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Media Centre  |  COSATU Speeches

Speech delivered by COSATU President, Cde Sdumo Dlamini at the COSATU Gauteng Provincial Congress held at Ellis Park Indoor Arena, Johannesburg on the 4th August 2015

4 August 2015

The Provincial Chairperson
The entire leadership of the COSATU leadership in Gauteng from all levels of the organisation
Alliance leadership present here today
Invited guests
Delegates from across the length and breadth of this rich province
This is a province which is the economic and industrial hub of South Africa, contributing more than R1-trillion to the national economy.
It is you comrades, who make this province to contribute 36% to the country`s GDP, and 10% of Africa`s GDP.
It is your work comrades which makes this province biggest contributor to national employment.
Please accept warm and revolutionary greetings from your fighting federation COSATU
Comrades we meet in this Provincial Congress after a successful Alliance Summit in which as the movement under the leadership of the ANC, we entered into a process of purging ourselves as part of a process to reposition the alliance to lead the struggle for a more radical phase of our transition.

We came to a conclusion that unless we act against all the alien cultures which have come to define our organisations, radical transformation will remain a pipe dream.
We are also meeting here after a very successful SACP Special National Congress from which we can conclude without any fear of contradiction that the SACP remains one of the most relatively stable and ideologically coherent formation amongst the alliance partners.

This provincial Congress also follows from a historic Special National Congress of COSATU in which workers rose up and voted on their feet that their organisation cannot be stolen whilst they are awake.

As COSATU, we are now moving forward to build unity of the federation on the ground through activities which takes us closer to the members and position us to heighten our battle against employers and white monopoly capital which is our primary enemy.
Whilst we remain aware about the plans of those who have declared themselves as our enemies but we will not waste our resources on them.

We will defeat them through our focus in building our organisation on the ground. When they call for a march against corruption we must remind them that they themselves are fugitives who ran away from answering to charges of corruption.
When they position themselves as super revolutionaries we should remind them that there is no revolutionary who does not respect the rights of women and the constitution of his own organisation.

Workers must now be told the truth to expose the lie which has been kept from the public for many years.
Comrades, this congress is also taking place at a time when as an organisation we have been disturbed by the continued painful reality in which our police men and women are being killed like flies.

It is unacceptable that this year alone 53 police have been killed.
As a country, we will have to make a choice between the life of criminals who continues to haunt our communities and the life of police men and women who have dedicated themselves to protect us from the merciless and satanic criminals who will not hesitate to rape and kill in pursuance of their greedy desire to own a luxurious living without earning it through hard work.

As a country, we will have to make a choice between the life of police men and women and that of criminals.. Police are human beings too. Like all of us they have families too. Like all of us the feel the pain. Enough is enough!
Comrades ,we have reached a point where our federation is moving out of the dark valley of divisions into the bright light of unity where comrades holds hands against our real class enemy.
The process of building unity in COSATU will not happen on its own.

It will require cadres who understand that in the current period our urgent and our primary task is to move COSATU forward and away from the situation in which it was dominantly being defined by the word “divisions” to a situation where our organisation will be defined by its campaigns in the workplaces and in all strategic centres of the economy.
This will include spending time to understand clearly the forces ranging against us and to be equally clear about who is on our side. In other word we must balance class consciousness (which is knowing who we are as a class to be aligned with our class analysis ( which is knowing who else is on our side).

In this regard it is important to appreciate that the world is currently going through what comrade Lenin defined as the fundamental features of Imperialism.
This imperialist character which is dominant in the current conjuncture has been manifested in both how the economic crisis came to being and has also been exposed by the manner in which the epicentres of capitalism have responded to the economic crisis.

Their response to the crisis has been to work with various nation states’ institutions and the media to narrow the space of allowing for any possibility to question the fallacious ideological bases of capitalism.

This has been coupled with using the international capitalist institutions such as the G7 /8 including the, the IMF, the World Bank even the United Nations and Nation states economic institutions and research institutions to create policy space which would allow for the development of a policy package that would allow capital to shift the burden and costs of the economic crisis onto the shoulders of the working people as far as possible.

