UF Response to the Nhleko Report on Nkandla

1 June 2015

UNITED FRONT 

PRESS STATEMENT: RESPONSE TO THE NHLEKO REPORT ON NKANDLA

 

ULTIMATELY, #ZUMA WILL FALL!

DON’T MOURN! MOBILISE FOR PEOPLE’S POWER!

END THE LOOTING OF PUBLIC RESOURCES!

Nkandla! Nkandla! Nkandla! … We as the people will not stop saying Nkandla! We will not only talk, now we will also act to get back what has been stolen from us.

 

Thixo, thina siyazi ukuba wena awukho se-George Goch… Lizalis’ idinga lakho, Thixo nkosi yenyaniso!… Uze usivuselele.

 

Emerging from its 30-31 May 2015 meeting, the Interim National Working Committee (NWC) of the United Front (UF) adds its voice to the widespread public anger, shock and disappointment with the report and decision of the Minister of Safety and Security Nathi Nhleko that President Jacob Zuma will not reimburse any of the public money spent on his private home in Nkandla. The UF stands with all people of good conscience. We must all end this criminal conspiracy usurping the dreams and aspirations of the South Africa we want and deserve. It is this most serious attack on accountability, transparency and clean governance

We cannot merely moan and complain through press statements or social media, or merely laugh at the deliberately eccentric, yet callous President Zuma.

The UF calls on millions of our people to jam the Presidential Hotline, fax number, email address and post box with the message: “President Zuma – Pay Back the Money you owe us for your private home. Listen to us as the People!”. Wherever you are, please take the time to name and shame President Zuma using the contact details of his below:

1.    Presidential Hotline number (toll free) – 17737;

2.    Fax number to President Zuma’s office – 012 323 8246 and 086 681 0987;

3.    Email addresses for President Zuma’s office – president@presidency.gov.zapresidentrsa@presidency.gov.za; and

4.    Postal address – Union Buildings, Private Bag X1000, Pretoria, 0001

The UF endorses the call by former COSATU General Secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, for a national march to the Union Buildings to demand that President Zuma pays back our money, and to defend the autonomy and integrity of the Public Protector and our hard-won Constitution. We shall join Comrade Vavi in the mobilisation of a coalition of people’s organisations to mobilise for this march. The UF further calls for such a coalition of people’s organisations to consider these additional actions:

1.    A mass protest in front of parliament on the day that Minister Nhleko will present this report to the relevant committee of parliament and on the next day President Zuma addresses parliament;

2.    A legal challenge to overturn Nhleko’s decision and report; and

3.    The legal enforcement of the report of the Public Protector on the Nkandla matter.

 

In the comings weeks, the UF will consult a wide range of organisations to pursue the above actions and other proposals.

Further, at midday on 26 June 2015, the 1 000 delegates who will attend the UF Launch Conference in Garankuwa will also observe a moment of silence to protest Nhleko’s decision. This protest will reclaim the injunctions of the Freedom Charter that “no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people”, and “All Shall be Equal Before the Law!”.  The UF calls on all South Africans to join these conference delegates by also observing a moment of silence and candlelight protest at 12h00 on 26 June 2015 at workplaces and communities. This will be the most appropriate way to mark the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter, and to reclaim it from the horrible legacy that Zuma represents. The UF will also use its Launch Rally on 28 June 2015 as a public protest action in support of the above demands. The UF calls on civil society and the general public to join this rally in the Tembisa township in Ekurhuleni.

We undertake these actions because Nhleko’s decision is a naked and unashamed defence of the indefensible. We echo Archbishop Desmond Tutu when he says, “it is unconscionable to spend hundreds of millions of rands on the President’s spurious ‘security’ needs’”. As the report of the Public Protector (Advocate Thuli Madonsela) on the same matter showed, the construction of a swimming pool, kraal and chicken coop at President Zuma’s home and other expenditure was illegitimate, excessive unlawful and wasteful expenditure that were for President Zuma’s private benefit for which he should reimburse the fiscus.

