Issue No. 2
TOWARDS SECOND DECADE OF FREEDOM
20 September 2002
At Kliptown, on 26 June 1955, we, the People of South Africa, took a solemn vow to fight side by side, never giving up, until such time that racial inequality, sexism, poverty, are all destroyed, in all their different forms, and a society founded on just and humane principles has been born.
Today, we stand at the threshold of history. We are giving birth to that society for which so many of our gallant people sacrificed so much.
This, South Africa, is the cradle on which the African Union has just been born. It is of immense significance that we have the privilege of being the first chair of the African Union. Through the AU, we are realising our commitment to cooperation among the peoples of Africa and are working towards the realisation of a peaceful, prosperous and just Africa. On the historic event of the return and reburial of the remains of Sarah Baartman, on the 9th August 2002, National Women`s Day, we rededicated ourselves to the struggle for women`s emancipation. We must continue speeding-up the emancipation and empowerment of women, driven by the knowledge that the women of our country have borne the brunt of the oppressive and exploitative system of colonial and apartheid domination.
That the place of final rest for Sarah Baartmann has been designated as a National Heritage Site is a fitting source for celebration in this month of Heritage and Culture. In this land of diverse and majestic beauty, let us foster reconciliation, national unity, and a common heritage.
As cadres of our national liberation movement, let us heed the vow; let us continue to unite in action for change. Let us engage vigorously, at all levels of our constitutional structures, in preparations for Policy and National Conferences.
The Struggle Continues
History has always been harsh to Africans but to Sarah Bartmann, a daughter of the soil, it was even worse. A sober atmosphere filled the National Assembly as parliamentarians put aside their differences and paid tribute to our ancestor on the 8th of August 2002.
Sarah a daughter of the Khoi people was born in Eastern Cape in 1879. In 1910 a British Naval Surgeon, William Dunlop took her away from her motherland South Africa to London. On the 29th January 2002 the French Senate approved legislation to repatriate the remains of Sarah Bartmann. The debate of this law in the French National Assembly took place under the theme “Repatriation of the Hottentot Venus”. On the 21st February 2002 the legislation was adopted. In a moving speech by Minister of Housing Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele said: “The African continent at the time was not regarded by Europe as a place of historical entity, its people, its religion, its tradition and its culture only made sense when interpreted through the eyes and consciousness of Europe. Africa was regarded as a continent divided by civilisation, which could be described as “White Africa”and “Black Africa”.
That was the time when Africa was vulnerable. Colonialism took advantage of these unfortunate circumstances and moved in to rob Africa of its dignity. Sarah became one of those who suffered under colonial prejudice, she became the victim of racism which embodied the superiority of a people whose culture and norms operated on the basis that what they could not understand, or comprehend, had to be inferior since they regarded themselves as the better race. What they believed in had to be better than anyone else`s beliefs. That was colonialism at play.
The sole purpose of Sarah`s abductors was to exhibit her in the Piccadilly Circus as an item of interest – basically viewed as a creature to be paraded to the European audiences for jest and entertainment. Her captors saw in her a commodity that they could use for making profit from the circus. Rational analysis makes us to doubt if the exact intention for her to be taken to Europe was explained when lured out of her country of birth. All we are told is that she was promised a share of the profits, which will be generated through the `wonder` that she was – how sad. A so-called civilised class debased itself to levels of disgrace and disregard for human dignity and respect. Abuse at its highest level.
The story of Sarah Bartmann reveals the saddest part of our history as a country and the humiliation that was meted out by colonial forces to the people of Africa. From top of the continent to south of Sahara, colonialism ravaged the culture of the peoples of this continent, accelerated the erosion of the unity of the groups and communities in the continent. ….
Sarah Bartmann, a woman of Khoi origin, was identified as a subject for scorn and humiliation. She was “exported” to Europe, a continent far away from her homeland, divided from her continent by the sea. How would she, even if she longed for home, be able to swim across back to the shores of the Cape seas? How would she run away back to her home of warm summers and green fields? She was encaged, enslaved and marketed in the circus as a strange creation of nature.
