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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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Congress  |  Resolutions

Final Resolution on the Alliance Programme

Adopted by COSATU Special Congress, 19 August 1999

    1. The Alliance emerged from the elections more united and committed to accelerating social transformation. The decisive election victory and the diminishing strength of the rightwing forces has opened the space to vigorously pursue our transformation agenda. The alliance needs a concrete programme to realise this broad objective of accelerating social transformation.

    2. The ANC manifesto provides the basis to elaborate a programme that should be implemented by government over the next five years. In many respects, the manifesto represents the traditional progressive tradition of the ANC and its alliance partners. It correctly, emphasise the need to accelerate social change to address the legacy of apartheid manifest in the massive inequalities between rich and poor, the high rate of unemployment and poverty`; and the massive service backlog. There are clear commitments in the manifesto to address to the `social deficit` and to launch our economy on a new growth path that is employment generating. The biggest challenge confronting the alliance is to translate the manifesto into a clear implementable programme and a strategy to drive such a programme.

    3. In elaborating the manifesto into an implementable programme, we must be guided by the RDP. We are not attempting to rewrite the RDP, but to locate it within the current period of governance. In developing the programme we need to identify areas where there is consensus within the Alliance and areas of disagreement. An integrated strategy to take forward areas of agreement and to address areas of disagreement should then unfold.

    4. The inaugural Central Committee adopted a wide range of resolutions, which must be fed into the alliance programme. Congress endorses the Central Committee Resolutions as COSATU`s socio-economic policy.

    5. The Alliance programme must comprise of two components, a five-year programme of governance and a programme to build our organisational structures. This should be geared towards ensuring that the alliance is in the driving seat of governance with a clear programme to advance our objectives. More importantly, we need to sustain the mass mobilisation unleashed by the election campaign. We therefore see the organisation question and the governance programme as inter-linked and mutually reinforcing.

    6. There is a need for political agreement and commitment in the alliance to elaborating the programme. The alliance summit should agree on a process, including timeframes to developing the programme. Further, we must agree on mechanisms to ensure that the programme is indeed translated into government programmes, which will then filter to other state organs. The alliance need to establish institutions and systems to ensure accountability by government, to monitor and evaluate the progress made in implementing the programme and to intervene whenever problems arise. An urgent Alliance meeting should be convene to discuss the alliance programme.

    1. Congress endorse the following as constituting the alliance programme:

      • Transformation of the State;

      • Building the Economy and Creating Jobs;

      • Labour Market Transformation;

      • Social Transformation; and

      • Building Organisation, particularly a strategy to co-ordinate the alliance structures and programme.

    2. The CC Resolution should provide a basis for negotiating an alliance five-year programme. The following must be read with the CC Resolution.

      1. Congress reaffirms the CC`s vision on the need for an active interventionist developmental state biased towards the working class. The state needs to play an active role in the economy and society.

      2. We reject the notion of a `minimalist` state whose essential role is to create a favourable environment for the private sector. We must engage the narrow approach to transforming the state into a `lean and mean` machine. This strategy equates transformation with downsizing the state through inter alia cutting back on public service personnel, privatising state owned enterprises and outsourcing so-called non-core activities.

      3. We need an approach to deal with the outcome of the audit process in the public service as well as the proposal for the Public Sector Job Summit. In this vein, the recommendations of the public sector workshop forms the basis of a strategy to respond to these questions. Our overall objective is to emerge with a National Framework Agreement II on Restructuring the Public Service as adopted by the Presidential Job Summit. The Framework Agreement should be underpinned by the following:

        • Developing an optimal size of the public service informed by our developmental objectives, rather than a narrow budget-driven process.

        • The need for a common approach on the role of the state in creating both direct and indirect jobs. Linked to this is the need for alternative to retrenchments. Redeployment and retraining based on the results of the audit process should be pursued. In addition, the creation of new employment especially in areas where there are shortages of personnel should be part of our overall strategy.

        • Where it is not feasible to redeploy staff within the public sector, a social plan must be put in place. The objective of the plan should be to redirect workers to other sector of the economy, through among others retraining and re-skilling.

