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  • Zimbabwe:Congress of Trade Unions Statement on current situation

    By Tony | November 21, 2017

    Zimbabwe: the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions issued a statement on 18 November in response to recent developments in the country. They call for an inclusive transitional authority with a defined time frame, a restoration of basic socio- economic rights including education and health for all, reliable and affordable transport, decent housing jobs  and the restoration of lost freedoms.  The full statement is below.


    We, the General Council of the ZCTU, meeting in Harare on the 18th of November 2017 to review the political developments in Zimbabwe hereby state our position:


    We firstly wish to acknowledges the definitive push by the heroes of our time, the war veterans and the Zimbabwe Defence Forces led by General Constantino Guvheya  Chiwenga. On behalf of the workers of Zimbabwe we wish to express our gratitude for the bravery and decisive move they took to liberate citizens from captivity and despicable oppression. In this regard we warn anyone who believe that they can forcefully reverse this by threatening our defence forces that, apart from its unparalleled strength in Africa, we all stand in solidarity with the ZDF to defend our nation from any intrusion. We however welcome regional and international assistance based on this demonstrated irreversible desire of Zimbabweans for change.

    As workers of Zimbabwe under the ZCTU, we buttress the voices of the pioneer trade unionists who fought for the prosperity of workers and all citizens which could only be achieved through the liberation of our country from oppressive, discriminatory and repressive regimes. It is the voices of Benjamin Burombo, Charles Kadhali and others, the early trade unionists, and our heroes. These leaders fought day and night for social, economic and political rights of the workers and citizens under difficult oppressive Rhodesian employers and government.

    The ZCTU appreciates the role and heroic sacrifices of these men and women who led to the formation of liberation war movements fronted by trade union veterans Joshua Nkomo, James Chikerema, and others  who yearned and fought for a free Zimbabwe where everyone was meant to be equal, prosperous and free to choose and express their political choices. Their vision and desires continue to guide and direct us as workers of Zimbabwe.

    Political developments in the past few days marks the beginning of the much desired second liberation from tyrannical and inconsiderate rule by the post independent leaders who presided over untold suffering of workers and citizens. The ZCTU through the able leadership of Gibson Sibanda, Morgan Tsvangirai and others saw the early signs of a dictatorship and fought against a one party state that would have introduced a monarchy in the early years of independence. They fought against Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP), corruption, greed and gave early warning signs that the freedom train had derailed and needed to be redirected. Unfortunately, no one took heed of the ZCTU which was declared an enemy of the state. The struggle for workers’ freedom continued through the leadership of Lovemore Matombo, Wellington Chibebe and other comrades. The message from workers was clear,  that the state has been captured by individuals and corporate corrupt interests. They pointed out that the Presidency had become a danger to the achievement of the liberation struggle aspirations.

    Today the results are clear. One of the richest endowed nation in the world has the highest unemployment, poverty and obscene inequality. Those who work day and night wallow in poverty while those who do nothing live in unbridled opulence. Without shame they looted the resources of the nation and parade their ill-gotten wealthy in a country where the majority are failing to buy a pain killer and living on a single meal a day. Workers are working without pay and all the protective labour laws are gone.

    We therefore entertain a ray of hope today when we see Zimbabweans putting aside their petty differences and focusing on rebuilding the ruins left after many years of destruction. We are taking this process seriously and workers of Zimbabwe (including those from Informal Economy) are not going to allow to be under the yoke of bondage again.

    Therefore the ZCTU demands:

    1.         Inclusive Transitional Authority with a defined timeframe

    2.         Time for truth and justice

    3.         Reform of State Institutions

    4.         A new sense of belonging to all citizens based on the principle of


    5.         An end to neoliberal narrative based on oppression of workers

    through dangerous and imposed concepts such as Labour market flexibility, austerity and ill-informed Economic Structural Adjustment programs and the enrichment of a few individuals and corporates at the expense of the toiling masses.

    6.         A quick restoration of our basic socioeconomic rights among them:

    .           Education and Heath for all

    .           Reliable and affordable public transport.

    .           Decent housing for all

    .           Decent jobs and decent wages

    7.         A responsive, open and accountable government

    8.         Restoration of all the lost freedoms and a return to


    9.         Above all , we have started as a collective and inclusive people,

    the way forward for our dear country must be decided by the collective.