Sarah must have felt lost, desolated and lonely, and those who tried to fight for her freedom in the British courts, the abolitionists – were told that Sarah signed a contract willingly implying that she signed up for humiliation, degradation, scorn, prejudice, exclusion, racism and sexism. Did Sarah really want to be paraded naked along a stage two feet high, to be exhibited like a wild beast, forced to walk, stand or sit as ordered? We have heard that before, have we not? The slaves are happy with the treatment the masters and madams give them, these people would rather be here than anywhere else, so said the masters trying to justify their acts.
Sarah is one of us. She is back home; she is here to receive the burial that human beings are accorded by their families, communities and countries. Sarah is back to remind humanity that human rights, respect, dignity, befits all persons no matter who they are, where they come from, what they are called and named, they belong to someone, they belong to a community and to a family. They have relatives who love them. We love you Sarah for who you were, one of us shipped to the diaspora to confirm the prejudices of colonial masters, to satisfy the curiosity of a French scientist who could not resist to cut up her body when she died, dissect it to conduct experiments also as way of investigating whether she was real enough to be classified as a human, or whether she actually belonged to the circus as part of the animal kingdom tamed to entertain circus -goers.
Sarah`s brain and other soft tissues were preserved; her skeletal remains were put on a museum display until the 1970`s. Her debasement in both life and death came to reflect in very confirmed practical manner the voracity of an unfounded racial superiority complex….
This is the triumph of our people, from ashes of the oppression, from the scourge of apartheid and colonialism firmly convinced that safeguarding human rights and women`s rights is a struggle we must all continue to wage to ensure that human beings are treated equally with dignity. ….
To achieve genuine equality in our country, our programmes must be based on the real understanding of what gender oppression can do to a nation. Sarah`s history of persecution and humiliation is but an illustration of what happens to those who are discriminated upon on a basis of colour, sex or geographic exclusion. We are one nation that cannot afford to accept any form of discrimination after what we have gone through as a collective.
Oppression is rooted in a material base, it is expressed in socio-cultural attitudes all of which are supported and perpetuated by an ideology, which subordinates women. The history of oppression in our country has clearly demonstrated the fact that women became the instruments through which the strength, the resilience of our people were tested. They were thrown to the lowest ladder of the economic structures, turned into breeders of labour for the mines and farms, and forced to do the dirty and humiliating work churned out for the institutionalised systems that relegated them to the levels of sub-humans. Women in this country, particularly African women were subjugated, deprived and marginalised in many ways. They were regarded as junior and inferior to the male species. They make up the majority of the unemployed, the disempowered; they were not in decision -making structures. But our democratic approach to human beings today is to change such patterns of discriminatory practice.
On the 4th August 2002, in the City of Cape Town Civic Centre, Women`s organisations performed the dressing of the remains of Sarah to accord her dignity. This type of dressing ceremony is a sacred rite performed in Khoisan, African and Moslem cultures. It is usually performed by elders to prepare a body for burial. The funeral took place in the Eastern Cape on the banks of Gamtoos River. It was attended by high profile government delegation.
The President of the country, comrade Thabo Mbeki had this to say:
” We cannot undo the damage that was done to her. But at least we can summon the courage to speak the naked but healing truth that must comfort her whenever she may be.I speak of courage because there are many in our country who would urge constantly that we should not speak of the past. They pour scorn on those who speak about who we are and where we come from and why we are where we are today. They make bold to say the past is no longer, and all that remains is a future that will be. But, today, the gods would be angry with us if we did not, on the banks of the Gamtoos River, at the grave of Sarah Bartmann, call out for restoration of the dignity of Sarah Bartmann, of the Khoi-San, of the millions of Africans who have known centuries of wretchedness.
