Zuma Tries to Buy the Support of the Unemployed in the Eastern Cape

Tuesday, 06 November 2012
Unemployed People’s Movement Press Statement

Zuma Tries to Buy the Support of the Unemployed in the Eastern Cape

On Friday last week Jacob Zuma addressed the South African Unemployed Workers’ Union (SAUWU) in East London. Zuma announced that 600 members of SAUWU would benefit from a new Community Works Programme.

Jabu Ntusa, the leader of SAUWU, came to Grahamstown late last year to meet with the Unemployed People’s Movement. He told us that if we could organise rallies and other events where Zuma could have access to the unemployed there would be lots of spin-offs for us in terms of jobs and projects. He made it clear that he was not asking us to join the ANC but that he was, instead, asking us to support Zuma.

However he did say that the ANC had identified the unemployed as a threat to the party and that it wanted to create its own organisation of the unemployed. We know this strategy well. NAPWA was set up as a rival to TAC. SANCO and SDI are used as rivals to progressive shack dwellers’ movements. NUM is being used against the strike committees on the platinum mines. The government has long tried to channel the few scraps that come to the poor through organisations loyal to it to reward obedience at the same time as dissent is repressed. Often people have to be ANC members to get food parcels, grants, houses etc.

However in the past organisations were set up to be loyal to the ruling party. Setting up organisations to be loyal to one person in the ruling party is a new development. We see this as one more step in the slide to dictatorship that we are seeing under Zuma.

We refused Ntusa’s offer. Some of us have already been offered jobs, councillorships and contracts by the state and some of us have already been offered things by various NGOs too. We have refused these things because no social movement that does not carefully protect its autonomy will survive. Both co-option and repression have to be resisted.

Moreover the 600 ‘jobs’ that Zuma promised to give to SAUWU members are not real jobs. They are just crumbs that are being flung at the poor. Of course we understand that with more than 40% unemployment people will rush to accept these crumbs, and even fight each other for them, but there is no way that offering 600 people scraps of badly paid work with no security is a serious response to the structural unemployment crisis. In fact this is in insult.
We would also like to announce that we have served the papers for our civil case against the National Commissioner of Police for the assault on Ayanda Kota in the Grahamstown Police Station earlier this year.

Political repression in South Africa didn’t begin in Marikana. The Landless People’s Movement were subject to torture in 2004. The Anti-Eviction Campaign was subject to various forms of repression over many years as was Abahlali baseMjondolo. In 2009 both the Landless People’s Movement and Abahlali baseMjondolo were attacked by armed groups of ruling party supporters backed by the police. In 2011 there was large scale torture after protests in Ermelo and at least 11 people were shot dead by the police during protests. Our movement suffered serious repression in Durban earlier this year.

Now that the massacre, torture and police cover up in Marikana has exposed the politicisisation and criminalisation of the South African police to the world we hope that all democratic forces can build a united front against repression by both the police and party structures. For too long there was denialism about repression in South Africa.


Ayanda Kota, UPM Spokesperson: 078 625 6462
Asanda Ncwadi, UPM Chairperson: 071 010 5441