The real business of the NGC

No rest for ‘two economies’

It seems that the issue of the two economies just won’t go away. Early this year Cosatu managed to quash an ANC document that proposed exemption for small businesses from certain regulations and collective bargaining arrangements.

At the ANC’s national general council (NGC) held in July, the issue came up again. Once again, Cosatu squashed the issue, “but watch the issue,” says Numsa vice president, Cedric Gina , “it will come back to Nedlac!”

And probably sooner rather than later if recent government statements are a guide. The NGC resolved to develop a “clearly articulated industrial strategy” to address the challenges of poverty and unemployment. It also said that “further research” was required to “quantify the effects of labour market regulation for job creation, particularly in the second economy.”

Now deputy finance minister, Jabu Moleketi, has made it clear that such an industrial strategy would include labour reforms. The minister of labour, Membathisi Mdladlana, has also said that his department is examining the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, the Labour Relations Act, the Employment Equity Act and the Skills Development Act to see what impact they have on job creation.

However, if President Mbeki’s comments on July 24 are anything to go by, there could be some protection for casual workers who he said were being relegated to a “life of near poverty”.

Cosatu’s Central Committee in mid-August (see page 10) is due to consolidate its own industrial strategy. Watch out for some “engagement” with government after that! Watching or reading the commercial media, one could be forgiven for thinking that the ANC’s July national general council (NGC) was mostly about the JZ affair. And yet according to Numsa vice president, Cedric Gina , there was much interesting debate.

Industrial policy was firmly put on the agenda while a proposal for a permanent electoral commission that would manage the list process in future elections received a resounding “NO”.

Likewise a proposal for branches to be set up around places of work rather than where people live was also squashed. The multi-class nature of the ANC seems to be causing some problems for professionals who find themselves in branch meetings alongside their domestic workers!

Gina praised secretary general Kgalema Motlanthe’s organisational report for its honesty. It came down heavily on corruption and pointed out that only 50% of ANC branches across the country were functioning.

Many of these Motlanthe described as being “conflict-ridden” with “no sustainable political programmes and campaigns”. Reasons for this depressing situation were not ideological but could be found in “the preoccupation on the part of public representatives with securing access to and control over public resources”.

This in turn led to the situation where ANC branches failed to respond to burning issues facing their members. In some cases, ANC members had set up parallel structures to deal with these problems as has been seen in the recent municipal service delivery protests.

Remember August 9 – National Women’s Day

Wathint` abafazi, Strijdom! Wathint` imbokodo uzo kufa! On August 9, 1956, 20 000 women from all parts of South Africa marched on the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against a new law that forced them to carry passes.

“Passes mean prison; passes mean broken homes; passes mean suffering and misery for every African family in our country; passes are just another way in which the Government makes slaves of the Africans; passes mean hunger and unemployment; passes are an insult…” read their pamphlet to motivate women to join their march.

Prime Minister Strijdom, who had been notified of the women`s mission, was not there to meet the women. Instead they left bundles of petitions at his door containing more than 100 000 signatures. Outside the Government building, they stood silently for 30 minutes, their hands raised in the Congress salute.

(Information taken from www.sahistory.org.za )