COSATU and PASSOP are extremely disappointed by the DA’s allegations that the ANC and Minister Tina Joematt-Pettersson are fueling violence in De Doorns.
We are extremely disappointed by the unfounded and misguided allegations that the ANC or the Minister of Agriculture has in any way supported violence during any strike action. We also rubbish claims by the DA that humanitarian aid by either the ANC or Minister of Agriculture was donated to leaders of any organization and any suggestion that the aid was distributed to organizations. We also want to set the record straight on the following points:
– The Department of Agriculture was approached by PASSOP privately due to concerns over the extreme poverty and humanitarian crisis experienced by the rural community of De Doorns, which depends entirely on income from the agricultural sector.
– PASSOP also made a general public appeal for assistance for those in this impoverished community for a number of reasons, including unemployment, low wages, and interruption of income because of a high number of dismissals, labour disputes, and resulting strike actions.
– The Department of Agriculture provided much needed humanitarian assistance that was intended to alleviate the humanitarian crisis and create an environment where level headed negotiations would be more viable between employees and employers in the agricultural sector.
-Regarding the strike action that occurred in November 2012: several DA politicians blamed intimidation as the reason many workers did not work. We are, therefore, confused that the DA publicly opposes the distribution of humanitarian aid to a community that they claim had been intimidated into not working, resulting in lost income and adding to an already dire situation in the community.
– No aid from the Department of Agriculture was given to any individual leader or organization for distribution.
– Aid from the Department of Agriculture was distributed by a contracted logistics company which enlisted the support of community-based volunteers, both unionized and non-unionized, and also included some members of immigrant communities.
– The aid was distributed to the entire community regardless of whether they had participated in the strikes or not.
– We want to clarify that it is our understanding that neither the ANC nor Minister Joemat-Pettersson called for perpetrators of violence or crime to be released but rather appealed for those arrested for participating in an unlawful gathering to be released in an effort to create an environment where negotiations between striking workers and employers would be more viable
– It is widely acknowledged that minister Joemat-Pettersson played an essential role in negotiating a suspension of the strike action in the De Doorns area after strike action had put the season’s harvest at great risk.
If there is any tangible evidence of abuse by any organization or individuals involved in voluntarily distributing aid under the watch of the logistics company, then we encourage the DA to present evidence of the abuse to the department for further investigations. We cannot rule out the possibility of abuse during the process of distribution but we believe that blaming the Minister of Agriculture is cheap politicking and allegations against the ANC are unfounded. How can the DA accuse the ANC of supporting violence after recent statements and comments condemning violence made by the chairperson of the ANC in the Western Cape, Marius Fransman?
While the strike by workers in De Doorns is non-political and the distribution of aid donated by a national government department was non-political, the DA seems determined to discredit the striking workers. We call upon the DA to stop creating controversy around the humanitarian and food security plight of farm workers.
For comment contact Mike Louw, COSATU, on 0824947935 or Braam Hanekom, PASSOP, on 0843191764