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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

The Legacy of Brigalia Bam Preserved with a R93 000 Oil Painting at NMMU

Democracy - More Than Just ElectionsDr Brigalia Bam dedicated 12 years of her life as the head of the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) and during this time she played a definitive role in elevating the organisation’s reputation and stature.

Her appointment at the helm of the IEC in 1999 after the resignation of Judge Johan Kriegler came at a time of great pressure – months before the second democratic elections – and was met with much skepticism and criticism. Bam, however, proved the critics wrong and developed an organisation that was true to its promise of a free and fair election.

To read more about this dynamic woman and the inner workings of the IEC, read Bam’s autobiography Democracy – More Than Just Elections, in which she makes a case for electoral reform in post-apartheid South Africa.

To celebrate the role that Bam played in our democracy, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University commissioned an oil painting of her from South African artist Rina Badenhorst. The painting sold for $6 526 (about R93 000). Bam was the Chancellor of NMMU when it was still the University of Port Elizabeth and it is thus fitting that her history should be preserved in the halls of the institution.

View the painting and read more about the artist:

Rina Badenhorst considers herself as a colourist – no light, no colour. The relationships of colour form the backbone of my work and teaching. Over the decades I have developed from strong expressionism in colour to shades of colour, subtleties that translate light.

 
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Cosatu Was a Democratising Force, but Has It Lost Its Way? – Vishwas Satgar Launches Cosatu in Crisis

Cosatu in CrisisVishwas Satgar and Roger Southall’s latest book, Cosatu in Crisis: The Fragmentation of an African Trade Union Federation, was launched at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) in Illovo recently.

The speakers participating in the discussion on the past, present and future of Cosatu included Satgar, labour lawyer Joe Mothibi and former Cosatu national spokesperson Patrick Craven.

“If we didn’t have Cosatu we wouldn’t have the democracy we have today,” Satgar said in his introduction. “Without labour we are not able to redistribute social gains in any country.”

Satgar continued: “In the context of South Africa, where we’ve had very deep inequality, labour has been important. But again, there’s an important question, how far has it gone? Has it gone sufficiently forward to ensure that particularly vertical inequality has been addressed substantively and sufficiently?”

Satgar summarised the central premise of Cosatu in Crisis: “Cosatu’s been a democratising force, but did it lose its way somewhere?”

Watch the video:

YouTube Preview Image

 

Read Katie Kilpatrick’s coverage of the event:

Senior lecturer in International Relations at the University of Witwatersrand Dr Vishwas Satgar said the possibility of a strike-ridden economic environment, characterised by tumultuous industrial relations, was a real threat.

Dr Satgar said Cosatu had lost its way and was facing a multifaceted crisis: Labour unions had lost ground due to bureaucratisation and the undermining of worker control within organisations.

There had also been a structural class shift in the skills base of workers from traditionally unionised, unskilled labourers to semi-skilled, white-collar workers in the public sector that had led to the ascendance of public sector unions.

Book details

  • Cosatu in Crisis: The Fragmentation of an African Trade Union Federation edited by Vishwas Satgar and Roger Southall
    EAN: 9780992232948
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

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Don’t Miss the Launch of Cosatu in Crisis by Vishwas Satgar and Roger Southall at Ike’s Books in Durban

Cosatu in Crisis: The Fragmentation of an African Trade Union FederationKMMR and Ike’s Books and Collectables would like to invite you to the launch of Cosatu in Crisis: The Fragmentation of an African Trade Union Federation edited by Vishwas Satgar and Roger Southall.

Cosatu in Crisis provides an extraordinarily engaged analysis of the underlying causes of the federation’s demise, and provides crucial perspectives on why organised labour is key to understanding the future of alliance politics, industrial relations and democracy.

The event will take place on Thursday, 19 November, at 5:30 for 6 PM at Ike’s Books and Collectables.

See you there!

