United Front plans series of campaigns

Business Day

BY KARL GERNETZKY, 30 JANUARY 2015, 05:53

Picture: THINKSTOCK

THE build-up to the second launch attempt by the United Front, a political alliance spear-headed by the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), will be characterised by a series of campaigns that will include attempts to “demystify” the government’s budget allocations.

The United Front will call for a “national day of action” during Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene’s national budget announcement on February 25. It is also due to hold protests during provincial budgets and provide an alternative state of the nation address the day before President Jacob Zuma’s “misdiagnosis” next month, United Front national working committee co-convener Kwezilomso Mbandazayo said at a media briefing on Thursday.

The alliance held its first assembly last month, bringing together about 71 disparate organisations including trade unions, rights groups and faith-based organisations which resolved upon broad principles and elected a temporary steering committee.

Despite delays to a formal launch and debate over issues including a political future and a financial framework, the United Front intends to hold a “launch conference” at the end of June. It was targeting a membership of 500 organisations, secretary Mazibuko Jara said on Thursday.

Ms Mbandazayo said that, in the interim, it “will be harnessing existing mass struggles and emerging campaigns … to reach out to all sectors of workers, the unemployed and other progressive social forces in order for them to join the United Front”.

Campaigns also include action against xenophobia and a mass day of action against police brutality and inherent violence in the criminal justice system in March, when the Farlam commission of inquiry is expected to present a report to the Presidency on the violence at Marikana in 2012.

The United Front was pushing to ensure that the state budgeting process was “democratised”. It aimed to increase mainstream understanding of issues such as state subsidies to the private sector, said co-ordinator Dinga Sikwebu. It would also attempt to increase understanding of sub-national budget issues. “There is a tendency to focus on the national budget, but cities like Johannesburg have enormous budgets.”

The United Front has not finalised its funding mechanism, but had agreed that there should not be external funding as “we have seen how noble causes have been defeated”.

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