SAMWU SONA Expectations

20 June 2019

SAMWU SONA Expectations

For the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU), the State of the Nation Address (SONA) represents one of the important opportunities for the government to address the challenges facing the working class. As SAMWU, we have high expectations that the President will use this opportunity to pronounce solutions to the problems confronting the municipal workers in particular and the working class in general.


We expect the SONA to prioritize the fight against unemployment. Over the last couple of years, the rate of unemployment has been going up. It is now 38%, if we use the expanded definition. In other words, the young people have been consigned to long-term unemployment and the majority of those who are employed are under paid or they could be described as part of the ‘working poor’. Hence, as SAMWU we need to hear from the President in the SONA, how the government will address this rising unemployment. This rising unemployment can’t be resolved by retrenching more workers, either in the public or private sector. The SONA must discourage any form of retrenchment in all sectors of the economy. At the same time, the government must discourage privatization or outsourcing, especially in the local government sector. Both outsourcing and privatization always lead to job losses.


We need to hear how the government is going to reverse the outsourcing of municipal services. The outsourcing in the local government takes different forms. But the rampant forms of outsourcing include the extensive use of Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) in the delivery of municipal service. SAMWU considers EPWP workers as municipal workers because they are delivering the municipal services, but they are subjected to poor condition and low pay. Hence, we regard the EPWP as extremely exploitative in nature and do not address the issue of unemployment, inequality and poverty in the country. For this reason, the EPWP workers must be employed directly and permanently by the municipalities with job security and same benefits as those enjoyed by the municipal workers.

State of municipalities:

The SONA needs to come with a coherent and clear plan that will save struggling municipalities. Over the last couple of years, the number of dysfunctional municipalities has dramatically increased. Only 7 percent of South Africa’s 287 municipalities are functioning well. A total of 87 of them are dysfunctional, in distress, and in need of serious intervention. This explain why some municipalities have been constantly failing to pay salaries on time, while third parties such as medical aid, union subscriptions, pension and funeral policies are never paid. At the same time, the dysfunctional of municipalities largely contribute to the poor service delivery.

Eskom unbundling:

we expect the SONA to reverse all the plans in relation to the unbundling of Eskom. Unbundling is about privatization of electricity. Unbundling serves a privatization agenda by making electricity and its provision a commodity rather than a public service and human right. This privatization without doubt will only benefit the capitalists whose interest is always profit rather than meeting social needs. A recent report on privatization from the UN Special Rapporteur on “Extreme Poverty and Human Rights” is worth quoting at length: “Profit is the over-riding objective, and considerations such as equality and non-discrimination are inevitably sidelined … Rights holders are transformed into clients, [as well as] those who are poor, needy or troubled are marginalized.” The report continues, “Privatization directly undermines the viability of the public sector and redirects government funds to subsidies and tax breaks for corporate actors.” It is for this reason that SAMWU reject unbundling of Eskom.


Workers are tired of seeing their hard-earned taxes being looted by the politicians and business elite. Instead, as SAMWU we want the SONA to promulgate plans and strategies which seek to stop this rampant corruption, but also the SONA must say what is being done to imprison corrupt politicians and business elites. We are worried that to date despite considerable evidence, we have not seen the imprisonment of corrupt politicians and business elites.

Issued by SAMWU Secretariat

Koena Ramotlou
General Secretary
(073 254 9394)


Dumisani Magagula
Deputy General Secretary
(084 806 4005)