    These are part of the key result indicators we shall measure leaders. Anyone who does not commit to this should not accept any state position. On our part we commit to put our all in the reconstruction of our dear nation Zimbabwe.

    To every season, there is a time for everything. We fought and hated each other. We damaged our relationship so deeply over the years. This is the time for truth and reconciliation to heal the wounds. Let us seriously talk about it and embrace each other for justice and progress sake.

    God bless Zimbabwe. God bless Africa


    Information Department

    Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) 2nd Floor Gorlon House

    7 Jason Moyo Street

    Harare, Zimbabwe

    Box 3549



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    Main findings and recommendations from the Marikana Inquiry

    By ACTSA | July 1, 2015

    Marikana Commission of Inquiry, summary of main findings and recommendations:





    The Commission has found that Lonmin did not use its best endeavours to resolve the disputes that arose between itself and its workers who participated in the unprotected strike on the one hand and between the strikers and those workers who did not participate in the strike.

    It also did not respond appropriately to the threat of, and the outbreak of violence.

    Lonmin also failed to employ sufficient safeguards and measures to ensure the safety of its employees.

    Lonmin also insisted that its employees who were not striking should come to work, despite the fact that it knew that it was not in a position to protect them from attacks by strikers.

    The Commission also criticized Lonmin’s implementation of undertakings with regards to the Social and Labour plans.



    The Commission has found that officials of AMCU did not exercise effective control over AMCU members and supporters in ensuring that their conduct was lawful and did not endanger the lives of others.


    They sang provocative songs and made inflammatory remarks, which tended to aggravate an already volatile situation.


    The Commission also noted that the President of AMCU, Mr Joseph Mathunjwa, did his best before the shootings to persuade the strikers to lay down their arms and leave the koppie.



    The National Union of Mineworkers did not exercise its best endeavours to resolve the dispute between itself and the strikers.


    The NUM wrongly advised Rock Drill Operators that no negotiations with Lonmin were possible until the end of the 2 year wage agreement.

    The union also did not take the initiative to persuade and enable Lonmin to speak to the workers.

    The NUM also failed to exercise effective control over its membership in ensuring that their conduct was lawful and did not endanger the lives of others.

    It encouraged and assisted non-striking workers to go to the shafts in circumstances where there was a real danger that they would be killed or injured by armed strikers.



    Individual strikers and loose groupings of strikers promoted a situation of conflict and confrontation which gave rise, directly or indirectly, to the deaths of Lonmin’s security guards and non-striking workers, and endangered the lives of the non-striking workers who were not injured.



    The Counsel for Injured and Arrested Persons alleged that Mr Cyril Ramaphosa is the cause of the Marikana massacre and that he must be held accountable for the death of 34 miners.

    The Commission has found that it cannot be said that Mr Ramaphosa was the cause of the massacre, and the accusations against him are groundless.



    The Counsel for Injured and Arrested Persons alleged that Mr Mthethwa is the cause of the Marikana massacre and that he must be held accountable for the death of 34 miners.

    The Commission found that the Executive played no role in the decision of the police to implement the tactical option on 16 August 2012, if the strikers did not lay down their arms, which led to the deaths of the 34 persons.



    The Counsel for Injured and Arrested Persons submitted that Minister Shabangu should be prosecuted on charges of corruption and perjury.

    No findings were made against Minister Shabangu.



    In respect of the tragic incident of 16 August 2012, the Commission found that the Police drew up an operational plan which entailed the encirclement of a relatively small group of strikers, who would be in the koppie early in the morning.

    The strategy entailed encircling the strikers with barbed wire, and offering them an exit point through which they would need to move while handing over their weapons.


    This phase was only capable of being implemented early in the morning when there was a relatively small number of strikers. Attempts were also made to negotiate with the strikers by the police.

    The encirclement plan was replaced by the tactical option which was defective in a number of respects.

    The tactical option was implemented at about 15h40 on that day, resulting in the death of strikers in scene 1 and scene 2.

    The Commission found that the police operation should not have taken place on 16 August because of the defects in the plan.

    The Commission has found that it would have been impossible to disarm and disperse the strikers without significant bloodshed, on the afternoon of the 16th of August.

    The police should have waited until the following day, when the original encirclement plan, which was substantially risk free, could have been implemented.

