By Staff Reporter
The South African Federation of Trade Unions says it is not joining in the euphoria over Cyril Ramaphosa’s completion of 100 days as President of South Africa because this ‘Ramaphoria’ is misplaced.
The federation stated in a press release on Friday that while they welcomed the resignation of former president Jacob Zuma, they had immediately warned that the new president would not usher in a ‘new dawn’ for the working class and the poor majority of South Africans.
“Zuma may have gone,” said SAFTU, “but the African National Congress remains in power, and they cannot now pretend that he was the only problem. ANC ministers, MPs, NEC members and Cyril Ramaphosa all share responsibility for the country’s disaster. Only a handful of them raised any red flags during the nine years in which Zuma was committing all the crimes he is now being charged with.”
On the economic front, SAFTU said it had been proven right.
“The economic problems, which worsened over Zuma’s years in office, have become even worse. Jobs are disappearing daily. Unemployment is at 27.7%, the 6th highest level in the world. By the more realistic expanded level, which includes those, no longer looking for work it is 36.7%,” the statement reads. “The proposed outsourcing of electricity generation to independent power producers (IPPs) amounts handing over public assets to white multinational companies, threatening thousands more jobs in Eskom.
Just this week AngloGold Ashanti said it intended to cut 2,000 jobs to shrink its support structure after selling and closing mines in SA.”
A World Bank report says 54% of the South African population survives on R17 a day and 52% of young people are jobless.
“The top 10% of the population earn about 60% of all income and own 95% of all assets. Inequality as measured by the Gini coefficient, which shows the measure of income inequality, ranging from zero for a perfectly equal society to one for a perfectly unequal society, puts SA on 0.63 – the world’s highest,” SAFTU outlined. “Yet Ramaphosa has done nothing to tackle this economic and social catastrophe. He has done nothing even to take forward the ANC’s own commitment to pursue radical economic transformation, revive manufacturing industry, beneficiate our mineral wealth and create jobs downstream.”
The federation noted that instead President Ramaphosa’s priority has been to reassure the credit ratings agencies and their big business clients around the world that South Africa was a good place to invest and make money.
“His first budget raised VAT by 7% and imposed further cuts in real spending on essential services like education and heath while cutting taxes for the wealthy,” they stated further. “He has done nothing to tackle his friends in business who, according to the data released by Global Financial Integrity, between 2002 and 2011, illicitly moved out of the country $1,007 billion dollars, i.e. more than a trillion rand. In 2012 alone, the year of the Marikana massacre, SA lost R300 billion in illicit financial flows.”
The Davies Tax Committee estimated that aggressive tax planning and profit shifting costs the country a further R50 billion a year.
“Ramaphosa will never ever tackle this because as a Director of Lonmin, the butchers of workers of Marikana, he is a beneficiary of this massive theft from the people of our country, which dwarfs all the stealing during the Guptas and Zuma scandals,” SAFTU charged. “He has done nothing to end the racist two-tier delivery of services, which delivers top-quality service to the rich, while condemning the poor to squalor. His main ‘solution’ is for a ‘social compact’ between government, business and labour, which has already led to an agreement to a poverty minimum wage of R20 an hour.”
President Ramaphosa, SAFTU alleged, has pioneered new laws to take away workers’ right to strike which are due to be passed by Parliament on 30 May.
“His job has been made easier by the scandalous role of his friends in the leadership of sweetheart union federations who signed the agreement at Nedlac, which made it easier for the ANC government to push the bills through and claim they have the full support of ‘Labour’,” the statement continued. “What the President is doing to workers of this country is the same as that undertaken by Margaret Thatcher in Britain. He will go down in the history as someone who was once a hero of the working class but who once he crossed the class floor launched the most savage attack on workers. After all, Margaret Thatcher was also a worker in the beginning. Not even F.W. de Klerk the last apartheid ruler would have attempted to emasculate the working class at the time it need every instrument to fight low wages, worsening unemployment, poverty and inequalities.”
The federation said there will be no fundamental change under a leader who is committed to the capitalist class.
“He will never accept that the system which has made him so spectacularly rich, is the root cause of South Africa’s slide into the catastrophe of unemployment, poverty, inequality and corruption,” they stated in part. “He will never accept that this system is inherently corrupt and exploitative, based on the theft of the surplus value created by the workers’ labour and the pursuit of quick and big profits and a system with no concern for the workers, consumers, communities and society as a whole.”
SAFTU pledged to continue challenging the neoliberal economic policies and austerity programmes that have been intensified by President Ramaphosa.
“SAFTU is not mourning but mobilising. We call on workers to be in Parliament on 30 May when they pass the Bills that will take the right to strike away whilst entrenching poverty wages and inequality,” the federation urged.