Despite being South Africa’s largest trade union (technically not correct as it is a confederation of unions but you get my point) and being in the media an awful lot, COSATU still has less than 2 million members nationwide. It’s been estimated that they have between 1.4 and 1.7 million although COSATU has never given concrete membership numbers. To put that into perspective, if COSATU had to break from the ANC and get every single one of it’s members to vote for it (or whatever form it took as a politicial party) they would get about 35 seats compared to the DA who have 47.
However the biggest concern for COSATU leadership is the fact that their membership is growing older. The largest age group in COSATU is men aged between 35-46 which kind of indicates that since the ANC took over in 1994 (when this age group would’ve been 23-34 in their prime working years) COSATU’s membership has not exactly exploded. Should this trend continue COSATU are going to be a shadow of themselves in a 15-20 years.
- There are still calls by some in the SACP for them to contest elections on their own ticket. Every time this comes up Jeremy Cronin gets another gray hair.
- President Mbeki has stated that the Department of Home Affairs will try to make life easier for immigrants with scarce skills. No word yet on whether resident South Africans with scarce skills will be afforded the same courtesy.
- Had an accident at work? Thanks to the example set by our own Minister of Public Enterprises Alec Erwin you can just plant that ‘Sabotage!’ seed of doubt. Who needs personal responsibility?
The department… is busy at the moment to review its Employment Equity Plan and targets set in line with the Employment Equity Act.
No doubt the department is rushing to find some suitable white candidates.
The ANC has continued discussions on whether it should significantly curtail provincial government. Previously I had thought that entire provinces themselves would be scrapped but it seems that rather the actual provincial government will be turned into a provincial administration (making Western Cape Premier Ebrahim Rasool’s predictions come true). Provincial legislatures and MEC’s would disappear, although I’m not sure if the staff counts at provincial departments would be reduced when you consider the number of people they employ as well as their usage these days as ‘patronage’.Meanwhile in national government some MP’s are starting to wonder if perhaps this whole centralisation thing isn’t going a bit too far. With most legislature in parliament now being driven by the executive ANC MP’s are probably wandering the halls of parliament questioning what exactly it is they do. To quote the linked article:
Debate in the National Assembly really has started to look like the ritual observation of important days,” one senior ANC MP said. Instead of drawing confidence from their overwhelming majority, and putting difficult issues on the table, several ruling party MPs complain, their colleagues make worthy speeches on political anniversaries and leave the debating to the opposition.
This is probably another result of the ANC’s ‘speak no evil’ in public approach to party politics. There’s plenty of debate in closed door ANC meetings but little out in the open in parliament. Some ANC MP’s however would like to overcome their legislative impotence by trying to exert more control over departmental budgets, in order to have some kind of checks and balances control over the executive. MP’s actually could have done this already, unfortunately it seems most of them have been more than happy to be little more than highly paid rubber stamps for the past 12 years.
Speaking almost immediately after him you would have expected ANC spokesperson Smuts Ngonyama to downplay Boesaks comments and start talking about how the ANC aims to unite those who were downtrodden by the Apartheid state. Well you would be wrong. He replied:
We have deliberately allowed the ANC to bring back the language of racial categorisation. In the 1990s, all of a sudden we were told again, you are Africans, you are coloureds, you are Indians, you are white.
What is referred to as a strategic objective of our struggle, which is there in all documents of the ANC since days immemorial, is that we are fighting for the liberation of black people in general because black people in general have been oppressed in South Africa.
However, we move on to say that we are fighting for the liberation of the African in particular.
I’m suprised he didn’t get up on the podium and proclaim “Four legs good! Two legs better!!”.
And then at the same conference the ANC Western Cape deputy provincial secretary Max Ozinsky criticised Cape Town Mayor Helen Zille for “perpetuating the separate development sins of apartheid” by grouping some largely black populated areas on the Cape Flats under once subcouncil and largely coloured populated areas under another. Zille justified such a decision saying that the areas in each subcouncil had different problems that could be better addressed if they were under one administrative area.
Perhaps she had already taken the words of Smuts Ngonyama to heart.