    The Commission also found that the decision that the strikers would be forcibly removed from the koppie by the police on 16 August if they did not voluntarily lay down their arms, was not taken by the tactical commanders on the ground.

    The decision was instead taken by Lieutenant-General Mbombo, the North West Police Commissioner, and was endorsed by the SAPS leadership at an extraordinary session of the National Management Forum.

    The Commission also found that the operation should have been stopped after the shooting at scene 1 and that there was also a complete lack of command and control at scene 2.

    The Commission has also questioned the conduct of the police management during the inquiry.

    The Police leadership did not initially disclose to the Commission, the fact that the original plan was not capable of being implemented on the first date and that it had been abandoned.

    In addition, police leadership did not inform the Commission that the decision to go ahead with the tactical option, if the strikers did not voluntarily lay down their arms and disperse, was taken at the National Management Forum meeting on 15 August. Instead, they informed the Commission that this decision was taken on the 16th of August, and only after the situation had escalated.

    The Commission has also raised serious concern that there was a delay of about an hour in getting medical assistance to the strikers who were injured at scene 1, and asserts that at least one striker might have survived if he had been treated timeously.



    The Commission recommends that Lonmin’s failure to comply with the housing obligations under the Social and Labour Plans should be drawn to the attention of the Department of Mineral Resources, which should take steps to enforce the performance of these obligations by Lonmin.


    The Commission has recommended that a Panel of Experts be appointed, comprising:

    • Senior officers of the Legal Department of the SAPS;

    • Senior Officers with extensive experience in Public Order Policing;


    • Independent experts in Public Order Policing, both local and international, who have experience in dealing with crowds, armed with sharp weapons and firearms, as presently prevalent in the South African context.


    This panel should, amongst others:

    • Revise and amend all prescripts relevant to Public Order Policing;

    • Investigate the world’s best practices and measures available for use, without resorting to the use of weapons capable of automatic fire, where Public Order Policing methods are inadequate.


    In Public Order Policing situations, operational decisions must be made by an officer in overall command, with recent and relevant training, skills and experience in public order policing.


    All radio communications should be recorded and the recordings should be preserved.

    Plans for Public Order Policing operations should identify the means of communication which SAPS members will use to communicate with one another.

    A protocol should be developed and implemented for communication in large operations including alternative mechanisms, where the available radio system is such that it will not provide adequate means of communication.

    The SAPS should review the adequacy of the training of the members who use specialized equipment such as water cannons and video equipment.

    All SAPS helicopters should be equipped with functional video cameras.

    In operations where there is a high likelihood of the use of force, the plan should include the provision of adequate and speedy first aid to those who are injured.

    The commission also emphasizes that all police officers should be trained in basic first aid.

    There should be a clear protocol which states that SAPS members with first aid training, who are at the scene of an incident where first aid is required, should administer first aid.

    Specialist firearm officers should receive additional training in the basic first aid skill needed to deal with gunshot wounds.


    The Commission adds that the recommendations by the National Planning Commission, for the demilitarization and professionalizing of the SAPS, should be implemented as a matter of priority.

    With regards to accountability, where a police operation and its consequences have been controversial, requiring further investigation, the Minister and the National Commissioner should take care when making public statements or addressing members of the SAPS. They should not say anything which might have the effect of ‘closing the ranks’ or discourage members who are aware of inappropriate actions, from disclosing what they know.

    The standing orders should more clearly require a full audit trail and an adequate recording of police operations.

    The SAPS and its members should accept that they have a duty of public accountability and truth-telling, because they exercise force on behalf of all South Africans, the Commission states.

    The staffing and resourcing of the Independent Police Investigations Directorate (IPID) should be reviewed to ensure that it is able to carry out its functions effectively.



    The Commission recommends a full investigation, under the direction of the Director of Public Prosecutions in North West, with a view to ascertaining criminal liability on the part of all members of the SAPS who were involved in the incidents at scene 1 and 2.

    For the purposes of the investigation, a team should be appointed, headed by a Senior State Advocate, together with independent experts in the reconstruction of crime scenes, expert ballistic and forensic pathologists practitioners and Senior Investigators from IPID, and any such further experts as may be necessary.