This systematically coordinated response has been seen in the content of the rescue policies which were aimed at defending the interests of financial capital by protecting bondholders and other lenders, promoting the interests of industrial capital and creating space for continued exploitation by crushing labour costs.

Even these rescue policies have been skewed to favour the balance of forces on the side of imperialism. For an example no money was to be found for bailing out the peoples of Greece, Cyprus, Portugal or Ireland but plenty for bailing out the banks and global finance houses.

The glaring defining features of the economic crisis which continues to characterize economies all over the world reveals the intensification of the centralization and concentration of capital and wealth; the financialisation of the economy; the systematic attack on the social functions of the State achieved through working class struggles ;the commercialization of all spheres of social life, in a logic of privatizing all that can bring higher returns to capital; the attacks on international law and sovereignty of the States and the centralization of political power and its submission to economic power and to the strategies of militarization of international relations.

The exploitation of working men and women worsens and intensifies all over the world, being clearly marked by a denial of rights and the abuse of its workforce in return of increasingly lower wages.

The central axes of this offensive include cuts in real wages; reduction of social protection benefits; intensification of work periods; deregulation and increase in working hours; deregulation of labour relations; widespread casual labour, particularly among the women and young workers; overexploitation of migrant workers.
This also include appropriation of labour productivity gains by capital; increase in the retirement age; cuts in pensions and retirement benefits ;Increase in unemployment rates; Regression of social and labour rights; the denial of the right to bargain collectively and to strike.

This offensive is also expressed in the attack on class-oriented trade unionism and collective bargaining, that seeks to divide and rule, that increases the cleavage between public and private workers that deepens discrimination and division of occupations and fosters individual labour relations, to break the solidarity among the working class and weaken the unions.

This has been compounded by the re-emergence of conservative centre right wing parties in Europe and many of them now have access to state power despite the international economic crisis. Formerly secure left parliamentary seats in the European Parliament have been taken over by the conservatives.

The intensification of this offensive has also exploited the militancy seen in the Northern African Arab countries, leading to the collapse of the Tunisian and Egyptian governments. Other governments in Jordan, Yemen, Morocco, Libya and Algeria experienced popular democratic upsurge.

Developments since these popular militant uprisings makes it difficult not to conclude that they were propelled and led by the imperialists or in the absence of leadership by the left or with left forces joining late to provide leadership these popular struggles got hijacked by the imperialist’s forces.

The strategy employed by the Imperialism has an agenda which intersects and reinforces the agenda of the extreme right wing or create a fertile ground for the extreme right wing’s agenda to intensify.
It also includes use of wars and exploiting popular uprisings to advance an Imperialist agenda to weaken the emerging counter hegemonic blocks. In this regard we have seen the intensification of dangerous military interventions being taken in pursuit of economic and geo-political interest;
The potential of reversing the political gains in the Latin America for example the development and regrouping of the right wing in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, in many other progressive Latin American countries.

As part of the multi pronged strategy to eliminate its increasingly deepening crisis and where imperialism fails to use its other methods such as imposing it’s economic policy package , it imposes imperialist wars, or spreads regional wars, or intensifies the level of exploitation in the semi-colonies.
The imperialist also apply regime change in such countries such as Ukraine and Thailand. This is a form of action designed to make it impossible for the existing government to govern.
We have seen this organized chaos and endless disruption in various other countries.
Well organized groups are financed and equipped by outside western interests. Ultra-nationalists and mercenaries take hold of the protesting crowds and set the direction and pace of action, secure in the knowledge that they have the global reach of the western powers at their backs.

This is part of an advance of the long-held NATO strategy of decolonizing Eastern Europe, fragmenting and breaking up federal states, such as Russia and Yugoslavia, and, most importantly, isolating and marginalizing Russia.
This is also part of what is currently happening in Venezuela where funding was given to groups and initiatives that work in media and run the campaign to discredit the government of President Maduro.

This is how imperialism implements its strategy of destabilization, subversion, and arming reactionaries, with compliant media spreading their version of events. This is the same strategy being applied in Syria, Venezuela and certain countries in Africa and that was applied in Libya to such horrendous effect.

