Cosatu takes aim at some Cabinet ministers

2016-05-26 17:25


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Johannesburg - The Congress of SA Trade Unions on Thursday said some Cabinet ministers had a "troubling pattern of behaviour" and accused them of targeting the federation's affiliates in public.

Addressing reporters in Johannesburg following a central executive committee (CEC) meeting, the trade union federation singled out Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

On Gordhan, Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said he had not been helpful to the cause of the working class and accused him of being one of the ministers who reviewed and misinterpreted the policies of the ANC.

"He has continuously used public servants as a scapegoat for the country's economic woes and his austerity measures are hitting the working class hard," he said.

The CEC resolved to lobby for a National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) summit with jobs and the economy being the priority.

It was clear that South Africa could not rely on foreign direct investment and that it could not be a solution to the jobs problem in the country, Ntshalintshali said.

Call for state intervention

"We are worried that Treasury has only spent its energies on pacifying foreign investors that have so far done nothing to rescue our economy.

"The meeting expressed concern that the second radical phase is stillborn, and there is no real visible effort from government to fundamentally shift the economic trajectory, and also transform the structure of our economy to address... poverty, unemployment and inequality," he said.

Cosatu called for decisive state intervention in strategic sectors of the economy and said it was worried that the government was refusing to use a variety of macro-economic and other levers to regulate and channel investment in job intensive areas of the economy.

Asked whether Cosatu had lost confidence in Gordhan, its president Sdumo Dlamini said that was a "narrow channelling" of the problem.

"We're dealing with an institution, not with individuals. Treasury is not Minister Gordhan. We see from that institution a continuous negation of the policies that seek to support the radical socio-economic transformation and it affects us the workers directly," Dlamini said.

On the mineral resources minister, Ntshalintshali accused Zwane of having "lied" about the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and refusing to engage with the union.

"He has been very reckless and divisive in the manner that he has been dealing with stakeholders in the sector."

In defence of the federation

He said the NUM had expressed anger and disappointment during the CEC at Zwane's refusal of their invitation to address them.

Ntshalintshali accused Motshekga of colluding with opposition parties and engaging with them on what he calls "misinformation" against the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu).

"Cosatu views these attacks as an attack on the federation itself and will not allow itself to be victimised."

Sadtu has been embroiled in a "jobs for cash" scandal. A report was recently released by a ministerial task team after an investigation into the matter.

"The attacks on Cosatu unions are systematic and consistent, especially targeting our bigger affiliates," Ntshalintshali said.

"We view this as an attempt to weaken and liquidate the federation and we are ready to close ranks and defend the federation."

Read more on:    cosatu  |  johannesburg  |  parliament 2016

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