Sarah Bartmann should never have been transported to Europe. Sarah Bartmaan should never have been robbed of her name and relabelled Sarah Bartmann. Sarah Bartmann should never have been stripped of her native, Khoi-San and African identity, paraded in Europe as a savage monstrosity…. Indeed, where did the monstrosity lie in the matter of gross abuse of a defenceless African woman in England and France! It was not the abuse of a human being who was monstrous but those who abused her. It was not the lonely African woman in Europe, alienated from her identity and her motherland who was barbarian, but those who treated her with barbaric brutality…
Today we celebrate our National Women`s Day. We therefore convey our congratulations and best wishes to all women of our country. We mark this day fully conscious of the responsibility that falls on us to ensure that we move with great speed towards the accomplishment of the goal of creation of a non-sexist society. … It will never be possible for us to claim that we are making significant progress to create a new South Africa if we do not make significant progress towards gender equality and the emancipation of women.”
The late Comrade President O.R. Tambo once said “We would not consider our objectives achieved, our tasks completed or our struggle at an end until the women are fully liberated”
These words are still relevant today.
The World Summit on Sustainable Development was held in Johannesburg, from 26th August till 4th September 2002. South Africa was participating for the first time because of the apartheid regime`s isolation. The overall conclusion is that the summit was successful.
South Africa as a country is not unique amongst other countries in terms of its relationship with the environment. Modernisation and urbanisation resulted in a change of life style. Today`s interaction of human beings and nature is no longer close as it use to. The role of big companies in destroying our environment is public knowledge. The failure to recognise the interdependent relationship between nature and humankind needs urgent attention.
Contamination of underground water in Vanderbijlpark, air pollution in Isithebe, chemicals being dumped in the sea in Cape Town and many more are living examples of environmental degredation. The urbanisation of our population means that a lot of people are no longer involved in small-scale farming. The lack of land in urban areas for farming purpose adds to this problem.
In Stockholm 1972 the emphasis was on the need to respond to the problem of environmental deterioration. In 1992 Rio de Janeiro, the focus was on the protection of environment, social and economic development which are essential to sustainable development. A global programme called Agenda 21 was adopted.
This programme included amongst other things gender, social and population development, racism, food, children, habitat, Aids, trade, financing from development and the environment. This summit was a significant milestone that set a new agenda for sustainable development.
The Johannesburg Summit was the biggest conference ever hosted by United Nations.
More than 500 meetings and events associated with the summit took place.
Three hundred partnership agreements were announced during the summit and specific agreements committed funds to particular projects. European Union committed billions of Euro to help meet the water and sanitation needs of our continent, as identified by NEPAD.
The United Nations released a number of statistics, it says “1.2 billion of the world`s people must survive on less than one dollar per day. About 1.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water.” This clearly demonstrates the challenges that are facing humanity. One of the achievements of this summit was the delivery of clear targets and time frames covering areas like water, sanitation, health, agriculture and food security, energy, biodiversity, housing and trade.
The President of ANC said in ANC Today, “the summit did not achieve all the results we sought. Accordingly, we should not treat its outcome as a ceiling, the maximum of what we, and the rest of the world, are required to do to promote sustainable development.”
We are convinced; the summit was not a talk show. Meaningful and practical plans were put in place. The ANC said before the summit that it`s success would depend on its contribution to decisive action to end poverty and underdevelopment. The commitments made by countries to the implementation plan reflect clear progress towards this objective.
Some of these commitments are:
To halve the proportion of people without access to safe water and sanitation and the proportion of those living in poverty by 2015. The summit committed countries to improve access to reliable, cheap, and viable and environmentally – sound energy.
Sound management of chemicals and hazardous waste, countries said that by 2020 chemicals should be used and produced in ways that minimise harm to human health and the environment.
By 2005 strategies for developing food security in Africa must be completed.
In addition, the role of women at all levels and in all aspects of rural development, agriculture, nutrition and food security must be enhanced. The summit committed itself to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction in the current rate of loss of biodiversity, which amongst other things will require new and additional financial and technical support to developing countries.
The summit undertook to restore fishing stocks to sustainable levels by not later than 2015. It made commitment to establish a network of marine protected areas by 2012.
Agreement was reached to establish a 10-year framework of programmes, which would support regional and national initiatives to speed up the shift towards sustainable consumption and production.
The Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development recognises challenges that we face as the world. Critical amongst others are the following:
It recognises that poverty eradication, changing consumption and production patterns, and protecting and managing the natural resources base for economic and social development are overarching objectives of, and essential requirements for sustainable development.
The deep fault line that divides human society between the rich and the poor, and the ever-increasing gap between the developed and developing worlds pose a major threat to global prosperity, security and stability. The further acknowledgement was that the global environment continues to suffer. An added dimension to these challenges is globalisation.
The commitment to sustainable development recognises the importance of building human solidarity, urge the promotion of dialogue and co-operation among the world`s civilisations and people`s; irrespective of race, disabilities, religion, language, culture and tradition.
A clear commitment was made regarding children, indigenous people and women in relation to their protection. The summit welcomed NEPAD as part of alliances and stronger regional co-operation that has a role in sustainable development.
The end of WSSD means that we must go back to work and implement the action plan. Members of our Parliament interacted with this summit at various levels. The Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs and tourism through a body of legislators, GLOBE (Global Legislators for Balanced Environment) hosted a conference on sustainable development ahead of the summit on 2nd October 2001. The other conference on Desertification took place on the 10th – 11th July 2002 in Windhoek, Namibia. At the WSSD itself MP`s of the world were hosted by the South African Government and Inter-parliamentary Union primarily to prepare MP`s for the outcome of the WSSD and the Johannesburg Program of Action which will undoubtedly need legislative enactments to implement some of the decisions of the WSSD.
The resolutions of this conference reinforce RDP policies. This will mean determining a plan in line with the summit resolutions. The challenge facing the United Nations is to ensure that governments implement the resolutions undertaken at the Johannesburg Summit.
When progress is reviewed in 2012, it will be critical to demonstrate that the quality of life and the economic opportunity of people who currently live in poverty have significantly improved, and that the next generation will live in a safer and healthier environment.
Since the historic advent of a democratic South Africa in 1994, the African National Congress (ANC) government has built more than one million houses for our people. This is, of course, in keeping with our policy of providing housing, security and a better life for all – all this being part of our effort to reverse destruction caused by more than three centuries of apartheid oppression.
Significantly, this year marks one of the most challenging periods in the housing sector, as a result of the changes in our programmes aimed at speeding up the process of ensuring that all South Africans live in decent houses.
The decision taken about two yeas ago, that at least 10 % of the provincial housing budgets should be allocated to women developers. Another significant tool of empowerment and quality enhancement to our housing products is the people`s housing process, of which we have decided to set aside at least 10 % of provincial budgets towards its advancement. Both these actions are directed at tapping the huge potential productivity found in the collective efforts of our communities. One of our strategic objectives is to ensure that officials in the three spheres of governance and other key stakeholders are adequately informed regarding new developments in the housing sector. For this, we have undertaken to provide various capacity programmes, the impact of which will depend on the manner in which our resources at provincial and local spheres of government are aligned to optimally benefit our people.
Our long time struggle to unlock housing finance remains one of our priorities and should be tackled from all angles. Our government seeks to introduce the Community Reinvestment Bill through parliament in an attempt to bring the banking sector on board. This Bill will enable us to monitor the manner in which financial institutions lend money to the poor communities, without crippling their business. This will definitely assist in breaking the barriers in terms of lending to the poor by the financial institutions.
The National Savings Programme for housing has clearly confirmed our long time belief that our poor communities have a potential of meeting their financial obligations as long as they are given a chance to do so. Launched barely a year ago by government and our private sector partners, the number of savings clubs has been growing at an alarming rate, an indication that our people have financial discipline and therefore can meet their financial obligations. The long term objective of this programme is to cultivate a culture of savings amongst the poor and help them build a good reputation of being able to make regular repayments. This is also a step towards integrating our people into the mainstream economy.
The government`s low-cost housing programme on its own has benefited mostly the emerging contractors with 84 % of the 1,3 million houses that we have built. This actually implies that a great number of the historically disadvantaged communities have benefited in our R16,8 billion that we have invested in the construction of houses since 1994.
