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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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  |  COSATU Speeches

Closing Remarks by COSATU President at the COSATU 6th Central Committee, held from 29th May - 1st June 2017

Members of the Central Committee Distinguished guests Comrades

Congratulations to all of you for such a successful Central Committee. On behalf of this leadership collective, we thank you for the level of discipline that you have demonstrated in this meeting.

We salute all of you for the exemplary and dignified way in which you have debated the issues and recommitted the federation to its historic mission.

The last three days have seen robust and frank debates and have also demonstrated for all to see that COSATU is alive and well. Again you have proved that COSATU is the most democratic, representative and dynamic organisation fighting on behalf of the workers and the poor majority in South Africa.

We are the most transparent organisation because; we have nothing to hide from the workers and the people of South Africa.

Our friends in the media have been with us throughout the CC because we want workers to know everything about their federation and to work with us to take this giant federation to new and greater heights.

We do not have to tell people that we are united anymore; we have just proven over the last four days that we are united. We do not have to tell anyone that this federation and its affiliates have regrouped and we have regained our focus and strength but we have proven that since the 12th National Congress and over the last four days

The decisions you have passed here this week have laid the foundation for advancing the interests and aspirations of the oppressed and exploited masses of our country until the 13National Congress next year and beyond.

As you leave here today comrades, you should remember that you have committed to recruiting the approximately 13.72 million workers that don't belong to any trade union in this country. The best way to recruit those workers is to service the ones that are already organised, because actions speak louder than words.

This Central Committee has said that we should invest in building the capacity of shop stewards and organisers. You said we should invest in building the COSATU locals as the basic units of COSATU engines. There is no short cut to this task except the actual visits to the workplaces.

It is time to roll up our sleeves and get on with the business of representing workers and implementing our decisions.

Comrades, COSATU remains committed to worker control and democracy and we are all bound and guided by the principle of Democratic Centralism, where the decisions taken by constitutional structures bind everyone including those who may have held a different view in the course of the debate. Once a senior structure take a decision, all other structures must work to implement the decision. We are a mandate driven federation and when the workers have spoken, we all understand that our responsibility is to implement that mandate.

Our federation has made it very clear that President Jacob Zuma is not the right person to unite and lead the movement, the Alliance and the country and that he must step down.

Now what we need is to all make sure that we act on that decision through the rollout of our anti-state capture campaign.

We also need to act and implement our decision to practically support the ANC Deputy President, Cde Cyril Ramaphosa's campaign to take over as the next president of the ANC in December.

We also condemn the intimidation of our leaders and the targeting of their families by vigilantes. These foreign tendencies should not be allowed in our movement and we as the workers , we have a clear message that we will protect our leaders from such victimisation.

In taking these campaigns forward comrades, we need to go and mobilise our base, talk to our Alliance partners, community organisations, religious organisations, including progressive civil society.

From now onwards COSATU's presence should be felt and our transformative voice should be heard right inside the corridors of political and economic power.

Remember comrades that COSATU exists to represent the dreams and aspirations of the workers and poor majority.

This is why we should fearlessly champion the fight for the introduction of a comprehensive social security system and NHI.

This is also why we should continue to fight the neo-liberal ideology that has captured some elements within the state, inside and outside of our government.

We should continue to be the champions of the people driven and people centred approach to development.

We are clear from this meeting that there will be no talk of Radical Economic Transformation without the redrafting and fundamental overhaul of the core macro-economic and labour chapters of the NDP.

There will be no economic transformation of any nature without the radical transformation of the National Treasury and the Reserve Bank because these institutions still constitute the biggest obstacles to the government's economic programme. They both need to be urgently realigned and given a new mandate.

Developing the content of Radical Economic transformation should be the responsibility of our Alliance comrades, no one individual or no one alliance partner should assume the role of defining the content of Radical Economic Transformation . COSATU is clear that radical economic transformation should be accompanied by serious efforts to change our industrial structure, create employment, and redistribute incomes and assets to the poor. It should also mean the abolition of labour brokers and opening the doors of learning to all our young people, millions of whom are still excluded from higher education by their families' poverty.

For all of this to happen we need an interventionist, activist, socialist-oriented developmental state whose role in the economy is aimed at bringing to the mainstream economy to those, who were isolated from participating in it by the apartheid policies.

On our Alliance! This Central Committee has resolved that we need a reconfigured Alliance which is at the centre of driving the National Democratic Revolution and also an Alliance which is conscious that the primary task in this phase of our transition is to resolve the colonial and apartheid contradictions based on radical economic transformation.

We are not in the Alliance for sentimental and historical reasons but we are in the Alliance because we want to see the fulfilment of the dreams and aspirations of the workers and the working class.

Our alliance should collectively develop policy in line with our vision in the Freedom charter, we should collectively monitor the implementation of policy, we should collectively decide on deployment, and we want an alliance that can call ministers to account. We want an Alliance where partners are treated as equals! If this does not happen we will have to consider a meeting with the SACP or convene a Special National Congress to determine a way forward.

We also send a warning from this congress we will no longer tolerate employers who ignore their obligations to protect the health and safety of their workers and fail to implement our labour laws.

Let us stop this by intensifying our recruitment drive, and our listening campaign.

We need our unions to leave here understanding that they need to deliver better service to their respective members. Let us go and build strong united unions in all sectors, as well as strong and functional bargaining forums.

Let us go and force our social partners into a Jobs Summit because we believe that there is a need for a pact covering jobs, income and prices.

Let us make it clear to government that we need a coherent jobs saving and jobs creation plan in the face of massive retrenchments that are affecting all sectors of the economy.

Let us seize the strategic initiative and ensure that we use this moment to consolidate and multiply our gains as we intensify our struggle for socialism.

I thank you comrades