    The Commission also recommends that all the killings and assaults that took place between 11 and 15 August 2012, should be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions, for further investigation and to determine whether there is a basis for prosecution.

    The Commission states that the propensity in South Africa presently for the carrying of sharp instruments and firearms and the associated violence even in service delivery protests, requires the strict enforcement of the laws that prohibit such conduct.

    It pointed out that the Lonmin workers can be seen very clearly on videos and photographs in possession of dangerous weapons at the public gatherings or in public places.

    The Commission has thus called for a further investigation of offences, in terms of the Regulation of Gatherings Act and the Possession of Dangerous Weapons Act.

    The Commission has also recommended that there must be an inquiry into the fitness to hold office, of the National Police Commissioner as well as the North West Provincial Police Commissioner in terms of Section 9 of the South African



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    Marikana Inquiry Incomplete – A summary

    By ACTSA | July 1, 2015

    Marikana – a terrible tragedy that should not have occurred.

    44 people were killed around the Marikana platinum mine about 2 and half hours north-west of Johannesburg between 11 –16 August 2012. 34 were killed by the South African police on the 16 August.

    The Marikana Commission of Inquiry has reported. It makes criticism of the police, Lonmin (the mining company that owned the mine), the striking miners and the trade unions.

    The terms of reference of the Commission of Inquiry were, “to investigate matters of public, national and international concern arising out of the tragic incidents at the Lonmin Mine in Marikana, in the North West Province which took place on about Saturday 11 August to Thursday 16 August, 2012 which led to the deaths of approximately 44 people, more than 70 persons being injured, approximately 250 people being arrested.”

    Most criticism is directed at the police operation for the killings on the 16 August. The commission found that the police decided to move from an encirclement and containment plan, which in the Commission’s view could have been implemented without significant risk of loss of life on the morning of 16 August or the following day to a plan to demand the striking miners disarm and if not force would be used which would inevitably lead to bloodshed. The Commission also severely criticised the police for not ceasing shooting at scene 1 where 16 people were killed and that at scene 2 where 17 people were killed there was a, “complete lack of control and command”.

    The Commission recommends a full investigation to ascertain criminal liability on the part of all members of the South Africa police who were involved in the incidents at scene 1 and 2.


    The Commission recommends that there be further investigation into all the killings and assaults that took place between 11 and 15 August 2012 to determine whether there is a basis for prosecution.


    The Commission recommended that there must be an inquiry into the fitness to hold office, of the National Police Commissioner as well as the North West Provincial Police Commissioner.


    The Commission found that the Executive played no role in the decision of the police to implement the tactical option on 16 August 2012, if the strikers did not lay down their arms, which led to the deaths of the 34 persons.


    The Commission is critical of the conduct of Lonmin for its failure for not doing more to resolve the dispute, not doing more to ensure the safety of employees, not responding effectively to the threat and outbreak of violence and failure to implement social undertakings it had committed to do.


    The Commission criticised the conduct the trade unions for not doing more to reduce tensions and conflict between workers.


    The Marikana Commission of Inquiry did not however consider the wider context in which Marikana occurred.


    The Commission recognises that the catalyst for the dispute was the decision of management at another platinum mine owned by Impala Platinum to unilaterally go beyond a three wage deal and pay some workers more. This led to resentment by workers at that mine and then at other mines that they were not getting an increase. It put the National Union of Mineworkers in a difficult position. It thought it had negotiated the best deal possible but then some workers they represented got an increase. The unilateral breaking of the three wage deal weakened their credibility and to some their legitimacy.


    …” the tragic events at Marikana are rooted in widespread labour disputes in the area, particularly, at Lonmin‟ s Karee mine and at the nearby Impala Platinum Mine („Implats‟) which were characterized by violence, intimidation and loss of life and the undermining of agreed collective bargaining processes;” Marikana Commission of Inquiry


    Why does the platinum sector have negotiation mine by mine whereas wage negotiations for gold mining is across the sector? In whose interests was mine by mine negotiation?

    Why 20 years after South Africa’s first democratic elections are conditions for many miners, most of whom are migrants still so poor?

    These are questions the Marikana Commission of Inquiry did not address. It was not in their terms of reference and they have interpreted their terms of reference quite narrowly. What was required was a shorter but thorough inquiry about what actually happened and as far as possible why and who is responsible for the events between 9 and 16 August and a broader inquiry into the mining industry which is what COSATU, the trade union federation called for.