The Eastern Cape is the spiritual home of the ANC. It’s where it was born, grew to prominence and also where a lot of it’s current leadership, including Thabo Mbeki (but not Jacob Zuma) can trace their roots. Which is why it might be a bit disconcerting for the ANC national leadership to learn that the ANC Eastern Cape provincial is about to adopt a position paper stating that party is being taken over by “rightwing forces hostile to transformation”.
This might be the result of Zuma’s supporters using the provinces as a means to put pressure on the national ANC leadership, although the Eastern Cape ANC is keeping a door open for a “compromise candidate”. This also comes as some in the tripartite alliance claim that the executive branch has too much power, although as SomeAmongus points out, this was power that was seemingly given up freely when it suited them. COSATU have also decided that they don’t like the proportional representation electoral system anymore and would prefere a constituency based approach to be integrated into the process. That’s probably one of the few times COSATU and Tonly Leon agree on something.
City Press is reporting that Cyril Ramaphosa, former ANC politician (he’s still an NEC member) and no arch-capitalist, has thrown his hat into the race for presidency of the ANC, and therefore the title of President of the Republic of South Africa. Supposedly he still has the backing of Nelson Mandela, who backed Ramaphosa to take over from him in 1999 but was deftly out maneuvered by Thabo Mbeki.
Now although Ramaphosa is not my first choice (T-Money for Prez!) I’m glad that someone, anyone, has decided to publicly state that they could be President besides Jacob Zuma (who doesn’t publicly say that, his supporters are his proxy voice). Zuma’s supporters have been using the period of time between his rape trial acquittal and the start of his corruption trial effectively and have been using provincial ANC/COSATU/SACP conferences to put pressure on provincial leadership to support Zuma largely unchallenged.
The ANC are holding an executive committee meeting today, with both Pres. Thabo Mbeki and ex-VP (but still ANC VP) Jacob Zuma attending. Among the points on the agenda are the drawing up of a document governing the ethics of business ventures involving ANC members, something which probably should have been in existence years ago.
Another interesting point is that the ANC is still discussing whether they should amalgamate certain provinces. If you thought changing the name of an airport was an administrative headache be prepared for the migraine of having entire provinces disappear. It’s clear from this talking point that the ANC is becoming more and more frustrated that service delivery is not taking place with the speed and efficiency the country requires.
The ANC, always a fan of centralisation, is beginning to look at provinces as even bigger roadblocks than before. Even ANC Western Cape Premier Ebrahim Rasool commented on the fact that national government would prefer if the provincial governments were little more than ‘provincial administrations’. And let’s not forge the fact that we do in fact have a second house of parliament, the National Council of Provinces, which has basically been sidelined and removed from the legislative process. The ANC has expressed the feelings before that they believe a national-local government linkup could be more efficient service delivery vechile. Whether that is true or not will be the result of a very costly experiment, should they decide to carry it out.
Although in defence of (some) provinces perhaps national government should get rid of some underperforming government departments (Home Affairs, we’re looking at you) before turning their attention to the the troubles they perceive in the provinces.
After some investigation the Cape Town city council has endorsed the plan to construct the planned World Cup stadium at Green Point. The price? Only somewhere between R3 billion and R4 billion. Which is a bit more than the initial R1.4 billion initially planned for. Added to this is the fact that the local government will only be able to supply about R400 million of that budget, relying national government and FIFA to supply the rest an arrangement that has yet to be decided on.
Now I’m all for the World Cup, I really am, but I can’t help but wonder if that money could be used elsewhere. For instance one of the reasons why a totally new stadium has to be built is because in order to host a semi-final FIFA requires a 68 000 seater stadium and the largest stadium currently in Cape Town, Newlands Rugby Stadium, only seats 55 000. The city council still Do hopes to convince FIFA to allow a semi-final to take place in a smaller stadium, and if accepted refurbishments to Newlands would only cost R1.8 billion. That, to me, is still the best option.
Also construction is supposed to start in January 2007. Are there even draft plans yet?
The Electronic Communications Act and the ICASA Amendment Act finally became operational today after years of delays that have significantly hobbled South Africa’s telecommunications sector and despite Minister of Communication Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri trying to keep all the regulatory power for her own use.
ICASA is expected to now be able to release their findings on the pricing of Telkom ADSL later this week. Only three years behind schedule.