 

Nhleko’s report has engineered a profound ethical and constitutional crisis that cannot be ignored. President Zuma’s government wantonly disregards the constitutional obligation and duty for accountable, transparent, good and clean governance. Nhleko abused his executive powers to manipulate justice: this is executive lawlessness. Nhleko’s report undermines our collective intelligence and it does not respect us. This government does not care for public opinion and public interest.

 

Nkandla represents nothing else but the most greedy looting of public resources at the service of a greedy elite that President Zuma represents. This elite feeds off their control of what should be our public institutions and resources controlled, by and accountable to us as the people. The 25% increase in electricity prices Eskom is asking for, the hated e-tolls, golden handshakes for failed senior managers that drain the public purse, the illicit use of public money to pay for the hosting of the 2010 World Cup, the failure to deliver medicine to hospitals, the failure to supply decent sanitation in schools, the failure to solve the housing crisis – all of these, and many more are part of the enrichment of this elite. Like any criminal elite, they distribute mere crumbs to the poor in the form of social grants.

If President Zuma cared about this country, its Constitution and its people, he would voluntarily meet the call by the December 2013 Numsa Special National Congress to resign. This call is now more legitimate and relevant than ever. Zuma is not the President we deserve. Indeed, #Zuma will ultimately fall. But this is not possible without sustained mass mobilisation for clean and accountable governance, and socio-economic transformation.

Ultimately, #Zuma Must Fall!

Don’t Mourn! Mobilise for People’s Power!

FOR COMMENTS, CONTACT:

1.    Mazibuko K. Jara: UF National Secretary – 083 987 9633

2.    John Appolis: UF Campaigns Coordinator – 073 408 2674

Other Media:

Spam the Presidency over Nkandla: UF

Spam the Presidency over Nkandla, says United Front

The ANC’s Nkandla bloodsport: Extreme foot-shooting and self-sabotage

Op-Ed: The fog of Nkandla lies and SA’s national psyche

Encircled ANC must look within

Take back parliament for the people, declares R2K

Members and supporters of the Right2Know campaign rallied in the Cape Town CBD yesterday and vowed to take back Parliament for the South African public. This was in response to events at the State of the Nation Address (SONA) which had a “profoundly negative impact on our democracy” according to the organisation.

“Biko sacrificed his life for the nation… Robert Sobukwe sacrificed his life for the nation … Jacob Zuma sacrificed the nation for his life!”

This comment by Khayelitsha resident and Right2Know supporter Sibusiso Xabangela was met by an outburst of agreement from around 400 people packed into the Methodist Church on Greenmarket Square, Thursday evening. It was a moment which seemed to capture the collective disillusionment which the speakers and their audience had shared over the course of an hour and a half of discussion.

The event condemned the ANC’s and the state’s actions in parliament last week during the State of the Nation Address (SONA). The jamming of cellphone signals in the chamber prior to Zuma’s address and the violent removal of Economic Freedom Fighters’ MPs by police officers was the main focus. The ANC were bemoaned for rolling back on Constitutional freedoms and democratic principles in a number of ways.

Playwright and activist Mike van Graan took the government’s and the ANC’s intimidation of artists like Brett Murray, creator of The Spear, as a tactic which fosters self-censorship in the arts.

“The freedom fought for and enshrined in our Constitution is contradicted by the very people who remind us that it was they who fought for our freedom. They practice a [Mugabe-ist doctrine] in reminding us that they can also take [our freedom] away,” he said.

The people of South Africa don’t want police in Parliament, declared Phumeza Mlungwana, Social Justice Coalition general secretary. “We want them in the streets of Khayelitsha and Manenberg to ensure that we are safe!”

With reference to a recent advertisement by KwaZulu Natal Department of Human Settlements seeking a private contractor to monitor and prevent “land invasions”, the United Front’s Mazibuko Jara compared the ANC-run state to the apartheid state.

“It is the department’s duty to provide housing, not to monitor the poor’s struggle for land. But, the needs of poor people for land has been turned into a question of security, much like the struggle for freedom was turned into a security issue by the apartheid state.”

