2 May 2013
South Africa’s democracy would not be sustainable or successful if the plight of the working class, employed and unemployed, was not sufficiently attended to, President Jacob Zuma said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the main Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) Workers’ Day rally in Kimberly, Northern Cape, Zuma said that the African National Congress (ANC) had a strong bias towards the working class and poor.
“The ANC bias towards the working class does not mean we have abdicated our responsibility as a liberation movement to mobilize the broadest strata of society for fundamental transformation.
“It simply means we have correctly understood that our democracy will not be stable, sustainable and successful if the plight of the working class, employed or unemployed, is not sufficiently attended to,” Zuma said.
Workers’ rights such as the right to fair labour practices and the right to form and join trade unions were enshrined in the Constitution. “These are very important rights which must not be taken for granted.”
Zuma said a tendency to divide workers or undermine collective bargaining among others should be guarded against.
“Unity within Cosatu is paramount. We need a united Cosatu that is able to devote its attention to promoting the rights of workers. Thus we urge the labour movement to work seriously at uniting the federation and to resolve whatever differences there may exist.”
Workers were the creators of the country’s wealth and they had to get an equitable share in the wealth, Zuma said, adding that attention needed to be paid to the plight of mineworkers and farm workers.
“As we focus on miners and farm workers, we also remember those workers who tragically lost their lives in Marikana in the North West and related violent incidents. We have to draw lessons from Marikana.”
The National Development Plan (NDP) was the country’s socio-development blueprint for the next 20 years, Zuma said.
“We reiterate that those who have views about the NDP should feel free to raise them in the spirit of the democratic culture within the movement … Views cannot be suppressed. However, work is continuing to implement the NDP.”
At government level, the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation has already begun developing a draft medium-term strategic framework for 2014-2019, as the first five-year building block of the NDP.
The intention is to submit the first draft of the 2014-2019 NDP-aligned framework to the 2013 July Cabinet lekgotla. This can then be refined so that it can be submitted to the new Cabinet for approval as soon as possible after the 2014 elections.
This will enable departments to include the new targets in their individual five-year strategic plans, which they will be starting to work on later this year and in early 2014.