MEDIA STATEMENT BY THE
INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
SADESMO's Online Letter - Students Today
It is with great pleasure that SADESMO brings you a weekly online newsletter about current events in South Africa. Students of all disciplines will put forth their views for your constructive analysis and interrogation. Let the dialogue begin, and let it begin with you!
Dear South Africa,
Over the years, the working community of South Africa has had to take on the daunting task of having to down tools and strike before their needs, wants and demands are addressed. It has become increasingly abnormal for any wage dispute to be settled without strike action needing to be part of the settlement process.
This year is no different, and the more things stay the same the more we will continue witnessing these crippling but necessary strikes.
SADESMO is concerned about the abject working conditions which many workers are subjected to, and the lowly remuneration packages they take home at the end of each month. Our concern stems from the reality that, as students, we are the workers of tomorrow. We are the ones who will suffer these conditions and take home the poor salaries government is choosing to pay.
This week, South Africa has again been brought to a grinding halt because of a government that promises people heaven and earth; the promise of "A Better Life For All" did not materialise. The collective patience of South Africans is dwindling fast, as is apparent through the many strikes and service delivery protests throughout the country.
The thirst and hunger for improved service delivery is upon us; the mood for change is fast consuming South Africa. The tide is turning, and not even the much anticipated World Cup was enough to allay the anxieties of South Africans, let alone begin to improve their lives.
South Africa is in a state of crisis, and shall remain so for as long as the broader electorate is blinded by liberation sentiments which have long passed their sell-by date. Elections must be about issues and policies, not about historic jargon and populist rhetoric. The pre-1994 struggle was about political freedom, which we collectively worked towards achieving; our dreams were realised in 1994. To all the struggle heroes; we shall forever be grateful because, through you, we are free.
However, political freedom on its own is not enough. We need to wage a new struggle against the socio-economic oppression which continues 16 years into our democracy. The electorate, including workers, must not bind themselves to political affiliation that is not producing positive results and is failing to respond to even the most basic needs.
Times have changed. Dynamics have changed. Politics has changed. The list of changes goes on and on. But the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same.
This week we have witnessed another painful strike, after another bruising one earlier this year waged by SATAWU. At least 90 000 teachers stayed away from school, leaving thousands of learners destitute. Education has had to bear the brunt of this strike, as has always been the case over the years.
Sadly, this does not come as a surprise, because education has never really been at the coalface of ANC priorities; and that is why it seems "ok" for teachers to strike without the ANC-led government batting an eyelid.
COSATU is largely leading this strike against the very ANC that it is in a polygamous marriage with. It is becoming increasingly clear with each passing strike that COSATU is not as powerful as it makes itself out to be in the alliance. Its voice is obviously not being heard. COSATU is only good for organising and delivering votes. Beyond that, the picture speaks for itself.
Trade unions are an integral part of any democratic stability and improve the health of checks and balances. They must ensure that the collective livelihoods of workers are improved, sustained and protected. That becomes difficult, by any measure, if trade unions dirty themselves with the goings-on of party politics. The expected success, neutrality and objectivity of trade unions are relinquished when they play second fiddle to political parties.
COSATU's bedfellow alliance with the ANC is not yielding positive results for the greater good of the workers. COSATU must become independent and rise above politics.
The strikes point to a big failure on the ANC's part yet, come elections, COSATU will be ranting and raving about how wonderful the ANC is. Workers' interests are not being served well here. Workers are being taken for a ride, and if they think this one is bumpy, a gut feeling says the worst is yet to come!
After all is said and done, power will change hands. And when it does we hope COSATU will have risen to the moral high ground of independence, and hold all government to account without fear or compromise.
COSATU's political convictions prune it of power which it would otherwise do well to have. There is a serious need for renewed dialogue on this matter of politicised unions. We need to talk about it.
This week's strike says a lot about what is going on in the alliance bed; someone is not delivering!
SADESMO still believes in education for liberation; education for life.
SADESMO: National Spokesperson
083 871 2711 / 073 1667 904