalities. We have been noting treasury’s attempt to sabotage the implementation of the NHI first by attempting to derail the adoption of the NHI bill by Cabinet and later by deliberately dilly-dallying in working out the costs to the fiscus for the money bill which Cabinet directed that the release of the Bill must be accompanied with a money bill indicating the related costs to the fiscus.
NEHAWU is more than determined to wage a relentless war against anyone who blocks the full implementation of the NHI including those who peddle lies that the NHI will lead to job losses. In this regard, we call on all South Africans to join hands in defending the NHI and safeguard it against dark forces.
The NEC meeting welcomed the decision by the Minister of Higher Education and Training to allocate R967 million to settle the historic debt owned by students through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme [NSFAS]. However, we continue to hold a strong view that we need a comprehensive dialogue on the NSFAS model and its role in rolling out free education. As NEHAWU, we will intensify our call for the ANC to implement its resolutions on higher education as a matter of urgency.
The issue of understaffing in the public service remains a huge problem for the national union and the country at large. As NEHAWU, we have consistently highlighted the fact that most of the problems that engulf the public service especially in health and education are as a result of staff shortages. We remain vehemently opposed to the misguided trite by the Minister of Finance that the public service is bloated. Our members are at the coalface of service delivery and on a daily basis they have stories to tell on how they are overstretched to perform tasks that are not part of their job description without being remunerated for it.
The national union will ensure that there is proper engagement at the PSCBC on the government’s offer on the voluntary early retirement scheme and the natural attrition to ensure that the scarce and critical posts are not willy-nilly left unfilled especially those relating to scarce skills and critical posts. We will intensify our call for the filling of all funded vacant posts in defence of service delivery, our overworked members in particular and workers in general.
NEHAWU rejects the proposed restructuring of ESKOM into three sub-entities, which given the present crisis of sustainability facing ESKOM and the talk of privatisation, its generation entity would not be able to compete with the IPPs and some of the power stations that are still new such as Medupi and Kusile are eventually likely to be put on a fire-sale privatisation. The national union will proactively mobilise to oppose this restructuring which is nothing but an asset-striping exercise.
The national union has been following the commission of Inquiry into allegations of impropriety with hawk eyes and will await the outcomes when it concludes its work. NEHAWU will play a proactive role in ensuring that the PIC ceases bad investment decisions and averts corruption. We condemn the attempt to temper with the ongoing commission including intimidation of witnesses. We also call on law enforcement agencies to protect those whose lives are threatened for testifying at the commission.
NEHAWU will continue to demand that workers money be invested in the Government Employee Housing Scheme for public servants rather than being wasted in speculative projects. We remain vehemently opposed to investments that do not benefit workers while about 87% of the PIC’s investment funds are public servants’ pension funds. NEHAWU reiterates its call for the Minister of Finance to immediately appoint an interim board that will handle the business of the PIC until a proper board is installed.
NEHAWU applauds the National Council of Provinces for passing the PIC Amendment Bill and we call on the President to expedite the process of signing it. As NEHAWU, we believe that the bill will play an imperative role in ensuring that there is less acts of impropriety at the PIC. The bill will be instrumental in promoting transparency and provision for labour unions to have a say in the investment of workers' money through representatives at minimum of three in the board of the PIC.
We welcome the decision by SANRAL not to pursue legal action against e-toll defaulters. While we welcome this progressive decision, our view is that the public should not be made to pay for using public roads. NEHAWU condemns the undermining of the decision by SANRAL by the Minister of Finance. In this regard, we call on the ANC to reign in the Minister who acts like he is a super Minister who can do as he pleases without repercussions.
The national union is alarmed by the announcement of the outsourcing of the construction of dams by the Minister of Water and Sanitation. We have been at the forefront of fighting the scourge of outsourcing and agentisation of the state. We have also made the department aware of the pitfalls of outsourcing and the financial implications attached to that. In this regard, NEHAWU is more than determined and ready to mobilise its members to fight any forms of outsourcing of the key functions of the department.
Lastly, as NEHAWU we are extremely worried by the growing levels of violence in our public schools. Recently we have seen an upsurge in the violence directed to both teachers and pupils with a few teachers losing their lives in the North West and Limpopo province. We call on the law enforcement agencies to look into this issue as a matter of urgency. We will support our sister union SADTU to ensure that they work in safe environment while our children are also protected in the school premises.
Issued by Khaya Xaba, Media Liaison Officer, NEHAWU, 11 April 2019