Event Details

 
Related stories:

 

Book Details

  • Cosatu in Crisis: The Fragmentation of an African Trade Union Federation edited by Vishwas Satgar and Roger Southall
    EAN: 9780992232948
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

» read article

“Cosatu has been Hijacked and Turned into a Labour Desk of the ANC and the SACP” – Numsa

Cosatu in CrisisEarlier this week the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) announced that it is ending its campaign to reclaim its position in the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).

This announcement comes one year after Numsa was officially expelled from trade union federation. The decision to sever ties with Cosatu was made at Numsa’s NEC meeting. In a press release on their website, Numsa said that “Cosatu has been hijacked by the ANC led Alliance turning Cosatu into a labour desk of the ANC and the SACP.”

Distancing itself from Cosatu seems to be one aspect of the union’s broader aim to “create a revolutionary working class governing alternative to the ANC and SACP”. Exploring a Socialist movement in this country was one of the items discussed by Numsa’s NEC. They also touched on the recent student protests throughout South Africa.

After a media briefing by Irvin Jim, Neo Goba wrote an article about the issues for The Times:

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim briefed reporters after the union’s three-day national executive committee meeting, which took place over the weekend, marking a year since its expulsion from Cosatu.

“The dismissal of Numsa has effectively spelt the end of a militant, revolutionary, anti-imperialist, socialist-orientated and Freedom Charter-championing Cosatu.

“Cosatu, to the working class, is as good as dead,” said Jim.

Read Numsa’s statement regarding Cosatu:

Numsa NEC on Cosatu:

The last Numsa NEC held in July 2015 resolved to consult our members once more on whether Numsa should campaign to remain within and reclaim Cosatu. The July 2015 Numsa NEC specifically asked two questions:

‘Should Numsa pursue an appeal at the forthcoming Cosatu Ordinary National Congress?’ Delegates to the November 2015 Numsa NEC brought back mandates from Numsa 9 Regions and 52 locals. The answer was a resounding ‘No’.

In answering this question, from the Numsa rank and file, the unanimous response and mandate from the nine (9) Numsa Regions were as follows;

(a) There is no point in pursuing an appeal in the Cosatu National Congress since the July 2015 Cosatu Special National Congress demonstrated the extent to which the Sdumo clique and their cohorts would go to (1) undermine and disrespect the Federations’ Constitution and (2) Do everything in their power to exclude Comrade Vavi and Numsa from participating in Cosatu to carry out the decisions of the September 2012 Cosatu National Congress resolutions as well as the March 2013 Cosatu Organising, Campaigns and Collective Bargaining Conference resolutions.

(b) According to the Cosatu Office Bearer clique’s view with respect to an appeal regarding Numsa’s reinstatement, Numsa would have no delegation present at the November 2015 Cosatu National Congress and would thus not be able to present constitutional and procedural reasons for why Numsa’s expulsion was unconstitutional, unprocedural and unlawful.

(c) There is no point in appealing to a Cosatu National Congress which has been captured by right-wing and reactionary forces determined to support the ANC/SACP government, despite its neoliberal, capitalist, anti-working class policies such as e-tolling, privatisation, allowance of labour broking (which is tantamount to human trafficking), illicit capital outflows, imports which are killing local manufacturing, retail and services, abandonment of the Freedom Charter, and so on.

(d) There is no point in appealing to a Cosatu National Congress which will, like the Cosatu Special National Congress, exclude the genuinely elected Cosatu General Secretary and Numsa. We are more than convinced, as we were in relation to the July 2015 Cosatu SNC that the Cosatu November 2015 National congress shall be dominated by hand-picked delegates, and a stage-managed “democratic arrangement” with votes by show of hands.

(e) We have fulfilled the directive of the December 2013 Numsa Special National Congress to do everything possible to save and reclaim Cosatu as an independent, militant, democratic, worker controlled, anti-imperialist and socialist orientated federation.

In this regard, the Numsa November 2015 NEC thus resolved;

a) That, as Numsa, we have undertaken all efforts to reclaim Cosatu but that this has been in vain.

b) In executing the December 2013 Numsa Special National Congress resolutions, we must fast track the process of building a New Independent Labour Federation, particularly since 76% of employed workers remain outside of trade unions and their respective federations.

