Justice for ALL
CONSOLIDATING WORKING CLASS POWER WITHIN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
POPCRU national march making headline news
The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union [POPCRU] is a trade union organisation in South Africa operating within the South African Police Service [SAPS], the Department of Correctional Services [DCS] and the Traffic component. POPCRU represents more than hundred and fifty thousand [150 000] Police, Corrections and Traffic Officials. This gigantic movement was established on the 5th November 1989 at the height of the liberation struggle within the country. Prior to the establishment of POPCRU, institutional racism was entrenched within the Public Service and the three departments where we operate were the implementer of such atrocious practices
CENTRAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE DECLARATION
We, the delegates of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union’s (hereafter POPCRU) Central Executive Committee convened at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre in Boksburg, Gauteng, from the 27th to the 30th of November 2022 under the theme “33 years of Working-Class Consciousness, Defending Workers Rights and Building a Self-Sustainable Union”. This august occasion brought together the leadership of POPCRU from all structures, representing approximately 148 000 members organized within the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), Traffic Department and other Agencies of the Department of Transport.
We convened over the three days to take stock of the work of the organization since the previous CEC convened in September 2021 and to also provide a broader direction covering organizational, political, international, social transformation and socio-economic, including policy and constitutional matters within the union and our society at large. This important sitting also made a pledge against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), femicide and harassment; this is another form of pandemic confronting our society, mainly women and children. This CEC also provided us with an opportunity to engage on matters that affect us as workers and further charted a way forward in ensuring that good relations are forged with all the Departments that we organize in. We are fully aware of all current challenges within these Departments, but we will never be discouraged by such, we will continue building healthy relations with the prime aim of ensuring that a POPCRU member indeed remains a priority and their interests are always rightfully represented. This CEC provided the necessary measures as a sign of a democratic culture within the organization, thereby building unity and cohesion; we therefore fulfilled our constitutional mandate in the interest of the organization and its members.
We remain inspired by some of our fallen stalwarts in the recent past in the mould of Yasmin “Jessie” Duarte, Mphakanyane Ishmael Mathobela, Don Matera, Amos Mbedzi, Rita Alice Ndzanga who, in their own individual way, symbolised the people`s quest for justice for all. These stalwarts led the way, fought hard battles and portrayed the revolutionary spirit of selflessness. We also paid tribute to the fallen heroes and heroines within the Criminal Justice Cluster, Health Care professionals and other frontline workers who perished due to Covid-19 related illnesses; including the majority of our people who lost their lives due to Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
This Central Executive Committee was honoured by the address from the CEO of the RTMC, Steven Podile; the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, Fannie Masemola; the National Commissioner of the Department of Correctional Services, Samuel Thobakgale; the General Secretary of the South African Communist Party, Comrade Solly Mapaila; the 1st Deputy President of COSATU, Mike Shingange; the President of WFTU, Mike Makwayiba; the CEO of Safer South Africa Foundation, Mme Riah Phiyega, Mr. Sean Potgieter from the Business School of Netherlands, and the Group CEO of our business arm – Workerslife, Mr. Jaco Mostert. We were also graced with messages of support from our international allies; the Royal Eswatini Police Association, (REPOSA); Zambia Union of Government and Allied Workers (UG); Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU); Kenya Union of Judiciary Workers and the Cuban Embassy. We also appreciate the presence of Medscheme and representatives from various Bargaining Councils.
We recognise the critical moment at which this CEC was convened in the context of the worsening crises of capitalism, demonstrated by high rate of unemployment, poverty and inequalities, with diverse effects on the workers and the community at large. This CEC thus reaffirms the perspective of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) as an intertwined struggle on our cause for socialism. We remain resolute in our commitment to the NDR as a struggle to advance the resolution of the intersecting class, race and gender contradictions embedded in our society, which are the legacy of the triple forms of oppression that the majority of our people suffered under Colonialism of a Special Type (CST).