In attempting to meet the needs of low and medium income households in accessing home loan finance, the Bill provides for financial institutions to:
- Refrain from refusing home loan finance to borrowers purely on the grounds of the current or future expected socio-economic characteristics of the residents in the neighbourhood in which the home is located
- Refrain from the practice of redlining other than where dictated by safe and sound business principles
- Afford borrowers the necessary dignity, courtesy and honesty when discussing and processing applications for mortgage loans
- Communicate transparently and openly with borrowers during all stages of negotiations
- Communicate openly and clearly with all borrowers on the outcome of their applications and furnish reasons in writing for rejected applications
- Encourage, where possible, a climate of saving amongst home owners and borrowers and provide meaningful incentives to those who save
- Notwithstanding any reasons that are considered acceptable by the minister, meet or exceed the targets and standards prescribed by the minister for lending to households with low and medium income levels
- If they are unable to meet these targets and standards by lending directly to such end-users, opt for one or any combination of the following:
- provide funding through a prescribed wholesale lender at a mutually agreed interest rate for on-lending to niche lenders to provide end-user loans
- purchase such wholesale lenders` securities and debt issues; and
- provide funding directly to niche market lenders to make available for end user loans
Just as the Freedom Charter states that “There Shall be Houses, Security and Comfort”, and so it shall remain the fundamental challenge of the ANC to meet this objective. We remain committed to providing a supportive political, social and economic environment for all our people.
The transformation of our society demands that all institutions, public and private, reflect the demographics of our land South Africa. Because of the political, economic and social ills unleashed upon our peoples by more than three centuries of apartheid rule, the majority of Blacks still languish in abject poverty and isolation from the economic mainstream.
In its continued efforts to reverse these gross human rights injustices, and to improve the living standards of our people, the African National Congress (ANC), has passed a number of landmark laws in Parliament. For example, the long-awaited Communal Land Rights Bill, introduced in Parliament for public comment recently, seeks to restore land ownership to thousands of South Africans forcefully evicted under the 1913 and 1936 Land Acts. This land is currently held in trust by the state, churches or white farmers and our government has called upon all rightful inhabitants to make formal applications so that it can be returned to them. In the same vein, the ANC-led government has introduced the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Bill, which Parliament voted into law in June. This piece of legislation also gives birth to the Mining Charter, which seeks to transform South Africa`s mining industry so that it genuinely serves the needs of the nation as a whole. In order to understand the significance of the Charter fully, we need to understand its historical context. Mining is thought by most people to be an activity and an industry that was introduced to southern Africa with colonialism, and established by white colonialists. This is not true – mining activities have been taking place in southern Africa for around 30 000 years. Iron, copper and gold, and other minerals were mined before the arrival of white settlers. In the 14th century, more than half the world`s gold came from southern Africa. Mine tunnels from this time stretched for hundreds of metres underground. However, it took industrial technology and imperial capital to develop the rich gold and diamond reserves of South Africa on a large scale.
When diamonds and gold were discovered, black miners prospered and frequently ran their own small diggings. It is possible that great black-owned mining houses would have sprung up with the likes of Anglo American if history had unfolded in a less repressive fashion in South Africa. In fact, the development of mining and the development of apartheid cannot be separated. From the discovery of diamonds and gold onwards, increasingly repressive and restrictive laws were passed by the colonial government with the aim of coercing black people to work in the mines. At the same time, successive laws were passed barring black people from owning or operating mines themselves, or even occupying any position in the industry except as unskilled labourers, until this situation was formally entrenched under the apartheid state. A tiny white minority earned super profits, while a black majority earned slave wages, worked in extremely unhealthy conditions, and lived hundreds or even thousands of kilometres from their families. For the majority of South Africans, the minerals industry was a curse instead of a blessing.
