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Umsebenzi Online

Volume 9, No. 14, 22 July 2010

In this Issue:


Red Alert

The SAA lesson: Intensify working class struggles against corruption

Blade Nzimande, General Secretary

The findings of the KPMG report about possible large scale corruption and embezzlement of SAA monies, as well as the decision by the current SAA board to recoup these monies, is a decisive moment in working class struggles to fight corruption and defeat tenderpreneurship. The main lesson from this SAA saga is that the working class, and indeed the entire mass of our people, must not allow themselves to be intimidated in the struggle to expose corruption wherever it occurs.

The SACP does indeed welcome the findings of KPMG on allegations of corruption and possible self-enrichment at the SAA, as well as the decision of its board to further investigate this matter, including possible criminal actions against all those involved.

The SACP must salute the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) for having issued a 'red card' against corruption at the SAA. This goes to show the extent to which the workers and the poor in general, and the organized working class in particular, have the power to be at the head of the struggle against corruption. Therefore the SAA developments must act as a lesson for the rest of the organized working class; that it must intensify its struggle against corruption on all fronts and with even more vigour.

We are however heartened by the fact that a number of other progressive trade unions, both in the public and private sectors, are intensifying the struggle against corruption on all fronts.

The latest SAA developments also have other lessons for us. Those amongst our ranks who might have begun to doubt the efficacy and impact of our campaign against corruption must now learn a lesson that we must be decisive and also persevere in our struggles to defeat the scourge of corruption.

'Tenderpreneurs' of all sorts, including of late 'mediapreneurs', have left no stone unturned to try and tarnish the image of all those in the forefront of the campaign against corruption. Some of these elements have tried to intimidate us by trying to project our campaign as being a campaign against the ANC and our government. Nothing is further from the truth. This has just been one of many attempts to try and kill our campaign against corruption. Proof of this is that most, if not all, of those who have been trying to project this as a campaign against the ANC, have not lifted a finger or participated in the many activities and debates we have embarked upon to highlight the dangers of corruption in society. The most important lesson from this is that we should refuse to allow any of our organizations and components of our alliance to be used as refuge pillagers of state resources.

Our campaign against corruption, we must reiterate, is not a campaign against the ANC, nor is a campaign that implies that ANC and government leaders are corrupt. This is one of the scarecrows used by tenderpreneurs, especially those within our own ranks, to try and scuttle legitimate working class struggles to intensify the struggle against corruption.

Another critical lesson from this is that the SACP, and indeed the working class as a whole, must not succumb to, or be intimidated by, media attacks and other attempts to discredit us, individually or collectively, as a way of diverting us from this principled campaign against corruption.

If anything, the SAA victory points to the actual and potential successes and victories we can still score against tenderpreneurs and those who steal public monies and resources.

Whilst welcoming the stance taken by the SAA board to go into the bottom of these allegations in the light of the forensic report, we must however express our serious reservations about its reluctance to probe the reasons why the previous SAA board failed to detect and act on this problem. It is only proper that the previous board should equally be called to account as to how such things happened under its watch. Otherwise failure to do this can only give an impression that corruption is being selectively dealt with outside of a holistic approach to call everybody to account.

It is also important that we re-iterate our stance that our struggle against corruption is not merely a moralistic struggle, important as the moral dimensions of this struggle are. It is fundamentally a political struggle that locates corruption as one of the major stumbling blocs in the building of a developmental state. Corruption is tantamount to theft from the state and the people, thus seriously undermining the capacity of the state to use the resources in its hands to advance our developmental objectives.

Coming back to the SAA and other state owned enterprises, it is important to use these latest revelations about the SAA to begin to advance concrete perspectives about the role of the SoEs in the national democratic revolution. SoEs must not be treated as private corporations in the hands of the state. They should be seen as important components of a developmental state. Therefore corruption undermines the entire developmental outlook of SoEs.

The above also means that we need a complete review of the salaries, conditions of service and bonuses of SoE executives, their investment priorities and their relationship to the overall developmental policies of the state. Salaries and conditions of service of SoEs must not be benchmarked against those of the private sector, much as we should also intensify the struggle against the obscene salaries and bonuses of private sector executives.

As the SACP we should advance, within the context of the Industrial Policy Action Plan 2 and the proposed new growth path, a completely new role for the SoEs; that of taking forward our overall developmental objectives in the spheres in which they operate. SoEs should not be treated as private corporations in the public sector, but as critical capacity in our struggle to eradicate poverty through, amongst other, transformation the current growth path into a developmental one.

Exposure of actual and possible corruption in the public sector and in the state owned enterprises should also not be distorted to suggest that corruption is only to be found in the public sector. There is large-scale corruption the private sector as well. Therefore, the working class should intensify the struggle against corruption in the whole of society.

We are indeed emboldened by SATAWU's actions at the SAA!