        • Developing a common understanding to investment in the public sector to include both capital and human capital investment, rather than the narrow approach to juxtapose consumption and capital expenditure.

        • A strategy to transform public sector service delivery, prioritising the rolling of services to historically under-served communities consistent with the RDP.

        • A clear plan to deal with collective bargaining in the public service to deal with current weaknesses.

        • A common public approach to avoid sending conflicting signals which end up demoralising public servants.

        • The necessity of introducing legislation to give effect to the National Framework Agreement.

        • The Public Sector Job Summit should be convened as soon as possible.

      4. The NFA was an innovative attempt to deal with the restructuring of state owned enterprises. In its implementation there were a number of problems including a one-sided approach to restructuring, weak enforceability and poor co-ordination in our ranks. Government has indicated its willingness to re-negotiate the NFA and also unfolded a number of restructuring plans. We are committed to renegotiating the NFA guided by the broad vision contained in the CC Resolution. In taking forward this process, the following are important:

        • The recommendation of the EXCO Task Team on the NFA on Restructuring Public Enterprises. The NOBs must drive the process of ensuring discussion of the Task Team Recommendations.

        • The Alliance needs a common strategic approach on the objective of the restructuring of state owned assets. The alliance should develop a document which shall be translated into the mandates and business plans of state owned assets.

        • A common approach to the deregulation of sectors, including the sequencing of reforms.

        • Organisational coherence to ensure that comrades at enterprise level, union investment companies and so forth, operate within a clear policy. National supervision is pertinent in this respect.

        • Further, research in developing alternatives to government restructuring proposals so that we adopt a proactive rather than reactive approach

        • A clear sectoral approach, including in areas such as broadcasting to defend the public broadcaster.

      1. Congress reaffirms the economic policy resolutions adopted at the Central Committee. We need to take forward the discussions of macroeconomic policy within the alliance to develop a common approach on this question, including the development and implementation of a new strategy. This discussion should take place at the alliance summit.

      2. The summit should discuss among others, macroeconomic policy, the proposed gold sales by the IMF and several Central Banks, demutualisation and relocation of primary listing and inflation targeting, tariff policy and industrial policy.

      3. COSATU should lead discussions on the Sector Summits envisaged in the Job Summit. It must assist affiliates to come together and develop clear and realistic goals for these summits. In particular the federation must play a role in developing strategies in the "vulnerable sectors", where union organisation and capacity may not be adequate for such challenges. However, we need a strategic approach on the programme for sectoral summits including mechanisms to ensure that their resolutions are being adhered to.

      4. Economic empowerment needs further discussions and research. A set of criteria should be developed against which proposals can be judged.

      5. We must take forward the engagements on the budget and the MTEF, at the level of the alliance, in NEDLAC (Public Finance and Monetary Chamber) and in parliament. We welcome the ANC`s proposal for adopting a medium term strategy framework, which will then be the basis for a new MTEF. Discussions must begin on this as a matter of urgency, in preparation for the 2000-2001 budget.

      1. South Africa is still confronted with the reality of apartheid labour market. Government through its five-year programme has introduced pieces of legislation contributing towards the transformation of the labour market. The gains we have made over the last years are under constant attack by business and their ideologues.

      2. Congress in adopting the declaration on the labour market asserts that we must defend our gains and further pursue labour market transformation through inter alia addressing areas of weakness in the current legislative regime and introducing legislation to deal with areas where the labour market continues to be "too flexible`.

      1. This encompasses areas geared towards meeting basic needs such public transport education, health, housing and so forth. Congress reaffirms the CC resolution on the social wage and social security. We do not intend to repeat the resolutions but to respond to new challenges that have emerged in the following areas: public transport, social security and housing. The objective is to complement and consolidate the CC resolutions in this regard.

      1. We reaffirm our position on the need for public transport that is affordable, reliable, safe and environmentally friendly. As envisaged in the manifesto, the state must invest in the rehabilitation of and the building of the public transport system. We therefore do not support the state`s withdrawal from this areas including the phasing out of subsidies which are essential to ensure access to public transport. Public passenger transport is a basic human right. Every citizen must have transport access to work, commercial, educational and social activities.