Again the July 2015 Numsa NEC asked a question to all 9 Numsa regions and 52 locals: should Numsa continue with its court case to set aside its expulsion from Cosatu?

The answer from all 9 Numsa Regions and its 52 Locals again was a resounding no.

We cannot waste any more of workers’ money in trying to get a court to force the federation to take us back when it is clear that Cosatu has been hijacked by the ANC led Alliance turning Cosatu into a labour desk of the ANC and the SACP.

The NEC fully agreed with the observations of former NUM General Secretary, and former ANC Secretary General and South African President Kgalema Mothlanthe when he said last week:

“There is no alliance, there is one organisation existing inside the integuments of erstwhile independent organisations, but today to talk about Cosatu as an independent organisation from the ANC or the SACP I think is a delusion.”

Numsa abandoned the ANC and was also expelled from Cosatu for precisely ariving at this correct political position, among other important things! The alliance is dead.

In response, Cosatu put out this brief statement:

The Congress of South African Trade Unions has noted the media statement released by the National Union of Metalworkers {NUMSA}, where they are saying that, they are no longer going to appeal their dismissal at the upcoming COSATU 12th National Congress.

Related news:

Book details

  • Cosatu in Crisis: The Fragmentation of an African Trade Union Federation edited by Vishwas Satgar, Roger Southall
    EAN: 9780992232948
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

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“The IEC Cannot Possibly Fill the Shoes of Brigalia Bam” – Lebo Keswa

Democracy - More Than Just ElectionsIs the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) falling apart without the leadership of Brigalia Bam?

Lebo Keswa writes in her column for Daily Maverick: “We now have an IEC that cannot possibly fill the shoes of Brigalia Bam, who gave the body stature and dignity.”

Keswa questions President Jacob Zuma’s decision to appoint Vuma Mashinini as the head of the IEC over Terry Tselane and takes a closer look inside the IEC.

To discover more about the former leader of the IEC, read Democracy – More Than Just Elections by Brigalia Bam.

Read the article:

Back to the IEC. We now have an IEC that cannot possibly fill the shoes of Brigalia Bam, who gave the body stature and dignity. Why Zuma thinks Vuma Mashinini will be any use for restoring the credibility of the IEC, especially after the Tlakula saga, boggles the mind. Mashinini has only been a Commissioner for six months and Tselane has been a Commissioner for eleven years, Deputy Chair for four years and Acting Chairperson for more than a year. How does our government work? Something does not add up here – I also want friends in high places.

Meanwhile good people everywhere, in parastatals and Chapter Nine institutions, live in fear of being removed from their lucrative board positions.

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“Unity” – Zwelinzima Vavi Sums Up the Strength of the Fees Must Fall Protests (Podcast)

Cosatu in CrisisZwelinzima Vavi recently spoke to Sebenzile Nkambule on her Power FM radio show. The former general secretary of Cosatu reflected on the staggering success of the #FeesMustFall movement.

Nkambule sets out to unpack the way the protest narrative in South Africa functions, and how the recent student protests have changed this. She asks Vavi about what he thinks the students did differently to get it right, when so many workers’ protests have been less successful.

Vavi sums up the strength of the student movements in one word: “Unity”. He says: “The students were united across ideological and political differences.” This dynamic solidarity is something that trade union movements have not been able to marshal in their protests. In student politics, everyone is united in a common struggle and are clear and unrelenting about what they are fighting for.

Political interference, Vavi says, also significantly damages student and worker protests. In light of this, he comments on the relatively negligible success of politicised trade unions. He says Cosatu has been “fatally wounded” by uncomfortably close relations with manipulative politics.