Jane Duncan, academic and author of the recent book The Rise of the Securocrats, sketched how the work of an increasingly centralised, secretive and powerful security cluster was being geared away from protecting citizens, towards “protecting the president from the people”.

“The State Security Agency has developed warped priorities. What does it do about the assassinations of political activists in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu Natal? Yet, it has time enough to install cell phone jammers in Parliament,” she said, before turning her scrutiny on herself and the South African public at large.

“[The turning of the security cluster against the people] has happened because we have allowed it to happen.”

The overwhelming theme on Thursday night was not the public’s failure to hold an elite to account, but the will to “take parliament back” as a space created by the struggle for freedom of ordinary citizens against apartheid — a “people’s parliament”.

Missing in person, but not in spirit, was the late South African author, R2K supporter and “advocate of truth and transparency” André Brink. Shireen Mukadam paid tribute to him by quoting a passage from one of his seminal works, A Dry White Season. It reminded the gathered activists of one of Brink’s enduring lessons to South Africans, that there are two dangers in life, the assumption that we can do everything and, the assumption that we can do nothing.

 

Juliet Plaatjies, a Social Justice Coalition member from Khayelitsha, joins in singing struggle songs at the Right2Know campaign’s mass meeting in the CBD. Picture by Daneel Knoetze.

Zuma doesn’t care about the poor

BusinessDay

BY CYNTHIA MACHABA, FEBRUARY 19 2015, 14:24

IT IS scandalous that President Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation address made hardly any reference to the labour market.

After exaggerating the number of jobs created last year, Zuma merely said that this year would see improvements in labour legislation to further promote workers’ rights and that the Department of Labour would review the sectoral determinations for agriculture, forestry, private security, and the wholesale and retail sectors. He said he expected the finalisation of the Employment Services Act, which formally establishes a public employment service and formally regulates the practices of private employment agencies and temporary employment services.

Apart from references to tweaking this or that law, Zuma said nothing about the inequalities in SA’s labour market. Of huge concern is that there was only passing mention of the national minimum wage, hidden in a reference to the mining sector. Zuma’s reference to reviewing sectoral determinations suggests that he thinks they, rather than a national minimum wage, will continue to be government policy on wages. This is despite the promise in the African National Congress’s election manifesto to explore the modalities of the introduction of a national minimum wage and the commitment the government made at the Labour Indaba last year.

Clearly, the government is burying its head in the sand. At present, nearly all the vulnerable workers covered by sectoral determinations earn below the median wage of R3,000 a month.

Zuma also did not mention that, at present, only 10.2-million workers are employed in the formal sector. Of these, only 2.4-million are covered by bargaining council agreements and 900,000 are covered by plant-level agreements only.

The wages of 3.5-million workers are regulated by sectoral determinations, and those of 3.4-million workers are not regulated at all.

Zuma also made no mention of the report by Statistics SA (Stats SA) a few days before his address, which exposed the shocking extent and persistence of extreme poverty, which greatly strengthened the argument for a national minimum wage.

Stats SA’s third “upper-bound poverty level” (UBPL) measures the income people need for essential items after meeting their basic food needs. It has “rebased” its figure for 2011 from R620 to R779 a person a month and to about R946 for last year, which is still a minimal amount. Based on this recalculation, the number of people living below this level increased from 45.5% to 53.8% — more than half of the population.

The new information from Stats SA on the UPBL has critical implications for the debate on a national minimum wage. Low-income workers do not just support themselves but, on average, have four dependants and in many cases even more. For a family of five, last year’s R946 would require the breadwinner, merely to save his or her family from poverty, to earn a minimum of R4,730 a month next year, or R4,966 if one adds an inflation adjustment of 5%. Yet most of the minimum wages in sectoral determinations are way below this broad minimum living level. Even some bargaining council agreements are below the broad minimum living level.

Recent strikes are an indication of how unsustainable it is that so many workers, even those covered by sectoral determinations — which are supposed to protect the most vulnerable workers — are living below this poverty line.

