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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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Media Centre  |  COSATU Speeches

Message of support to the SACP Joe Slovo 20th Anniversary on his commemoration on the 6 January 2015 at Avalon Cemetery, Soweto

6 January 2015

Bheki Ntshalintshali, COSATU Deputy General Secretary, 6 Jan 2015

The Congress of South African Trade Unions would like to thank the South African Communists Party (SACP) leadership and the family of comrade Joe Slovo (JS) for affording the Alliance and the South African people another opportunity to pay respect and commemorate the life and the contribution comrade, JS made to the liberation movement, as well his efforts in improving the lives of South African people.

Thank so much. Ningadinwa.

Allow us to congratulate the Party in particular, comrade Chris, who on behalf of the SACP has been the face of the " Release the Cuban Five Campaign".

Today, these Cuban comrades are free.

Thanks to the SACP in leading this campaign.

We now appeal to the SACP leadership to recommit the same vigour in ensuring that the President of PUDEMO Comrade, Mario Masuku is released from prison with immediate effect.

Allow us also to congratulate the class of 2014 for writing their Matric exams at end of 2014 and yesterday results were announced.

To all those who wrote we say well done.

To those who made it we say well done, and to those who did not make, please do not despair use all the available opportunities to rewrite or choose other routes.

Matric is just the beginning of acquiring skills and the emphasis is on the next phase of studying.

We also thank both COSAS and SASCO for their campaign in ensuring that the names of those, who wrote exams, are kept confidential, respecting their rights of confidentiality.

Twenty years ago, the leadership of the Party decided to hold the first anniversary to commemorate the passing on of comrade JS, little did we know that 20 years later on the 6 January 2015, we would be here at the Heroes Acres, with the young and old, men and women, standing by his graveside to observe and pay respect to a great leader.

Some of the young presents here have neither seen comrade JS alive and some were neither born.

But here are they are today, paying respect to someone they only learned about his work, what does this signify?

How many of our leaders today, who could stand up and indeed predict that 20 years after their passing on, many people would come to their grave side to pay respect and sing praises of work well done?

It is my guess that very few would receive such a respect and in fact many leaders fear that their own great grand children would come and spit at their graves for the betrayal of our National Democratic Revolution.

Every year many of us come here not only to pay respect but to seek blessings, recommitment, revitalization so that in our endeavours we can be counted as among those, who made a positive contribution as led by comrade JS and his organisation the SACP.

Comrade JS has earned the respect of our people and our organisations for various reasons among others:

1. Comrades JS fully understood the difference between an organisation and leaders. Leaders may come and go but organisation would remain.

2. He emphasised that Members are members of an organisation and not members of other members or individuals.

3. He understood and taught many that when a decision has been taken by an organisation, it is a decision of the organisation and everyone with exception is expected to respect, honour, implement and defend such a decision.

4. He understood that no one owns an organisation but an organisation belongs to all its members equally. No leader, including founding members are themselves an organisation or are above the organisation and therefore irrespective of any position that one may hold is not immune from organisational discipline.

5. That the organisational leadership is inherited from one leaders to the next of kin, that no one is a leader for life and that no leader has the power to appoint or anoint his or her successor.

These characters made comrade JS among others distinct from the many leaders we have and therefore earning his respect from ordinary people.

This year event is the biggest we have attended in the last 20 years.

We thank the leadership of this Province for all the efforts in making this 20th Anniversary so special.

This signifies that 2015 for various reasons is different and it has be treated as a decisive year in many respects:

- 2015 marks the 60 years anniversary of the Freedom Charter
- 2015 marks the 30 years of the existence of COSATU, the year of 2015 Plan, indeed a year of the COSATU National Congress.
- in two days time, the ANC would be 103 years, by mid 2015 the SACP would be 95 years old.
- 2015 the ANC would be holding its National General Council (NGC)
- 2015 the SACP would be holding its Special National Congress
- 2015 we eagerly looking to the finalization of all outstanding issues from the Alliance Economic summit, more so those related to the NDP economic and labour market chapters
- 2015 would be the finalization of the establishment of the legislated national minimum wage

This therefore, means that there are so many expectations for the Alliance as the whole.

We all aware of the achievements made for our people; however more need to be done.

The matters related to e-tolling system, the challenges around energy security supply, the re-emergence of racism especially in the workplace and the transformation of the judiciary are among those needing urgent attention.

Therefore, 2015 is a year of Unity of the Alliance partners.

Like a bird needing to feet and two wings to fly, the Alliance needs COSATU, SANCO, SACP and the ANC to carry its mandate of improving the lives of our people.

The Alliance partners need one another.

The challenges COSATU faces are not new and the Party has a duty and responsibility to contribute in defending COSATU.

Our message of support to the SACP event is informed by our 2015 Plan when we say. " The longer-term vision is to build a strong trade union movement and assert the working class leadership. The march to our long term vision demands patience, resilience, bold thinking foresighted and visionary leadership, it demands unwavering commitment to the principle regardless of short term defeats, retreats and provocations..........".

This passage is important today as it was when the Federation adopted the 2015 Plan which among others calls for the swelling of the ranks of the SACP and ANC, today many, who were leading in this 2015 Plan are working against this vision.

They are in COSATU and in every Alliance Partners and our task is to double our efforts in defence of COSATU.

Let me conclude by making a reference to one of my favourite leader of the Chinese Communists Party.

He paid a high regard for a Communist and he expected high discipline among all its Chinese members and more so of its leaders.

In defining the difference between his party and any other political parties he says that " .....another outstanding feature that distinguishes us Communists from members of all other political parties is that we keep closed contact with the broadest masses of the people. This is our point of departure: to serve the people wholeheartedly without isolating ourselves from them even for a moment, to start from the interest of the people and not from personal or cliquish interests and to harmonise our responsibility towards the leading bodies of the Party. Communists must be ever ready to uphold the truth, because truth always conforms to the people`s interest, they must be ever ready to correct mistakes for all mistakes run counter to the people`s interests. Sectarianism and arrogant style of work are definitely undesirable and must be removed and anyone who show such defects must be ratified. Every comrade must be taught to love the masses of the people ardently and listen to their voices attentively. Conscious practice of self-criticism is another feature that distinguishes us from other political parties. We have said that a room must be regularly cleaned or dust will accumulate in it. Fear no criticism or self-criticism. Blame not him who speaks but heed what you hear".

We wish the Party well in its programme for 2015 and hope that as true and committed Communists you would not rest in building a strong, vibrant and independent COSATU.

We are looking forward to meet here in 2016 with more thousands on our people in attendance.

Long live the sporty of comrade Joe Slovo long live!