    Why are many migrant workers still living in terrible conditions? Why is the industry still based around migrant labour who are away from their families and homes for 11 months a year and therefore many develop, acquire two families/homes? Why in disputes in South Africa is there the willingness to use force, sometimes and terribly and overwhelming in the case of Marikana lethal force by the police and by protesters. Why are a number of corporate social responsibility projects about PR  and not substantial and lasting improvements? What is needed to bring about transformation of the mining industry so it treats its workers more fairly and ensures benefits also flow to the communities and areas the mines are located? Has the mining industry changed in the three years since Marikana? Has policing of protests? Do protesters behave differently?


    Those who recklessly and needlessly caused and contributed to the deaths of 44 people in and around Marikana between 9 -16 August by their actions and in-actions should face justice. But as well as individuals there is the need to address systemic weaknesses and failures in and across the mining industry, in policing and by those engaging in labour and community protests.




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    Swaziland Trade Union Federation TUCOSWA unbanned

    By Fiona | May 13, 2015

    ACTSA strongly welcomes the decision taken by the Swaziland Ministry of Labour & Social Security to effectively unban the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA). TUCOSWA was registered with the Commissioner of Labour on 12 May 2015. TUCOSWA was initially registered in January 2012, although this registration was withdrawn by the Swaziland authorities 15 months later, in effect rendering the organisation illegal. The International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Committee on Freedom of Association found that this act of de-registration was contrary to Swaziland’s obligations under ILO Conventions. ACTSA will continue to work with TUCOSWA for labour and other human rights in Swaziland.  ACTSA pays tribute to the commitment and persistence of TUCOSWA and its affiliates in continuing to  push for the freedom of organisation, assembly and expression.

    Topics: News from ACTSA | 1 Comment »

    Labour MEPs: EU must act against “intolerable” human rights abuses in Swaziland

    By Mark | March 24, 2015

    European Parliamentary Labour Party

    Following reprisal measures taken against Swazi prisoner of conscience and trade unionist Thulani Maseko, Labour MEPs have urged the EU to act against intolerable human rights abuses in Swaziland.

    Mr Maseko, a lawyer working for the Read the rest of this entry »

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    Letter from Hobeni 20: The role of solidarity

    By Mark | December 12, 2014

    In my previous letters, I have tried to avoid making statements about party politics in South Africa.   But when the President of the country says publicly that the ANC, the governing party, is “in trouble”, it does seem that the issue is unavoidable.   I have only one problem.   It is very difficult, in a remote rural area like Hobeni, to keep a track on what exactly is Read the rest of this entry »

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    A letter from Cape Town

    By Mark | November 19, 2014

    I am having a week’s holiday in Cape Town.   On the day I arrived, the South African Parliament descended into chaos.   This was entirely coincidental.   It was obvious that the vote on the Nkandla report in the Parliament would be controversial.   It was entirely predictable that the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) would use the occasion to make a Read the rest of this entry »

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    Swazi workers pay for government repression with their jobs

    By Mark | November 6, 2014

    by Mantoe Phakathi 

    Equal Times

    Less than two weeks after the Swazi government announced the immediate banning of all trade unions and employer federations in the country, Swazi workers are reeling from the news that Read the rest of this entry »

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    COSATU Deputy President’s Address to ACTSA Conference

    By Mark | November 3, 2014

    Keynote address by Tyotyo James, 1st Deputy President of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, to Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA), formerly the Anti-Apartheid Movement

    1 November 2014

    Thank you for inviting me to address this important gathering, celebrating the 20th anniversary of democracy in South Africa. I bring greetings and best wishes from the National Office Bearers and 2.2 million members of the Congress of South African Trade Unions – COSATU.

    I must begin by thanking all those in the Read the rest of this entry »

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    Swaziland Monarchy Urged to Reverse Trade Union Ban

    By Mark | October 15, 2014

    Morning Star

    Pressure grew on Swaziland’s monarchy today to reverse its decision to dissolve all trade unions and employer federations.

    UNI Global Union has added its voice to a chorus of international condemnation of last week’s diktat by Labour and Social Security Minister Winnie Magagula, instructing all federations to cease operation immediately.

    The draconian Read the rest of this entry »

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