It is when we fully appreciate these developments that we can also be in a position to analyze and understand developments and challenges in our own country and within COSATU itself.

In the South African context these maneuvers manifest in the form of an offensive against the liberation movement which comes from all sides including from the institutions meant to protect democracy and to protect the gains of our democratic breakthrough.

We have seen how our hard won advances secured since the democratic breakthrough continues to face threats from our own judiciary which zigzags from making progressive rulings which asserts the new democratic dispensation and making rulings which clearly protects apartheid privileges and in many cases constituting judicial overreach and undermining the doctrine of the separation of powers.
The result of this has been to undermine the majority rule and to impose setbacks on development which favour the majority of South Africans the majority of whom is the working class.

As COSATU, we want to reiterate that whilst accepting the principle of the independence of the judiciary, we however reject efforts to hide behind this principle to block transformation or fair criticism of judgements.
We want an increase access to justice for all sectors of society, promoting a culture of judicial accountability. We are calling for the reorganisation of the court system to better reflect changes in the country’s provincial and demographic make-up.
We call for the appointment of judges who identify with and are dedicated to advancing the socio-economic rights of the working class and who pay allegiance to the new constitutional order.

We call for an open debate in society on the transformation of the judiciary and the legal profession, transformation of the judiciary must include, but not limited to, achieving racial and gender parity, changing attitudes towards the aspirations and needs of the working class and the poor; progressive gender perspective; change in the language of the courts; access to and the administration of justice, and building a prosperous non-racial non-sexist and democratic South Africa that would not tolerate inequalities inherited from apartheid capitalism.

We have also been recently been observing with interest how our country’s public protector has been positioned as a role player in a political scene which is being shaped against the liberation forces.
It is becoming difficult not to associate the conduct of the public protector with the campaign ran by the opposition in parliament which is aimed at replacing the majority rule as part of the campaign to delegitimize the popular democratic government.

As COSATU, we will always support activities aimed at keeping our public representatives accountable but we will not support using that to undermine our democracy.
Those who have won an election must be allowed to govern based on majority rule!

We have noted the press statement by the public protector and we would like to reiterate some of the things we said regarding the Public Protector’s report in a statement issued on the 27th March 2014.

Amongst the said in this statement, was that the federation`s view is consistent with our long-standing campaign against corruption and the waste and mismanagement of public funds and for strong action to be taken against anyone found to have been involved in such conduct.

COSATU remains committed to fighting against corruption but in a principled manner.

We said that the Public Protector’s report follows other similar reports from the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence (JSCI) which included members from other political parties, and the inter-ministerial task team (IMTT) and that no one report should be regarded as the incontrovertible truth.

We said that these investigations shows that President Zuma did give instructions to conduct various investigations, leading to the JSCI, the IMTT`s investigations and further investigations to be conducted by the Auditor General.

There was no political interference.

The President did not ask or instruct anyone to do security upgrades. There is no evidence that the Presidency requested the SAPS and State Security Services to consider securing his private residence, the trigger mechanism stipulated in paragraph 8.1.2(b) (i) of the Cabinet Policy of 2003. The `benefits` to the President were improvements to the property; no taxpayers` money was paid directly to the President, as some media reports suggest, and the PP report itself makes no such suggestion.

We said that the President did not have to pay for anything outside the costs of his homestead and he should never have been asked to pay for anything which relates to security upgrades because he did not ask for it in the first place. The state acted on its obligation.
We called for the publication of all the names of all the service providers, including the names of all their directors and shareholders.
In particular we want to investigate whether there was any corrupt collusion with public officials, or officials using their own companies, in the inflation of prices for the work done.

We also said that as COSATU we totally reject the call by the DA and other opposition parties for the impeachment of President Zuma and their plans to lay charges in court. These parties are blatantly using the issue to revive their flagging election campaigns and finding ways to keep themselves on the media headlines.

No citizen, including the president of the country can be found guilty through sustained media attacks based on misinformation and biased analysis, designed to plant a seed of doubt in the minds of people about both the President and the ANC, as we have seen the media doing on the Nkandla report.
We also noted with concern that the report of the JSCI also revealed that it met numerous times to deliberate on the Nkandla report.