We acknowledge that this CEC is taking place a few weeks before the 55th national conference of the ANC. We are further conscious of the challenges faced by the ruling party, both internally and externally. We also note the negative tendencies such as factionalism, corruption and reformist policy approaches overwhelming the revolutionary spirit of renewal and unity. We further note that unity and renewal process cannot be a success without the radical reconfiguration of the alliance, the renouncing of neo-liberalism, and dismantling of state capture in all its manifestation. This CEC also re-affirm that a reconfigured alliance will serve as a reliable structure with a great potential of advancing the NDR and to mobilise the entire society towards the attainment of the National Democratic Revolution [NDR] and classless society. We reiterate that the Unity of the ANC, SACP and COSATU is sacrosanct and that the SACP is still relevant and remains the only vanguard of the working-class and the poor.
This CEC expressed that our members work under very difficult conditions imposed by the austerity measures of a neo-liberal economy; including the continuous attacks on collective bargaining which exacerbate our members living conditions. We cannot sit back and be bystanders while the employer is reversing our hard-earned gains; we shall remain resolute on our struggle against austerity measures as well as reneging from signed collective agreements. We therefore reaffirm the resolution on the implementation of all signed collective agreements within the PSCBC. Most importantly, we must root out corruption, improve service delivery and build a better society. We reiterate our resolve to be part of a broader movement to pull all like-minded forces together to pull society out of the crises and build an activist-based society that has the capacity to hold the leadership accountable.
As an internationalist union, there have been a lot of solidarity campaigns that we have been involved in. Important among these are our solidarity activities with the people of Cuba, Venezuela, Palestine, Swaziland and all struggling people of the world. POPCRU remains committed to playing a key role in international working-class solidarity; it is within this context that we collectively dedicate our efforts to defend the interests and aspirations of the working class. Moreover, this CEC expressed a grave concern on the security situation in our neighbouring country, Mozambique, and further believe that SADC must take full responsibility to assist than wait for colonialist to lead the way.
The CEC took time to extensively debate the organisational matters, including leadership issues with a clear purpose of strengthening the union and build true unity and cohesion. In terms of constitutional mandate, the position of the 2nd Deputy President was duly filled. The audited finances of the organisation for the period under review were presented and adopted by this CEC. This CEC expressed its appreciation that the organisation is in good financial state to fulfil its obligations.
We therefore align this declaration to the vigorous deliberations ensued in various commissions, and finalized at plenary. We remain steadfast that these deliberations and proposed interventions are our greatest strengths as we move towards our 10th national congress and the celebration of 34 years of existence. We therefore resolve and declare to:
• Intensify a programme of action emanating from our national march of the 20th September 2022,
• Reaffirm the reconfiguration of the Criminal Justice Cluster under one Ministry to ensure synergy and collaborative effort on the fight against crime,
• Robustly engage the government to immediately stop austerity measures to ensure sufficient capacity through filling of all funded posts within the public service,
• Embark on a programme aimed at stopping the GEPF from introducing measures which will have adverse effects on members’ pension funds,
• Implement awareness programmes (roadshows) to sensitise members about new legislative developments on pension funds,
• Extensively engage the management of the SAPS to urgently intervene on the backlog on the matters at the SSSBC,
• Resuscitate the task team that was established at the PSCBC to deal with the professionalisation of the public service,
• Facilitate, through relevant platforms, the process of establishing a single collective bargaining council for all components of the CJC,
• Reaffirm the amendment of the current legislation to classify killing of law enforcement officers as treason,
• Ensure speedy finalisation of all outstanding matters in collective bargaining councils and related platforms (Private Prisons, Border Management Agency),
• Reaffirm the convening of a Policing Indaba as this is of paramount importance to streamline and reshape the Criminal Justice Cluster,
• Continue to embark on extensive recruitment and retention programmes to ensure organisational growth and sustainability,
• Endorse all recommendations on policy and constitutional amendments that emanated from the Policy and Collective Bargaining conference,
• We declare that the political commission report be differed for further engagements at the level of the NEC,
• POPCRU members should be mobilised to join the SACP in majority.