ANC’s double standards clear when it comes to treatment of workers

Luthuli House , ANC offices in Johannesburg .
Luthuli House , ANC offices in Johannesburg .

If Zozibini Tunzi were ever to stand up before the world and say that the Miss Universe pageant is a symbol of heteronormative patriarchy; that women who participate in such pageants are engaging in performances for a male spectator audience that objectifies and sexualises them, she would quickly be dismissed by the world.

The same reaction would likely happen if Helen Zille were to advance the argument that Africans should seek reparations from their former European colonisers.

Everyone knows Zille does not think colonialism dispossessed black people of both their economy and humanness —  she believes it benefited us.

The power of a message is dependent on the credibility of the messenger. No matter how progressive a message may be, when it comes from someone who does not have the moral authority to communicate it, no-one will pay attention to it.

Such a person will be dismissed as either opportunistic or hypocritical — with good reason.

At every national conference it holds, the ANC produces a set of resolutions that it will advance as an organisation but also in government.

These resolutions inform the policy trajectory of the organisation as well as the programmes it will advance in a given term.

Socio-economic policy is at the heart of these resolutions, and the one thing they have in common is the theoretical centring of the poor.

An example of this can be gleaned on page 32 of the 54th National Conference resolutions, where, on the labour market and executive pay, the party states: “The livelihoods of the poor, their employment opportunities, prospects for employment; and their capacity to roll back poverty and destitution should be prioritised... We will strive to create employment that delivers fair incomes and social protection for workers and their families.”

So committed is the ANC to theorising worker exploitation that the likes of minister of labour and employment Thulas Nxesi, minister of higher education, science and innovation Dr Blade Nzimande, and many others, have stood on podiums condemning companies that exploit workers.

It is ironic then that the same organisation is today accused of the very same thing by its own workers.

For a long time, workers at the ANC’s head office, Luthuli House, have been speaking out about salary delays and non-payments.

At every turn, the ANC promises to resolve the matter.

But a week ago, ANC workers met with the party’s leadership to communicate their unhappiness with the delay in payment, and at times nonpayment, of their salaries.

In addition to this, they threatened the party’s top six officials, who include President Cyril Ramaphosa, with criminal action over the failure to pay their pension benefits to fund administrators despite making deductions from their salaries over two years.

The ANC has no respect for the rights of workers. How would ANC leaders ever stand before the notoriously exploitive private sector and demand worker protection and better remuneration, when it has hurled its own employees into debt and poverty?

If an employer chose to dismiss such demands from the ANC governments it would be understandable.

A party that cannot pay its own employees has no moral authority to speak on the issue of nonpayment of employees in other organisations. It is irrational.

Salaries are not the only issue on which the ANC has no moral authority.

With each corruption scandal, each breach of ethics, each incident of disregard for the poor, the ANC loses moral authority.

Its legitimacy is next.


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