At a committee meeting on 28 August 2013 two DA members withdrew from the meeting, giving the reason that they were instructed by their parliamentary leader to do so.
In such a sensitive committee there is a rule that no member may obey a manifestly illegal order and that neither the security services, nor any of their members, may, in the performance of their functions: (a) prejudice a political party interest that is legitimate in terms of the Constitution; or (b) further, in a partisan manner, any interest of a political party.

The rules state that no person shall disclose any intelligence, information or document, the publication of which is restricted by law, and which is obtained by that person in the performance of his or her functions.
We continue to make a call that the conduct of these members should be investigated to find out whether the instruction from their parliamentary leader did not violate the rules. No member must disclose any intelligence, information or document, the publication of which is restricted by law, and which is obtained by that person in the performance of his or her functions. The JSCI clearly found that the instruction by the DA parliamentary leader constituted political interference.

It is interesting to note that media reports say nothing about the conduct of the DA members. Neither does the media say anything about the fact that the upgrades were divided into two focus areas, viz: (a) the state owned land covering 5.1598 hectors and (b) the property of the president covering 3.832 hectors. In this regard the state owned property remained in the hands of the state and incorporates the majority of the recommended security features.

We want to repeat that the public protector must not act in a manner which reinforces a perception that she has taken political sides because it is that very posture and no one else which will compromise the standing of her office.

We have also noted with concern the chaos which has come to define our parliament.

It is not a coincident that the strategy to attack COSATU through use of the media and working in alliance with some civil society formations coincided with the chaos we saw developing in parliament and the continued violent service delivery protests.

The opportunity to use the masses against their revolution is always possible where there is a certain level of discontent which remains unaddressed.

It is this discontent which gets exploited and used to reverse gains secured by the revolution. It is for this reason that we will continue to put pressure on our government to urgently address issues of development affecting our communities.
We note that an environment has been created in which ddemagogic and reactionary politics and maneuvers are gradually winning the day if we do not stand up to expose counter them frontally.

As comrade Samora Matchel once said that “...the other face is that of the indirect and secondary enemy, who presents himself under the cover of a nationalist and even as a revolutionary thus making it difficult to identify him... the fighter must distinguish friend from foe even if the latter is concealed under the same colour, language, family ties or tribal markings as their own, even if he raises his flag with us”.

But what is it that we should do to respond to these threats? Comrade Govern Mbeki gave us an answer when he said “our starting point is to direct our attention and efforts to the source of our strength by saying: `Go to the masses of the oppressed and exploited peoples of our land.
Work among them; work with them to prepare the way for a take-over of power.

`Expressed briefly this is to say: `Go. Organise.`

He continues and says that experience has taught, however, that a lot more requires to be known about organising if the product of our efforts and activities, i.e. organisation, is to be effective. And if the oppressed and exploited are to achieve their end, viz to take over power, they must build effective organisational machinery. And to have such organisational machinery there is no room for haphazard and half-hearted measures. The task has to be tackled seriously and systematically “Delegated to the Special National Congress were responding to this call when they reaffirmed the call for Going Back to Basics.

We are calling on the COSATU Gauteng Province to prepare for a series of activities directed against employers. Our first target will be the Free Market foundation which has taken us to court as part of their offensive to undermine collective bargaining. We need to make life in those offices difficult until the court hearing and beyond.

The Special National Congress instructed that we submit a section 77 on various demands which include demanding that companies should stop retrenchments in all sectors of the economy.
As we speak the mining sector has received many notices from employers indicating their intention to retrench.
We will not accept these retrenchments without a fight.
We are already consulting with the NUM and other unions on the most appropriate action to take.

In our Section 77 Notice we will be demanding for reliable , affordable safe and accessible public transport and the scrapping of e-tolls, demanding the introduction of redistributive tax which include increasing tax for the super rich, demand implementation of the NHI without any delays , demand total ban of labour brokers , focus on the weaknesses of our state owned enterprises.
If all this fails we should prepare for show down and start working towards the National Day of Action on the 7th October this year focusing on our demands.

In everything we do, we should always bear it in our minds that we have a responsibility to defend our revolutionary gains.

We wish this congress all the success.