The first serious challenge to this status quo came from the unions, who began to organise black workers in the 70s. By the 90s massive gains had been made, wage levels had increased, the colour bar restricting black advancement had been scrapped, and `acts of god` had decreased remarkably on the mines. With the election of the first democratic government in 1994, the question of a more thorough transformation arose. To quote from a 1994 ANC policy document:
“In the past, the exploitation of South Africa`s vast mineral resources predominantly went to the betterment of the small white minority.. ..Today there is not a single black mining company.. ..Government revenue accruing from mining went predominantly to improve the life chances of the small white minority via racially biased social spending in areas such as health, education and social welfare. With the attainment of democracy in South Africa the mining industry will finally come to benefit all of its people….However, changing the racially-skewed ownership patterns of the industry will be a slow process. There are major limitations to new entrants in the industry other than via the purchase of an existing mining company. This is due to the fact that, unlike most of the rest of the world, in South Africa mineral rights are predominantly privately owned over the most prospective mineral terrains, generally by the large white mining houses. The new democratic government of national unity is committed to exploring ways of easing up access to mineral rights for both new domestic investors and foreign investors.”
Since the Minerals and Energy portfolio was initially occupied by a Nationalist minister (Pik Botha) under the Government of National Unity, transformation was slow, and only really got underway in 1996 when an ANC minister was appointed. In 1998 a White Paper was released, which clearly stated government`s aim to transform the industry, and in 2000 the first draft of the Minerals Bill was released for public comment. There was a storm of protest from industry. Fundamentally the Bill was about mineral rights. Mineral rights are the foundation of the mining industry, and thus any transformation should start here. Traditionally in South Africa, minerals rights were privately owned. By world standards this is very unusual. Two major effects of this are that mineral rights were owned by a small elite of white individuals and mining companies, and b) companies owned mineral reserves not only to mine them, but to prevent new entrants from mining them, thus controlling the market.
Government`s objective was thus twofold – to transform the industry by promoting new black entrants, and to unlock the mineral reserves of the country for new investors. At the same time, government aimed to link the granting of mineral rights to a range of conditions specifying environmental, labour and social commitments to be undertaken by the miners to alleviate the impacts of mining and unlock wealth of the industry for the benefit of all.
The Bill was tabled in parliament in an amended form, having accommodated some for the concerns of industry without compromising the basic principles of the original bill, and passed by parliament in June 2002. One of the central features of the Bill was the process whereby mining rights will be granted, which specified that in applying for a mining right, applicants must show that they will be furthering the aims of the Bill, which include a substantial black economic empowerment component in the project, environmental measures and a social and labour plan.
The specific requirements for these criteria are not contained in the Bill itself. Rather, the Bill refers to a Mining Charter, which the Minister of Minerals and Energy is required to finalise shortly after the Bill is signed into law by the President. In theory, the Minister is not obliged to consult with the mining industry, but in reality, a co-operative process is currently underway, which government hopes will result in a widely-supported document. Initial opposition by the mining industry has largely given way to creative co-operation. Details of the Charter are thus not yet available, as the negotiations are still underway. The Charter and the Bill together will entrench a much broader concept of Black Economic Empowerment, namely Broad-Based Socio-Economic Empowerment.
The aim of this is to empower a wide range of players in the mining industry, as well as new black mining entrepreneurs. Prospective black mining entrepreneurs and investors will of course have easy access to mineral rights and finance, both on their own account and in partnership with established companies, but empowerment in this context is also designed to ensure employment equity and transfer of skills, especially in professions and senior management, and to ensure that small miners and communities in mining areas benefit from mining. Another way in which communities will benefit is through improved environmental governance; mining has often had very negative effects on the health of communities during mining and after mining activities have ceased.
Government will also have increased powers to act against mining companies that do not follow health and safety or environmental regulations. Mining companies will also have to undertake to plan for mine closing, so that communities are not adversely affected by this; in addition, a proportion of mining revenue will be invested in local development, to ensure that the benefits of mining are felt in the mining areas – Mining will thus be integrated into other regional development goals. Consultations on the Mining Charter are expected to be completed in a few weeks` time, after which the Charter will be officially launched.