Yet nowhere in Zuma’s speech was the plight of the “working poor” or the unemployed dealt with. The government is still resisting demands for the outlawing of labour brokers. Despite the limitations placed on them in the amended Labour Relations Act, labour broking remains exploitative and perpetuates cheap labour. Zuma’s speech to the joint sitting of Parliament reflects how uncaring the government is about the plight of poor people.

• Machaba is a member of the United Front national working committee and a National Union of Metalworkers of SA shop steward.

 

Picture: GCIS – President Jacob Zuma listens to the state of the nation debate in Parliament this week. Opposition parties await his response on Thursday.

United Front postpones launch

IOL

January 29 2015 at 12:46pm
By Amy Musgrave

Johannesburg – The newly-formed United Front’s (UF) launch has been postponed till June, its national working committee said on Thursday.

UF co-convenor Kwezilomoso Mbandazayo told reporters that they needed more time attract members and ensure that the launch was not driven from the top down.

To do so the UF would hold a number of campaigns over the next few months, including its own State of the Nation Address the day before President Jacob Zuma delivers his speech next month.

“Our demands on the budget are informed by the fact that the ANC government sticks to a set of policies that are failing to address the systematic and structural foundations and drivers of dire social and economic conditions that face the overwhelming majority of our people.

“The South African government puts profits first before people and the environment,” she said.

The front would also hold a national conference to address the country’s education crisis as well as a meeting by civil society to hammer out what solutions there are to the electricity crisis.

The launch will take place in Gauteng.

Group Labour Editor

Numsa derides ‘state of the nonsense’

BusinessDay

BY PAUL VECCHIATTO, 12 FEBRUARY 2015, 07:23

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation address should be called the “state of the nonsense address” as his government has left a trail of hunger, poverty and misery for the overwhelming majority, say emerging left wing movement the United Front and its ally the National Union of Metal Workers of SA (Numsa).

On Wednesday United Front interim national secretary Mazibuko Jara delivered an alternative state of the nation address at a media briefing in Cape Town.

“The United Front has decided to put forward this alternative state of the nation address a day before President Jacob Zuma presents his misdiagnosis and tokenistic solutions. The official state of the nation address and the opening of Parliament have become a naked display of power and unashamed greed for the elite,” Mr Jara said.

Numsa deputy secretary-general Karl Cloete remarked on the sidelines: “Let’s see what will happen with the state of the nonsense.”

Mr Zuma will deliver his address at 7pm on Thursday with all the pomp and ceremony Parliament can muster. He is expected to talk about his government’s successes, plans to deal with the electricity crisis and the nuclear build programme, and to hint at what may be in Finance Minster Nhlanhla Nene’s budget, which will be delivered on February 25.

Hanging over the proceedings is a threat by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) that Mr Zuma will not be allowed to proceed with his address until he answers questions about when he will pay back the money spent on the R246m security upgrades to his Nkandla residence.

Security has been tightened around the Parliamentary precinct, with the South African Police Service’s Public Order Policing unit members receiving a briefing on Tuesday on what to do should the address be disrupted.

EFF MP and spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said the party would raise a point of order with National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete, which she must allow in terms of the rules. If Ms Mbete refused, then the party would raise another point of order about that.

“We do see the deployment of the riot police near the (National) Assembly as an intimidatory (sic) tactic. But we will not be intimidated and will press ahead with our plans,” Mr Ndlozi said.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) marched on Parliament on Wednesday as part of the “power to the people” campaign party Parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane has been leading for the last week.

DA leader Helen Zille accused the African National Congress (ANC) government of taking control of important institutions. “The ANC faction led by Jacob Zuma will defeat justice by capturing every single institution with the power to expose and prosecute corruption, before these very institutions take them down in a court of law,” she said.

The National Education Health and Allied Workers Union has decided to withdrew its members who are Parliamentary employees from participating in the events around the state of the nation address.

Talks between the union and Parliament’s management on Wednesday failed to agree on improved conditions of service demands.