The Congress of South African Trade Union (Cosatu) has declared its disappointment over President Zuma‘s signing of the tax legislation from 2015 into law.
The group which is an ally of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party said that it was obvious that the state “had appropriated too much power to itself and … does not believe that it is beholden to the people anymore”
Speaking through its spokesperson Sizwe Pamla, the group said that the president’s approval of the 2015 Tax Laws Amendment Act and the Tax Administration Law Amendment Acts meant that all retirement reforms related to tax harmonization on retirement contributions and benefits will come into effect on 1 March 2016.
Pamla also added that such a decision by the government will have negative effects in the relationship between the South African government: His words reads:
“This is an outrageous and blatant act of provocation by the ANC-led government that will have dire and lasting consequences on the relationship between government and the workers.
This is not just a slight against the federation and the emasculation and undermining of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC)‚ but it is an offense against all working people‚ who have their deferred wages to look forward to after retirement.
This disdainful act of provocation by government will get an appropriate and equal response from the workers.
Workers will fight any attempts to impose the compulsory preservation of our hard-earned deferred wages. We will spare no effort to stop this tyranny; because no government has a right to unilaterally decide for workers‚ how and when to spend their retirement savings.
The workers reject the notion perpetuated by this action that a tiny elite of government bureaucrats and mandarins are better placed to decide and dictate to workers‚ when and how to spend their deferred salaries.
Regardless of the sincerity and noble motives of those‚ who have nationalized the pensions of the workers without their consent‚ they are leading us on a slippery slope of government autocracy”.
The group also agreed not to give in to the government’s greater activity and involvement in the affairs of individual workers.
“We refuse to be coerced into accepting and also find it deeply disturbing to see government using coercion and force to achieve its purpose‚ which is outside of its legitimate functions. This is a barefaced perversion of the system‚ where worker’s undeniable rights are considered to be the dispensation of government. These savings are part of worker’s hard-earned salaries and should be accessible to the workers‚ as and when they need them‚ especially in the absence of a comprehensive social security” they said.
The group also warned the government of possible consequences for its alliance with the ANC‚ stating:
“This is a disturbing sign that our movement is abandoning the people-driven and people-centered approach to development. It is unacceptable that when we ask to be given a comprehensive social security and retirement reform discussion paper‚ which government has failed to deliver for more than ten years‚ we get given the Taxation Laws Amendment Act; and when we take this process to NEDLAC‚ where government is represented by the National Treasury‚ they abandon the engagements to pursue their planned retirement reforms unilaterally.”
“By signing this Act‚ the president has poisoned the relations between the ANC-led government and the workers‚ he further weakened the alliance and has given considerable comfort to our enemies. This will do nothing to disprove the assertions and suppositions that the movement panders to the Left during vote-harvesting periods and delivers to the Right afterwards. This will complicate the campaigning for the upcoming local government elections because workers will also find it hard to be persuaded to vote against their interests”
Cosatu went further to say that the issue would be one of the top list of priorities that would be discussed at the upcoming Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting of the federation next month.
“The CEC will guide the federation on the rolling out of a massive campaign against this nationalization of worker’s pensions‚ as mandated by the 12th National Congress held last year. We demand that both parliament and the president scrap the act and we also reiterate our position that we will never allow this government unilateralism to overrun and erode hard-earned workers rights.” The group said.