      2. The manifesto`s commitment to building a public transport system lays the basis for developing our public transport system and it is important that policy is aligned to this vision.

      3. We also note a number of negative trends, which undermine the process to building an efficient and accessible public transport system. Among others these include the concessioning of the commuter rail system and the proposals by the Durban and Johannesburg local government which will result in cuts or corporatisation of municipal buses.

        • Linking extension of subsidy to secure and improve working conditions and guarantees of worker rights and jobs;

        • Retaining public ownership of transport where it already exists (e.g. municipal bus services and commuter rail, provincial parastatals) and to reverse privatisation of public transport;

        • Maintaining and extending infrastructure and services to rural areas.

        • To move towards a situation where there are interventionist government policies to promote use of public transport as opposed to private car transport;

        • To stop concessioning of commuter rail;

        • Substantially reduced rates for pensioners, disabled people, students, and unemployed people;

        • Ensuring that the state is a majority owner in all public transport, by extending public ownership;


        • To ensure that employers that use night transport increase transport contribute towards the state subsidy;

        • Engage with an respond to the Moving South Africa Transport Policy unveiled by government.

      4. To address some of these problems and move towards an efficient and accessible public transport system COSATU must adopt a high profile campaign. The campaign should address, amongst other issues:


      5. The campaign should be led by COSATU but driven by affiliates directly involved in public transport - TGWU, SATAWU, and SAMWU - but that all affiliates should be involved.

      6. COSATU local and regional structures should help to build community organisations in their areas. Where commuter organisations already exist, these should be brought into the campaign as allies;

      1. We reaffirm our position on the need for a comprehensive social security system in South Africa.

      2. Government recently announced its intention to implement the basic income grant. This was one of our demands and the job summit and we recognise the announcement by government as a significant development. COSATU must engage with the Department of Welfare to establish the nature of the proposal. On the basis of these discussion a decision must be taken on a common approach including the role of the Social Security Task Team established by the Job Summit.

      1. The Job Summit adopted a Presidential Lead Project to build 50 000-150 000 rental units, monitored through NEDLAC. It is important the Presidential Housing Project should not become a once-off event but should be catered for in housing policy. COSATU must ensure that new housing policy provides for different tenure options – rental stock, housing co-ops and individual home ownership, and this need to be reflected in a new Housing White Paper.

      2. To deal with the increasing prices of building materials, the government should do the following:

        • Resort to bulk purchasing;

        • Negotiate with the manufacturing sector.

        • Introduce price controls or zero-rate them.

        • Transfer of housing in the hands of the parastatals to a single housing parastatal. There is a need for negotiation with the unions to deal with the housing stock and land in the hands of the parastatals consistent with COSATU policy.

        • Indexing subsidies to inflation, particularly the increases in prices of land and building material.

        • Maintain institutions such as the NHRBC, which ensure that builders involved in the provision of low cost housing are registered.

        • Protocol for accessing houses should be developed to prevent favouritism.

      3. Unions should realise that they can contribute to solving the housing crisis. Through among others:

        • Negotiating stop order payment of rent;


        • Pension and provident funds to be accessed for consolidation.

        • Union investment companies to invest in housing. COSATU jointly with the Alliance to revive the Masakhane Campaign.

      4. Land available for housing can be treated in the following manner:

        • Land must be left in the hand of government and not sold to private developers;

        • and
        • Employer`s to contribute to the delivery of housing in a form of levy imposed by the government.

    3. Transformation of the State
    4. Building the Economy and Creating Jobs
    5. Labour Market Transformation
    6. Social Transformation
    7. Public Transport
    8. Social Security
    9. Housing
    1. The staged approach to a common Alliance programme will require that we simultaneously develop clear plans of action for mobilisation of our mass constituency. The Alliance Summit Report (1997) notes that such a plan of action, "should be capable of organising and mobilising our constituency in ways that converge with what we are seeking to achieve in government".

