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ASRI Report with Dr Imraan Buccus


By Neelam Rahim

We are focusing on the chaos of our politics extending to unions and why unions are so significant in politics. 

Radio Islam discusses with Dr Imraan Buccus.

“Our politics are generally chaotic, and I thought it might be better to talk about something other than what we are preoccupied with. And maybe extend to the fact that just as our politics and political organisations are in chaos, so are our unions. If we think about mass organisations in the country, our main union federations SAFTU and COSATU, perhaps also adding the SACP gives us close to three million members. The mass organisation in terms of possible alternatives for the future that many of us have been thinking about are significant in our politics particularly,” says Dr Imraan.

How do NUMSA and SAFTU make up the bigger picture of unions in South Africa?

Dr Imraan explains, “A few years ago, numsa broke away from COSATU due to the fallout between Irvin Jim and cosatu. A new federation was created, ‘The South African Federation of Trade Unions, led by the former general secretary of Cosatu, Zwelinzima Vavi. This federation has approximately seven hundred thousand members, of which fifty thousand are made up of numsa. We have seen the same kind of brutal contestation that we see in the ANC and other affirmations in SAFTU. Many people wanted Vavi to be out, so they had a National conference recently where a lot of manipulation and contestations were happening behind the scenes. Vavi emerged victorious; however, there is still a very fragile relationship between Vavi and Jim, who is part of numsa.”

Dr Imraan further says, “The point I wanted to make is that people are disillusioned with trade unions. The kind of infighting, corruption and the fight for the public are all disillusioning. Another part of our national politics that might be worth thinking about in the context of trade unionism is that those employed and those who belong to trade unions are in some way seen as the elite of the working class. Because in South Africa, we have such mass unemployment, and that’s a sector that we are not thinking sufficiently about if we are thinking about alternatives in our politics.” We are told over 65% of young people are unemployed, so if we are thinking of building mass organisations and building a mass base of unemployed and working-class people, there are considerable possibilities at that end of the political spectrum.” 





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