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Fascism coming to SA, says Amcu president

May 31 2016 19:18
Terry Bell

Cape Town - South Africa “is slowly going to be a fascist state,” according to Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) president Jospeh Matunjwa. He described this as “like apartheid, but without the racial laws”.

His comments follow revelations at the weekend that a senior Lonmin [JSE:LON] official who urged a harsh crackdown by police before the Marikana massacre in 2012 was a state security agent. “But two years ago I said a fascist state may be coming, unless we are careful,” he said.

Speaking only weeks before wage talks in the platinum sector are about to begin, he maintained that the government appears to be ready to crack down on any militant trade unions it cannot control. He pointed out that allegations made in a R120m civil lawsuit launched last week in the Pretoria high court seem to bear this out.

'Zuma instructed me to start new union'

A former Amcu member, Thebe Maswabi, who set up a short-lived Workers Association Union (WAU) in early 2014 in opposition to Amcu, maintained that he was instructed by President Jacob Zuma to do so. He claimed to have received large sums of money from state security agents to get the project under way. This support was withdrawn when he failed to attract a substantial following.

“But if you think this is about Zuma, you have lost the plot,” said Matunjwa. “Both the state and capital are after Amcu.”

Even the fact that WAU could be registered as a union “in a week” was an indication of the level of interference. In order to be registered, trade unions first have to prove they have an office and a bank account and must produce audited membership and financial reports, something that can take years.

While the reports of several Cosatu unions are sometimes years in arrears, the registrar of trade unions is always “running after us for audited reports”, said Matunjwa. However, Amcu’s membership and financial reports are in order.

The union’s negotiators are now waiting for mandates from Amcu branches in preparation for the coming wage talks. By the end of next week, the process should be completed and Amcu will be ready to table its demands.

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