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Nomvula Hadi is a vibrant trade union activist who is Deputy President of the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU), CUPE’s sister union. Committed to grassroots activism Comrade Hadi is passionate about cementing the linkages between her union and social and community movements.

Speaking to the CUPE delegates the Global Justice forum during CUPE’s 24th national convention, Comrade Hadi brought a strong message: racial Apartheid may be dead politically, but economic Apartheid remains a reality in South Africa, as the country remains one of the most unequal in the world.

Too many workers, most of whom are women, are forced to compete for jobs that offer low wages and no job security. Contracting out is a serious issue that SAMWU is confronting with an extensive campaign whose goal is to bring marginalized workers into the union and to help them secure better wages and working conditions.

Another issue that highlights the reality of economic apartheid is the pre-paid water meter. Introduced in townships and “ghetto” areas these meters force poor people to pay a much higher price per litre of water than those from the affluent suburbs who had their water piped in.

Just last year, SAMWU was congratulated by South Africa’s Coalition Against Water Privatization for its principled opposition to pre-paid water meters. SAMWU actively supported community groups in demanding their right to water and on April 30, 2008 was able to celebrate the decision by the Johannesburg High Court that declared pre-paid water meters unconstitutional. The court judged that pre-paid meters denied poor communities the right to adequate and affordable water.

While at Convention, October 8, Comrade Hadi received the news that South Africa’s highest court, the Constitutional Court, had reversed the decision of the High Court. The installation of the hated pre-paid meters was found to be ‘lawful’

In expressing their disgust the Anti-Privatization Forum of South Africa had this to say, “The Court had a historic opportunity to give meaningful, lived content to the right to water, to strike a constitutional blow for the poor in their struggle to fully enjoy the most basic of all human needs. It is to their and our country’s discredit that they have miserably failed.”