Listen to the podcast:

 

Book details

  • Cosatu in Crisis: The Fragmentation of an African Trade Union Federation edited by Vishwas Satgar and Roger Southall
    EAN: 9780992232948
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

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Join Vishwas Satgar, Zwelinzima Vavi and Loane Sharpe for a Discussion of Cosatu in Crisis in Joburg

Cosatu in Crisis: The Fragmentation of an African Trade Union FederationVishwas Satgar, co-editor of Cosatu in Crisis: The Fragmentation of an African Trade Union Federation, will be taking part in a discussion about crippling challenges currently facing Cosatu.

Satgar will be speaking with Zwelinzima Vavi, former general secretary of Cosatu, and Loane Sharpe from the Free Market Foundation.

The event will take place at Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) in Illovo on Thursday, 5 November. Registration is at 5:45 PM, and the discussion will be from 6 to 7:30 PM. Cocktails will be served afterwards.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 5 November 2015
  • Time: 5:45 for 6 PM, to 7:30 PM
  • Venue: GIBS
    26 Melville Road
    Illovo
    Johannesburg | Map
  • Panel: Zwelinzima Vavi and Loane Sharpe
  • Refreshments: Cocktails
  • RSVP: Sibongile Nkawu, nkawus@gibs.co.za, 011 771 4390
  • More information: Gibs

Book Details

  • Cosatu in Crisis: The Fragmentation of an African Trade Union Federation edited by Vishwas Satgar and Roger Southall
    EAN: 9780992232948
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

» read article

“We are Fully Behind the Call for a Free Education as Promised by the Freedom Charter” – Cosatu on #FeesMustFall

Cosatu in CrisisThe Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) issued statements on Monday and Wednesday in which they expressed their ongoing support for the wave of student protests that have taken the country by storm.

The #FeesMustFall movement have had a ripple effect across the campuses of the University of Cape Town, Wits University, Rhodes University, the University of Pretoria, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, the University of Johannesburg, Stellenbosch University, the University of the Western Cape and more, culminating in the #NationalShutDown movement this week where students have been marching to Parliament in Cape Town, Luthuli House in Johannesburg and the Union Buildings in Pretoria to demand action from government.

In the first statement, Cosatu’s national spokesperson Sizwe Pamla says: “We are fully behind the call for a free education as promised by the Freedom Charter.”

For more on the organisation that has played a crucial role in championing democratisation, read Cosatu in Crisis: The Fragmentation of an African Trade Union Federation edited by Vishwas Satgar and Roger Southall.

Read the article:

We are fully behind the call for a free education as promised by the Freedom Charter. This commodification of education will continue to keep working class children at the bottom end of the economic pyramid.

It is an established fact that higher education is correlated with better employment outcomes and greater labour market participation. For most people a university degree offers an escape from unemployment and grinding poverty. Pricing education out of the reach of most people is suicidal for this country.

Cosatu strongly believe that education should be treated as a societal issue, largely located in the hands of government. The whole concept of institutional autonomy of universities does not work because it disconnects these institutions from the reality of our society.

In the second statement, Pamla reaffirmed Cosatu’s support of free education for all, but cautioned against the flinging of insults against Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande: “Minister Nzimande is not Father Christmas, who will deliver free education, but that is the responsibility of the entire ANC led government.”

Read the article:

We believe that all stakeholders need to have sober and frank discussions on how to resolve the funding, governance/management crises in specific institutions. We are fully behind the campaign to do away with the commodification of education and the call for fundamental transformation of universities.

Whilst we support this campaign, we want to make it clear that we are opposed to the opportunistic attacks directed at the Minister of Higher Education, Cde Blade Nzimande. The responsibility of delivering free education and fix the apartheid fault lines that have led to the current situation, cannot be left at the door of one individual, who is subject to the decisions of both Treasury and the cabinet.

On Tuesday, Cosatu shared their wishlist for the Mid-Term Budget Policy Statement with News24, which includes their expectations for basic education and higher education and training.

Read the article:

Higher Education and Training

Whilst government has done excellent work since 1994 in increasing student bursaries from R10m to R10bn, we expect to hear that the administrative chaos in NSFAS is being addressed and that we are moving towards free tertiary education.

