2012: Notable year for the working class
This year has again been a year of crisis in mining, arguably the bedrock and foundation of our economy.
The Marikana workers go on strike, and therefore massive killings by police have put firmly on our radar screen the question of legitimacy of unionism in this sector and of union leadership.
Has the threat of a rival union posed a question about the current strength of our collective bargaining within the chamber of mines in terms of quality? Is it still progressive for our members, generally across Cosatu, to take strike action wielding dangerous weapons?
On the other hand, the Marikana debacle has also posed questions about the legitimacy of the state as the official bearer of law and order, expressed in the form of the police.
Did government, through the departments of energy and labour, intervene timeously by arbitrating on the impasse to prevent the degeneration into violence?
We hope that Farlan commission will shed light through its strategic recommendations to the country. At the end of it, no one should apportion blame, mechanically exploiting the climate this episode has brought.
All of us must draw lessons for future potential occurrences of a similar scale.
This year the country witnessed the distasteful reality of school children in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape going to school without the state supplying textbooks. The recent interventions notwithstanding, the jury is out to see the end of year results of these learners.
Recently the country was confronted with ugly scenes of house demolitions in Lenasia by the department of human settlement in Gauteng. These removals and demolitions were viciously conducted in a manner similar to the forced removals of people from what the apartheid government called “black spots”, such as Sophiatown in Johannesburg, Mkhumbane in Durban and District Six in Cape Town.
Whatever the rationale might be for these sordid acts by government, the fact remains that it was a wrong decision, callous and lacking in the moral sanctity expected from the government of the people.
Nevertheless, the year was not entirely one of doom and gloom. The census report has been released and trends in various areas indicate some encouragement for the future. In the past ten years there has been a growth in the percentage of young people passing matric.
The move by government to deploy resources in the FET Colleges as a post-schooling alternative to university is a handy one to diversify training and offload the heavy burden on universities.
Another positive development was our own Minister of Home Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, being elected as a first female African Union chairperson. We hope that the country will continue to support her in this mammoth task.
Through the department of science and technology, South Africa won the SKA bid to co-host, with Australia, a major step forward in terms of advancing the study of the cosmos.
For Numa, the year was a positive one. We continued to register growth of membership. We continued to occupy the high ground in the sectors we are organising.
We had a very successful national congress in Durban characterised by high level of maturity among delegates and an appetite to engage on issues. Our congress was preceded by regional congresses that were, in large measure, very successful.
We close the year as a union that is satisfied, proud of itself and ready for an energetic start to the New Year.