Another important policy goal of government is to encourage local beneficiation of mineral products, to increase the value of exports and create more local employment. This will be dealt with in a separate piece of legislation which will come before parliament early next year.
Domestic workers are amongst the worse exploited group of workers in our country. They work long hours without security for their jobs. Over years this sector remains unorganised because of the nature of their work. The employers are at will to do whatever they like about these workers, and the majority are women.
One of the strategic objectives of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) is to improve the social, political and economic position of women. Fundamental to this commitment is the eradication of women`s triple oppression ( race, class and gender) and determine their place as rightful citizens of our society.
Despite the fact that our world-acclaimed Constitution provides security and dignity for all South Africans, the majority of South African women still toil day in and day out in households for meagre salaries. This also has serious social ramifications as many children are forced to grow in the absence of their mothers, as they spend most of time at the employers` house trying to earn a living. Salaries of these employees are not able to give them a muscle of taking their kids to schools including tertiary level. Let alone to maintain their families.
It is for this reason that the African National Congress government passed legislation to ensure that domestic workers also enjoy a minimum wage. Domestic workers throughout South Africa will be guaranteed a minimum wage as from 1st November this year, under the Domestic Workers Sectoral Determination.
“We have taken the first steps in the transformation of the domestic worker sector. The labour laws are in place, skills training and social security benefits are under way. Our society should come to terms with the need to give domestic workers a fair deal at work,” Labour Minister, Membathisi Mdladlana told the National Assembly recently.
The Sectoral Determination is a relevant reinforcement of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA). The key concern of this Sectoral Determination is to balance the improvement of the livelihood of domestic workers with both retention of existing jobs and the creation of new employment opportunities.
The minimum wages are not only affordable, but realistic; different wages are prescribed depending on where domestic workers live and the number of hours they work. The rate of salaries will vary between R418,22 for employees who work 27 hours or less in a week and R800 per month for employees who work 45 hours in a week. The relationship between the employer and employees is about means of production and power relations, because of the above mentioned background , our fathers and mothers were reduced to workers begging for food and work after everything they had was dispossessed.
Workers in general are those people who sell their labour for payment. The classification of workers is based on the value attached to their labour. The value of domestic labour is classified as less important. This is a failure to recognise the importance of their contribution.
There are other laws that improve the conditions of domestic workers. Section 23 of the constitution states that ” everyone has a right to fair labour practises” and furthermore that ” Every worker has the right to form and join a trade union”. In addition S 85 states that every one has a right not to be unfairly dismissed.
Considerable evidence exists in the cycle of debt together with high interest rates directed to the employer. This system obliterates the distinction between payment in kind and benefits. Most domestic workers are not entitled to annual leave.
The need for a minimum wage and basic minimum conditions of employment is inevitable. Minimum standards will offer guarantees and reduce inequalities. The primary goal of a minimum wage should be to address the inequalities within the sector and improve the situation of the worst off or most vulnerable. To this end the minimum has to be accompanied by improved enforcement of basic conditions of employment, ensuring that domestic and other vulnerable workers are covered by the Unemployment Insurance Fund.
Part of the central theme of our struggle has always been the distinct and integrated drive towards women`s emancipation. The passing of legislation enforcing a minimum wage for domestic workers was a step nearer to achieving a truly non-sexist South Africa.
The effects of apartheid are more evident in rural areas where employers run amok, abusing workers and women in particular. This is why our movement continues its clarion call among women to join the ANC and Women`s League. We shall continue fighting for the liberation of all our people until they are totally free from any form of oppression and discrimination.
Women comprise more than 52% of our population and the majority live in rural areas and many are unemployed. They are struggling to make ends meet as breadwinners in many households under very poor conditions. Our vision, clearly encapsulated in the National Gender Policy Framework, is based on the belief that our nation can never be free until all women are liberated. It is for this reason that the empowerment of women runs through most of our policies. The ANC will also continue ensuring the participation of women in all spheres of society in its ongoing struggle to transform society and rid South Africa of all ills caused by centuries of apartheid rule.