Nehawu: Civil servants stayed away from polls because of salary, service cuts

Nehawu, which is an affiliate of Cosatu, also admitted that it had scaled down its campaign for the ANC ahead of the local government elections, owing to a lack of funds that it said would ordinarily be raised through workers' contributions.

Millions of South Africans will head to the polls on 1 November 2021 to make their mark in the local government elections. Picture: Mia Lindique/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - One of the country's largest public-sector unions, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) on Tuesday said workers stayed away from the polls to protest budget cuts that affected services and pay.

Nehawu, which is an affiliate of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) also admitted that it had scaled down its campaign for the African National Congress (ANC) ahead of the local government elections, owing to a lack of funds that it said would ordinarily be raised through workers' contributions.

Nehawu president Mike Shingange said the low electoral turnout and decline in the ANC’s support were due to what the union described as the "current untenable and unsustainable neoliberal" trajectory in the country.

He has mentioned the cuts to the CCMA’s budget, which saw the agency reduce the number of commissioners it uses, and failure to raise public sector employees' salaries as some of the factors that influenced workers to stay home.

“The chunk of that would have come from the families of the public servants that are struggling, the families that are seeing their breadwinners being brutalised.”

Nehawu held its 12th national congress last week where Shingange was elected president replacing its long-standing president Mzwandile Makwaiba.

NO LONGER TRUST ‘IRRELEVANT ANC’ TO ATTAIN NDR

Nehawu has reiterated the call for the federation and the South African Communist Party to urgently form a left popular front.

Although the popular left front now being punted by Nehawu is nothing new, the union raises that this would be an alternative in the face of what it said was an “irrelevant ANC”.

Cosatu is in an alliance with the ANC and SACP, however, Nehawu said it no longer trusted the governing party to lead the push for the attainment of the national democratic revolution (NDR).

Shingange said: “If we were to redirect the direction of the NDR, including getting the ANC to do the things on behalf of the majority of South Africans, we need this formation, together with society to play their role.”

Nehawu further said the stagnation of the NDF had led to the current socioeconomic crisis of mass unemployment, poverty and inequality in the country with no solutions in sight.

The NDR is the ideology of the ANC-Cosatu-SACP alliance, which has often been described as the glue that holds it together.