    2. As we have noted before, the 1999 election campaign has provided us with valuable lessons for mass-driven programmes of the Alliance. In particular, we have learnt a great deal about the need for strong co-ordination, consultation and communication within the Federation and between Alliance formations. Mass-driven programmes require co-ordination, consultation and communication at national, provincial and local levels. It also requires greater coherence and co-ordination to various departments and activities.

    3. We need a strong National Political Centre (NPC), to drive the Alliance programme of transformation. The Alliance Secretariat should provide back up and support to the Centre. Such a Centre, comprising the national leadership/office bearers of Alliance formations, should not only put into motion effective committees or task teams to deal with policy issues, but should co-ordinate mass driven campaigns around these issues to support or complement government efforts at transformation.

    4. Regular meetings (at least once a month alternating between the NPC and the Secretariat) must address issues, share and solve problems on an on going basis and receive reports on, monitor, assess and evaluate the Alliance and Government Programme.

    5. At least two Alliance Summits comprising the Executives must be convened to decide on the broad policy direction and campaign plans. In between these summits the Alliance Secretariat should convene a conference of our allies within the mass democratic movement to debate and discuss co-ordination of campaigns in the transformation programme.

    6. Regional/Provincial and Local Political Centres must also be established. The NPC must dedicate resources and time to support and give broad direction to the work of regional political centres.

    7. COSATU should initiate the establishment of sector committees. Each union to have a dedicated team to focus on restructuring issues. There should be co-ordination of the sector teams through a co-ordinating committee under the direction of the Secretariat.

    8. These sector committees should be responsible for policy making, training and capacity building and co-ordination within and between unions – especially where there are overlaps.

    9. Further, Alliance sector committees should be established with clear linkages to the inter-affiliate sector committees. This will help to strengthen the restructuring and transformation initiatives agreed to at Alliance level. Also important, this will help the Alliance to review the restructuring processes and make necessary proposals for intervention. In this way, the Alliance, especially the ANC will have a visible presence in the restructuring of the sectors.

    10. The last Alliance Summit proposed a practical programme of action around the kind of mass-driven activities the Alliance could begin to implement (see Programme on the Alliance, Unity in Action, October 1998, Alliance Summit Report).

    11. Achieving greater practical organisational co-operation and co-ordination at grassroots level

    12. COSATU Locals in conjunction with our Alliance partners must initiate discussions on organising for community safety and protection, including the safety of women and children, participation in school governance including protection of school property, of community resources (like taps and electricity supply, etc). This can be organised through active participation in CPF`s, neighbourhood watch schemes, and establishing places of refuge and safety for women, etc. If agreed, each ANC / SACP branch and COSATU local should have this item on the agenda in their fortnightly meetings, report-backs on participation, progress made etc. should be given. The next Congress should discuss the representation of locals at congress.

    13. Our local-based formations should ensure that we are assuming much fuller responsibility for school governance. Again each branch/local should be required to report-back on involvement, problems, solutions. This must include:

  2. Conceptualising the Alliance Programme
  3. Elements of an Alliance Programme
  4. A Strategy for Co-ordinating the Alliance Structures and Programme

participation in other local based development/governance formations- including Hospital Boards, and Local Development Forums, Water Committees, etc.

  • Every township has stokvel and other co-operative savings schemes. As the alliance we must transform through engagement and consultation with such initiatives to be more than burial societies, and to play a more active developmental role. The host of new possibilities opened up by government policies - housing subsidies, public works programmes, the promotion of SMMEs, new co-operative/developmental approaches to welfare prevision, land reform and restitution, etc. need to be used actively to build local level, participatory and co-operative approaches to development. Again our branches/locals must be empowered to play an active, organising and facilitating role in all of this.

  • The alliance must become more active in defending vulnerable sections of society, for instance labour tenants on farms, squatters and domestic workers. They now have greater legal occupancy rights, but these are being flouted in practice. Our grass roots organisations must be active in monitoring this and in defending people illegally evicted from farms.

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