The current crisis at our universities shows that students and their families can no longer bear the high prices being forced upon them. Now is the time for a bold and decisive intervention. We also expect Treasury to reclaim the financial reserves that have been privatised by many universities and are sitting in their accounts.

They should be audited by the Attorney General and turned over to National Treasury for funding of academic projects in schools.

Book details

  • Cosatu in Crisis: The Fragmentation of an African Trade Union Federation edited by Vishwas Satgar and Roger Southall
    EAN: 9780992232948
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

» read article

Cosatu’s Gripes with the ANC, SABMiller and Its Own Affiliates

Cosatu in CrisisCosatu, the powerful union federation that is the subject of Cosatu in Crisis: The Fragmentation of an African Trade Union Federation edited by Vishwas Satgar and Roger Southall, is making its displeasure with respect to ANC government decisions known this week.

In an article for Business Day, Karl Gernetzky reported on Cosatu’s gripes with the ANC. They include e-tolling and the ruling party’s habit of ignoring key policies. Gernetzky writes that Cosatu members will be addressing issues relating to the ANC as well as problems within the federation itself at their upcoming national congress.

Read the article:

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) is concerned that its alliance partner, the African National Congress (ANC), is ignoring key policies on the ownership of strategic levers of the economy, including the governing party’s resolutions to establish a state-owned bank and a state-owned mining company, the union federation said on Friday.

Cosatu is going to have a careful look at the outcomes of the ANC’s mid-term policy meeting at the union federation’s national congress in November, general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said on Friday.

Cosatu has also voiced their dissatisfaction with SABMiller’s takeover by an overseas brewery, and the South African government for allowing it to occur:

“We will never allow a situation where the South African offices of SABMiller are relocated away from South Africa and the local revenues are spiralled out of the country to the detriment of the entire economy,” Cosatu said in a statement.

Book details

  • Cosatu in Crisis: The Fragmentation of an African Trade Union Federation edited by Vishwas Satgar and Roger Southall
    EAN: 9780992232948
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

» read article

Coming Soon: Cosatu in Crisis edited by Vishwas Satgar and Roger Southall

Cosatu in CrisisKMMR is proud to announce Cosatu in Crisis: The Fragmentation of an African Trade Union Federation edited by Vishwas Satgar and Roger Southall – coming soon:

Cosatu has played a crucial role in championing democratisation, and it has been a critical voice for workers. But today, the future of Cosatu is uncertain.

While having to face the challenges to formal employment posed by a rapidly informalising labour market, it is bitterly divided between those who support and those who oppose the alliance with the ruling ANC. Formerly one of the most advanced and respected trade union federations in the world, some see Cosatu as undergoing the degeneration and marginalisation that has characterised the fate of many postcolonial labour movements in Africa.

So what are the implications for South Africa of the threatened disintegration of Cosatu and more importantly – what’s next for Cosatu?

Through the work of leading labour scholars and political analysts, Cosatu in Crisis: The Fragmentation of an African Trade Union Federation provides an extraordinarily engaged analysis of the underlying causes of the federation’s demise, and provides crucial perspectives on why organised labour is key to understanding the future of alliance politics, industrial relations and democracy.

Cosatu in Crisis is a must-read for unionists, business leaders, policy makers, and academics – and for anyone interested in knowing how labour will continue to shape the future of South Africa.

Chapters and themes covered in the book include:

  • Cosatu in crisis: analysis and prospects by Vishwas Satgar and Roger Southall;
  • Lessons from the political strategies of post-independence African trade unions by Ben Scully;
  • Cosatu and the Alliance: falling apart at the seams by Devan Pillay;
  • The changing social characteristics of Cosatu shop stewards by Roger Southall;
  • Cosatu’s organisational decline and the erosion of the industrial order by Christine Bischoff;
  • An afterword presenting possible scenarios for the labour movement by Vishwas Satgar and Roger Southall.

Book details

  • Cosatu in Crisis: The Fragmentation of an African Trade Union Federation edited by Vishwas Satgar and Roger Southall
    EAN: 9780992232948
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

» read article