South Africa 

Statement by the Alliance Secretariat

Today, Tuesday the 17th of November 2020, the Alliance Secretariat comprising representatives from the Secretariat of the ANC, the SACP and Cosatu met to reflect on matters of national importance.

SOUTH AFRICAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION

Among others, the meeting discussed the SABC situation which involves an intransigent agenda to retrench hundreds of workers and transfer a part of the public broadcaster elsewhere under the pretext of section 197 of the Labour Relations Act.

The SABC is a public entity. The intended transfer of a part of the public broadcaster, communicated by the SABC to the unions and workers in a letter dated 11 November 2020, amounts to both outsourcing and privatisation, to the extent that those who control the SABC intend to convey a part of the public broadcaster or its operations to a private profit company.

The Alliance Secretariat expressed solidarity with the workers and vehement opposition to any weakening of the SABC and its public broadcasting mandate and its subordination to commercial interests. The meeting reaffirmed the Alliance’s shared stance to protect public broadcasting against exploitation by commercial interests. The wrong things that those who were in charge at the SABC did in the past remain wrong, regardless of new approaches to sanitize the endgame using pieces of legislation.

State capture by private corporations globally does not take one form only, the widely and correctly condemned brazen smash and grab agenda. Privatisation, as well as outsourcing, has historically been used as an entry point to convey public assets and resources, and the functions of public administration and entities to private corporations to enrich the beneficiaries.

The capture of the policy space or regulatory capture by such private interests is very much part and parcel of state capture activities. That does extend into the sphere of policy implementation and manifests itself in the use of legislation to achieve the same ends. It is therefore important to be vigilant at all times and foster public scrutiny to strengthen and deepen democracy regardless of who is in charge, including at public institutions such as the SABC.

The Alliance Secretariat denounced the intransigence displayed by those driving retrenchments and neoliberal restructuring at the SABC.

It is our understating that the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams and Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications, do not support the retrenchments. Globally, technological change is deepening and widening with implications that require innovative governance, management, and diversification, including through the expansion of public broadcasting into new spheres of digital media, communication, and broadly the cyber space.

The Alliance Secretariat called upon members of all Alliance formations to actively support the Communications Workers Union as well as trade union unity at the SABC and Cosatu in the fight against retrenchments and in defence public broadcasting.

The meeting agreed on a set of immediate steps to be taken to further engagements on the SABC and other retrenchments in the public sector and the economy at large.

PROCUREMENT OF MEDICINE AND HEALTHCARE EQUIPMENT BY THE MILITARY

The Alliance Secretariat noted the rise of attacks co-ordinated against civil and military use in South Africa of medicine from innovation, research and development advances made in Cuba.

The sectarian attacks were launched against the Cuban medical brigade that came to South Africa at the request of our government to fight against the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19). Rather than being about procurement processes, the attacks are underpinned by, and reflect, a common ideological and commercial bias in favour of Western imperialist “solutions”. This agenda became apparent recently when similar attacks were launched against Russia for announcing that it had developed a vaccine for COVID-19.

The Alliance Secretariat reaffirmed the Alliance’s shared stance against imperialism and expressed support for the legal independence of our military, including in terms of procurement, which should be anchored in processes that comply with the applicable regulatory universe.

The Alliance Secretariat called upon the international community as represented by recognised multilateral institutions such as the World Health Organisation to ensure that COVID-19 vaccine innovation, research and development produce solutions that cover all countries. This is in the interest of humanity.

Vaccine development to end the COVID-19 pandemic, other medicine and healthcare equipment innovation, research and development should not be subordinated to private wealth accumulation agendas globally and within boarders.

The Global South in particular has been exploited under colonialism and continues to be exploited under imperialist domination and machinations. This scenario must come to an end. Intensifying the struggle against imperialism and its neoliberal articulation is the way forward that the working class and progressive forces globally and within nation states should unite and rally behind, towards redress, an end to uneven development, and world peace.

PUBLIC SECTOR WAGE BILL

The Alliance Secretariat discussed the dispute affecting agreed upon wage adjustments for public service workers and its implications for the orderly collective bargaining that the Labour Relations Act was among others adopted to promote, based on the Constitution.

Concerned about the need and urgency for an amicable resolution of the dispute, the Alliance Secretariat resolved to elevate the matter to the next session of the Alliance Political Council for further evaluation and reflection on the way forward.

Source: South African Communist Party – Statement by the Alliance Secretariat

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