Back to the drawing board

By Sibangani Dude
November 2012
Editors Note
Recent months have been dominated by ugly scenes as workers resorted to wild cat strikes to press their employers to pay them what they really deserve.

The industrial action has had and will have adverse effects on the economy for a while. In South Africa lives were lost. Sadly no one is stepping forward and taking that very important role of “responsibility”. At the time of writing, the blame game continues while the economy is suffocating.

I am sure South African unionist Zwelinzima Vavi, the secretary general of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) is a shocked and bruised man. Efforts to address workers turned sour when workers at the Amplats Mine pelted him and his entourage with stones.

I am sure the magnitude of the deep-seated South African miners’ anger dawned on him for the first time, let alone the clear message that he was no longer welcome.

Given the resources Cosatu has, it should have done its homework properly instead of using an approach, which left its image deeply soiled and its bloated ego bruised.

On the home front, the Minister of Health, Richard Kamwi, underwent a barrage of criticism when disgruntled nurses took him on.

Give Kamwi some credita. He went there himself and tasted acid and now he speaks from experience. The ongoing acrimonious labour actions are a byproduct of out-sourcing the employer and employee relations to the union.

Undoubtedly, the union bosses have lost it to materialism. The workers’ interest - the very reason for their existence - has been relegated to the bottom of the shelf.

They say when two elephants fight, the grass suffers. It is evident that investor confidence is ebbing, the economy is battling, numerous opportunities are being lost and some will never to be recouped.

All this is as a result of issues which could otherwise have been resolved amicably. Whatever happened to proactive leadership?

I am sure a time has come for employers to awaken from their deep slumber and take full responsibility for their employees’ welfare. This issue of ticking the boxes will soon catch up with us too.

There is a yawning leadership gap in our communities. Most of the leaders are just wolves in sheep’s skin: unpredictable and dangerous.

Leaders should wake up to the fact that people know exactly what they want and cannot, therefore, be fooled anymore with cheap sloganeering.

The mistake those in power often make is assuming that poverty and illiteracy equal stupidity - how wrong they are!

People on the ground know what their problems are. They may struggle with the ‘how’ part but that is where the technocrats should come in. This is the birth of sustainability.

As the year comes to an end, we cannot ignore the weighty issue of education.

A progressive nation is punctuated by a sound education system and functional primary healthcare systems. That 50 000 grades 10 and 12 dropouts enter the job market every year to add to the already huge unemployment figures, demands urgent attention - the education conference was just the beginning.

The National Council of Higher Education does a great job and Mocks Shivute should be commended for his efforts. But all fingers point to the deep-seated iceberg that can be traced to the dysfunctional pre-primary and primary education.

We should go and camp in that area until we get value for money.

Let me sign off by paying tribute to Paralympics medalist Johanna Benson for quelling the hunger pangs of this success-starved nation by becoming an overnight sensation. Her life will never be the same again. She is a living testimony that if you work hard and remain focused, you will definitely reap the rewards.

Happy reading until next time! PF