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Media Centre  |  COSATU Speeches

COSATU President speech at the 2016 ANC's 104th Anniversary Rally

9 January 2016

The president of the ANC comrade Jacob Zuma and the entire NEC of the ANC
The leadership of the SACP led by its General Secretary comrade Blade Nzimande
The leadership of SANCO led by its president comrade Richard Mdakane
The leadership of the Alliance at all levels
The membership of all Alliance formations
Invited guests

Comrades, activists, cadres and members of our movement who have come to fill this stadium to celebrate 104 years of ANC's existence,

Please accept revolutionary greetings from your giant and fighting federation COSATU

Allow me to paraphrase comrade Oliver Tambo that as COSATU we speak" here today, not so much as a guest invited to address a foreign organisation. But we speak of and to our own".

It is a matter of undeniable historical fact that we have shared the trenches with the ANC in the struggle for liberation in South Africa.

It is a matter of historical fact that many trade unionist both from our predecessor organisation SACTU and currently served and continue to serve in the ANC structures in their own right as members and activists in the of the ANC.

The political life of our organisations is inseparable. It is for this reason that we can say without any ambiguity or fear of contradiction that the ANC's enemies are also our enemies , your heroes are ours too, the ANC's achievements are also our achievements , your victories, are also our victories . Your challenges are also our challenges.

There is a special form of organisational cross pollination between our organisations which none amongst us can avoid. We have built each one of our organisations together.

As COSATU we help and continue to help build and strengthen the ANC. The ANC built and continue to contribute in building COSATU.
The strengths and the weaknesses in each of our organisations are mirrored and manifest in each of our formations.

The stability in the ANC means the stability of COSATU; the Unity of the ANC also means the unity of the federation. When there are divisions in the ANC ,we are also likely to be affected by such divisions.

As COSATU we have come here today to call for unity inside the ranks of the ANC and amongst the Alliance formations. We must re learn and master the art of listening to each other. Independent as we may be as organisations but our struggle is one. Our separate voices are weaker compared to our united voice. None of us are stronger as individuals. Our strength is in our unity and that can only be expressed through practical programmes on the ground.

History has shown that every time there are divisions in our ranks, the enemy gains confidence and increases its attack against us and against our people.

History will show that all the attacks launched by the enemy against the liberation movement were executed, when the enemy was convinced that they have infiltrated us and has created enough mistrust and divisions.

Every time when these attacks were made, we knew that it was the responsibility of the enemy and yet we pointed at each other and accused each other.

It is not a mistake that at the height of divisions and challenges within our movements, there has been a series of racist attacks directed at our people. The very racist attacks follow from a series of attacks which have been directed at our leaders. These racists' attacks follows from a march calling for the removal of ANC president .It follows from calls on the removal of the SACP General Secretary as a minister. These racists' attacks follows from public spats by some within our formations and within our ranks directed at each other's leadership.

Attacks against each other must stop. The racists' attacks we see are a sign that the enemy is gaining confidence in the face of our own divisions. It is time to unite against the common racist enemies!

The 104 years of ANC's existence means that we know the enemy tricks, we know how the enemy operates and we know how to respond to the enemy as a united force. When we respond as a united force, the blow we can land on the enemy is a deadly blow.

The 104 years of the ANC means remaining firm and unshaken to advance the principle of no racialism and unity amongst our people.

It is a reminder that even when the colonial and apartheid regime unleashed the worst forms of racist brutality, against Blacks in general and Africans in particular we never chose an unprincipled short cut of fighting a racial war against white people. Even today we must remain firm that racists must be exposed and defeated and if needs be removed root, stem and branch from our society.

The best way of responding against racism is to intensify the struggle for the transfer of the economy of our country from the hands of white minority to the people as a whole. The racist arrogance we see today, where our people are being insulted day in and day out is being peddled and prepared right inside the boardrooms of the DA whose core policy is to defend and advance white privileges by all means and at all costs.

The current leader of the DA who happened to be black is nothing but a parrot used to repeat and sing DA's racist policies. All what the racists needs to say to him is repeat after me and he willingly and energetically does so without question.

Racists like Penny Sparrow and Chris Hart must be arrested and charged.

Perhaps if others have forgotten let us remind you that on 28 May 2014, the Eye Witness News (EWN) published a cartoon on its website that contain racial undertones and insults - depicting ANC voters in 'black' as "clowns" and "poephols".

On 30 May 2014, The Star Online edition published a story, titled "SA voters like abused spouses - Thuli", in which the Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela characterizes ANC voters as "abused spouses"

On 3 June 2014, Democratic Alliance Deputy Chief Whip, Hon. Michael Waters, circulated a racially offensive picture on Twitter, which depict ANC voters as dogs lining up to vote for the party - represented by a poster of President Jacob Zuma

These recent racial insults invoked painful memories, reminding us of many other similar experiences in the past. We could not help but recall that in 2009 in Sun City President Mandela was called a kaffir ; In the same period the name of Mandela Drive was replaced with that of the racist killer Clive Derby Lewis, who killed our liberation leader comrade Chris Hani.

As workers we have been reminded of the Pick & Pay manager at Canal Walk shopping mall ,who had made his routine to refer to workers as baboons and monkeys and has even on occasion locked a worker up in a cage in the store for a petty issue ; we could not help but be reminded of a white farmer who killed a Zimbabwean farm worker Jealous Dube, whom he said he had mistaken for a baboon.

As workers we can recall that in 2008, an 18 year old black youth was put into a fridge and subsequently disabled. We have painful memories of how dogs were set against an African black domestic worker at Moedvell, which injured her severely. Three young farm workers were electrocuted in their private parts.

As if all this was not enough ,we had the DA calling our people refugees in their own country and just when we thought that the project of reconstructing South Africa was on track we woke up to a nightmare of Peter Mulder who, like his ancestors, told all of us that "Africans in particular never in the past lived in the whole of South Africa.

The Bantu-speaking people moved from the equator down while the white people moved from the Cape up to meet each other at the Kei River.

He argued that there was sufficient proof that there were no Bantu-speaking people in the Western Cape and North-western Cape. These parts form 40% of South Africa's land surface".

It is as if only one group of the South African population has a responsibility to defend the dream of a Non -racialism in South Africa and if it so then those who hold this dream dearly should stand up and openly crush the demon of racism in its interconnectedness to economic exploitation .

These continued racist insults are a reminder of how during the period of the Truth and Reconciliation and the negotiation period leading to the 1994 elections ;the oppressed were expected to forgive and forget ,whilst those who benefited in economic terms from racial oppression and exploitation remained in their position of economic power placing them at an advantage as the real ruling class above those in political office.

These insults are a reminder how we agreed to a number of qualitative compromises in order to achieve a smooth transition which was devoid of economic freedom for our people.

We are being reminded that actually at the centre of the reasons ,which led to the ANC being questioned by many even within its ranks ,were the compromises it made in negotiations so that there could be racial harmonious co-existence,
peace and stability for the benefit of all.

Racism in our country as we have experienced it has its economic basis and it is therefore important that we avoid making a mistake of fighting it without paying attention to the underlying economic interests upon which it is predicated.

This must be a reminder to all of us that the struggle for freedom is not over. The fight for economic freedom is a fight we cannot compromise. It is a battle we must win and is the only way to make advances as part of our fight against racism.

We do not have the luxury to fight against each other. Let us unite, close ranks and make the 104th Anniversary of the ANC to mark a renewed energy to mobilise our people and intensify the struggle for economic transformation