A major South African trade union threatened on Friday to withdraw support for the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in the 2019 general elections if the party cannot stop job losses.
“Once again, we want to put it unequivocally clear that we will find it very difficult to support the ANC in next year general elections if it continues to fold its arms while job losses continues unabated,” the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) said.
The union was responding to the confirmation by Deputy President David Mabuza that the public service will be scaled down as part of cost-cutting measures.
Answering questions in Parliament on Thursday, Mabuza said massive job cuts in the public service were impending as the government was trying to reduce the wage bill.
Currently South Africa has about 1.4 million public servants servicing a population of 52 million people.
The lack of adequate personnel in the public service has resulted in service delivery being adversely affected especially in health and education, according to NEHAWU.
“As NEHAWU, we forthright reject any reconfiguration of government that will result in a job bloodbath,” NEHAWU General Secretary Zola Saphetha said.
The national union will immediately start the process of mobilization in the public service and society at large in preparation for a big fight against austerity measures and retrenchments, said Saphetha.
If the ANC is serious about retaining power then it must not gamble with workers jobs, he said.
Workers have been consistently voting for the ANC since 1994, but this can change if the party does not take seriously the issue of job security, Saphetha said.
The 2019 general elections are expected to be the most contentious for the ANC since 1994 when apartheid was brought to an end. The party’s support base among the working class has been eroded mainly due to rampant corruption and high unemployment hovering above 27 percent.
In the 2016 local elections, the ANC lost control of some major cities like Johannesburg, Pretoria and Nelson Mandela Bay for the first time since 1994.