Shop stewards – training ground for councillors!Long time Numsa shop steward, Rain Chiya, has been an ANC councillor since the first democratic elections. She spoke to Numsa News and explained how being a shop steward gave her skills to become a councillor.

What kinds of skills that you learnt as a shop steward have helped you do your job as a councillor?As a shop steward you learn speaking and listening skills and the importance of structures. You are always addressing members and this makes you not afraid to talk to the public. As a shop steward you have to take workers’ mandates – this is the same with a councillor – you must take the community’s mandate.

What about the processes?They are very similar. Say you take up an electricity issue. The next meeting you must give a report back to the community. Once a month you must have a report back.

In factories workers could lodge grievances if they were unhappy with their management and shop stewards would take up their cases. What about community members who claim that government is guilty of “˜poor service delivery’? How are you taking up their grievances?I go to areas where I think that delivery is not happening. I try to ensure that we give reports. But we can’t go into the Democratic Alliance wards – I only go to the ANC wards.

But sometimes people complain saying that the council is not delivering. And yet they are staying on a street where there is delivery. You find them sitting on a new wall or near a Multi-Purpose Community Centre or living in a RDP house but they still say that government “doesn’t deliver”. The ANC needs to produce a booklet to circulate to all its branches spelling out what it has delivered. We do put information on the back of their services statement but it’s not enough. Another problem that happens is that sometimes they deliver houses but they lack electricity. Then it takes time to bring in the electricity. We should be integrating all these things so that people get everything all at the same time then they will feel there is service delivery. But the real problem is that the unemployment rate is too high!

Numsa readers speak out about their concerns in writing and in pictures!

Rape – time for women to say “NO”!Vuyisile FundakubiJudges give rapists light sentences. Why? Suspects are given bail and are then free to go back and continue to rape more women and children. There is no justification for crimes against women and children. I don’t care if the woman is wearing a mini skirt or not – it’s wrong and cruel to rape a woman. In our township, men rape and see it as nothing because that woman is his girlfriend, wife or child. Society does not condemn this behaviour at all. Why? Women have been taken from shebeens, taverns and parties to be raped by men who thought it was just a game of “˜winning’ a girl for the night. Our children cannot grow up in a society that sees rape as nothing major. I want to commend one of Africa’s finest poets and activists, Don Mattera for giving the issue of rape a place on the agenda of the workers’ struggle and for ignoring the views of those who say this has nothing to do with the workers’ struggle. Mattera reduced those that attended the Vodacom Journalist of the Year Ceremony a few years ago to stunned silence when he spoke of how he had lost his daughter after she and her two friends were raped in Zone 10 in Meadowlands, Soweto. All three girls died of Aids. It was the second time his daughter had been raped. It is time for women to say “NO”!

Women’s parliament on the South CoastDoris Nqetho

For three days in August, the Women’s Parliament came to Port Shepstone. The theme of the parliament was “Let’s deepen the debate by women of South Africa” (Masijule ngengxoxo makhosikazi asemzantsi). Officials from various government departments, business women from the district played a very important role in motivating women from both urban and rural areas. At the same time they gave information on how women can play a role in cultivating the economy and not discriminating against the illiterate. The Women’s Parliament sat according to its proportional party representation. The debate was hot. It looked at the changes in the country and different kinds of crime. The sensitive issue of the woman, who was stripped naked, assaulted and banished because she was wearing trousers at 17 Hostel in Umlazi, was discussed. The Parliament called upon the Health and Welfare Department as well as the Safety and Security Department to deal accordingly with the culprits.Results of unemployment in our communitiesKaya ka Yoko and Ncedo Jacobs, VWSA

By now every South African knows exactly where we come from as black South Africans. As a result of our background in the country most blacks are highly competitive in the labour market and the economic situation in this country plays a significant role in contributing to unemployment. Our first democratic government wrestles to address the problem by promoting individual endeavour through VUKUZENZELA which means wake up and initiate on your own. But certain people who are the very same black South Africans kill other people especially black people that take from nowhere. These cruel individuals instead of gathering together and coming up with ideas that will assist in terms of making sure that they survive without hurting anyone, gather themselves and come up with easy, lazy and bad ideas of taking one’s soul for nothing. On August 19 this year in Qeqe Street, Port Elizabeth, one young man was shot to death. The probability is that the deceased was on duty as a private car taxi in order to maintain his family. He was probably killed for less than R200. Our attempts as employed workers to exert pressure on government to create jobs for the unemployed have come to nothing. Perhaps we need to do more in our communities to show that we are also part of the community and we are also blacks as they are. If you work shifts in the morning they wake up to rob us of our cellphones and in the evening they are there to do the same. I think we need to employ the very same strategies that we utilised during apartheid regime to protect our freedom. South Africans must not let the blood of the heroes and heroines that died for freedom bleed for nothing. We must come together and unite.