The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) in Limpopo has dismissed provincial ANC chairperson Stanley Mathabatha’s statement that the alliance partners in the province have kissed and made up.
In preparation for the upcoming much-anticipated 2024 elections, the Mathabatha-led ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) agreed last week to set aside their differences and work together with Cosatu and the South African Communist Party (SACP) to keep the party in power.
However, Cosatu resolved to take Mathabatha on by marching to his government offices on Friday demanding that he attend to their demands, chief among them being the dismissal of health MEC Phophi Ramathuba.
Cosatu provincial secretary Hangwani Mashao said their protest march was in line with International Day for Decent Work, which is annually held on October 7, which happened to be a Saturday this year.
“The International Day for Decent Work comes after the National Day of Action on 6 July 2023, where Cosatu in the province raised several shortcomings, which exist in the Limpopo provincial government departments and several other offices, including the highest office in the province.
“We are deeply concerned with the level of ignorance by some of these structures who blatantly snubbed the memoranda of demands that were submitted to them. Even those who did respond exhibited apathy through a shallow administrative act of writing back without addressing the matters raised on 6 July 2023,” said Mashao.
Cosatu’s demands include the immediate recall of Ramathuba, the swift prosecution of corruption cases, the implementation of the National Gender-Based Violence Plan, the elimination of the gender pay gap in workplaces, and a lifting of the moratorium on retrenchments and job losses.
The demands further included a clear plan to end unemployment and retrenchments, stopping privatisation of state-owned entities, reducing interest rates, and an urgent solution to the water and energy crisis, amongst others.
Mashao said although these demands were made a few months back, there has been no move to address them.
“Three months later as we approach the International Day for Decent Work, we have not seen any measurable commitment to address these challenges faced by the working class in Limpopo.
“Compounding previous concerns, are new developments that have worsened the plight of workers and the working class in the province. It has also emerged that private companies doing work with the office of the premier and department of health do not comply with the statutory requirements on national minimum wage,” he said.
ANC provincial secretary Reuben Madadze said that Mathabatha had used this week’s ordinary PEC meeting to iron out all challenges within the party and among the alliance partners.
“The PEC received political input from the provincial chairperson, Comrade Chupu Stanley Mathabatha, who earnestly called upon both the members and leadership of the ANC to unite and reinvigorate the movement as we approach the 2024 general elections.
“The provincial chairperson identified various deficiencies within the party that, if left unattended, could potentially weaken the ANC’s stance in the forthcoming elections. These deficiencies include the public spats among ANC members, particularly on social media platforms,” said Madadze.
For the ANC to succeed, it must also resolve differences affecting the alliance with Cosatu and the SACP. For some time now, provincial Cosatu and SACP have strongly criticised Mathabatha’s leadership.
To mend their relationship, the ANC PEC decided to integrate Cosatu and the SACP into a subcommittee structure led by provincial ANC deputy chairperson Florence Radzilani in an effort to promote a new strategy.
However, it is common knowledge that Radzilani’s ties to the provincial ANC leadership have been weak at best.
Some of Radzilani’s detractors are within the leadership of Cosatu and the SACP, both of which have often decried being treated like “stepchildren.”
“The decision to also include alliance structures in the sub-committee headed by the deputy chairperson is informed by our dedication to fostering a more cohesive and collaborative alliance,” said Madadze.
Provincial health department spokesperson Neil Shikwambana, who said he has been authorised to speak on behalf of Ramathuba, said they noted Cosatu’s march to Mathabatha’s offices.
“The MEC serves at the behest of the premier, and as the department, we have no space there,” said Shikwambana.
ANC provincial spokesperson Jimmy Machaka said they have no problem with the Cosatu march.
“The ANC in Limpopo respects the right of workers and Cosatu to march. It is their constitutional right to express views and unhappiness on its behalf and on behalf of their constituency,” he said.
Machaka explained that the Radzilani-led subcommittee deals with the hiring and firing of ANC deployees in government.
SACP provincial secretary Cheune Malebana said she was unable to comment as she was not feeling well.