Address by COSATU President Sidumo Dlamini at the 10th Anniversary of the Young Communist league
2 February 2014, Sharpville, Gauteng Province
The National Secretary of the Young Communist League of South Africa comrade Buti Manamela
The entire leadership of the YCL
The 2nd Deputy General Secretary of our Vanguard -the SACP comrade Solly Mapaila
The entire leadership of the SACP
The Deputy Secretary General of the ANC comrade Jessie Duarte
The interim leadership of the ANCYL
The leadership of SASCO
The Leadership of the Progressive Youth Alliance
Comrades and all communists present here today
I bring revolutionary greetings from the red house which harbours both COSATU and the SACP head offices.
We are honoured to have been invited by the YCLSA, to come and share with you these important 10th anniversary celebrations which happen during such a critical and strategic moment in our revolution.
Please allow me to report a few things about the state of COSATU, your federation today and into the future.
The National Office Bearers, the Central Executive Committee and the more than 2million membership of COSATU said that I must tell you that despite the challenges we are going through, your federation is still alive with an undying fighting spirit.
Workers said that I must tell you that none of our unions will leave COSATU because as workers they will refuse to bow under any pressure forcing them to leave a federation they have built through their sweat over the years under painful circumstances when to be a member of a union or any of our formations meant death.
Instead of having some unions leaving the federation we are getting more unions outside of COSATU writing letters requesting to affiliate to this, fighting federation.
They want to join COSATU because they know that we are part of the revolutionary alliance which has delivered freedom in this country. They know that we are an organisation of principle. We are an organisation which does not compromise principle for political convenience.
We are an organisation that respects its principles, policies and codes of conduct. We are an organisation that belongs to our members and not to individuals.
As we speak we are conducting a disciplinary process which has been widely reported in the media and that process is being handled with all the care and dignity it deserves.
What we will not allow is when some choose to misrepresent facts about this matter in the media forcing all of us to counter these lies using the same media space.
There is a systematic attempt to divert our attention and energies from this organisational process and instil fear to us, plant the seeds of doubts to the public and ultimately render the federation paralysed.
We want to say for all to hear that we will not be detracted by this ill conceived campaign neither will we be made to fear.
But we will focus on ensuring that COSATU remains an organisation which is capable of defending its constitution and policies and that it becomes an organisation which retains its dignity and more importantly we will ensure that COSATU becomes even more militant and radical, not on the terms determined by those who want to liquidate us but based on the tried and tested strategies and tactics agreed to in our various constitutional meetings.
Actually we have known about this campaign to liquidate COSATU, the ANC and the SACP a long time ago. We can systematically trace its emergence and its manifestations from various platforms and actions which pointed out very early that there was an intention to construct COSATU into something that it is not.
The tactics which are being used to attack COSATU and the movement as a whole are similar to those employed by the Apartheid system and many other reactionary forces which wanted to destroy the liberation movement. They all failed as they will fail against.
We now hear that there is planned march to our offices which is a sign of commitment to fight COSATU to the bitter end.
This will not be the first time to see attacks directed against COSATU physical buildings and to targeting individuals. We have been taken to courts and called names in the media by both our class enemies and by those we have for years considered to be our own comrades.
All we know is that our enemies have realised by now that it is not easy to destroy this gigantic federation, the apartheid Adrian Vlok failed when he bombed our head offices on the 7th May in 1987, the DA failed when they rented crowds of African youth to march to our offices, many are still failing as we speak and many will fail in the near future.
Those of our unions who have issues about the federation they must stop raising these in the media. There are constitutional platforms where these can be subjected to rigorous democratic debate and discussion.
Comrades must know that it is wrong to lose a debate in a constitutional meeting and go out to campaign against the organisation using the same issued lost in a democratic process.
Comrades must know that once a decision gets taken by a democratic structure through majority rule all of us must respect and implement such a decision as if we never differed with it in the first place. That is what we call revolutionary discipline.
This new culture of participating in democratic processes and when your views do not win, go out to the media and to the streets to defy the decisions which emerged from a democratic processes in which you also participated is not just wrong and is not just a sign of naked dishonesty but it is a counterrevolutionary act of the highest order.
We want to repeat that, nothing will ever destroy COSATU. We are like the proverbial baobab tree with a longest life span and that can stand all kinds of weather, but still continue to be a shelter to great kings and communities under which great important decisions got taken.
We found COSATU as a strong and fighting federation we will leave even stronger and even more militant and not as a property of an individual but as an even sharper instrument of class battles.
We will leave COSATU as a united, strong worker-controlled organisation. That secures and sustains workers gains.
We will continue to embark on a concerted organisational drive to consolidate, build and further democratise our organisation; extend our organisations to areas where workers are currently unorganised; and to act decisively to combat practices, or conditions, which lead to worker disunity or fragmentation of our organisations.
We are hoping that in the process the Young Communist League will also take some lessons from these painful yet educating experiences our federation is going through.
We have also noted over a long period of time that there is an expressed and yet wrong and ideologically flawed expectation that we should treat the SACP and the ANC as enemies of the working people. This has become a new test to determine who is radical and militant.
If one goes out and hurl insults and throw stones at the SACP or the ANC that person becomes a hero. Those who do not do this are labelled as having been co-opted.
We will not allow ourselves to fall into this trap because the SACP and the ANC remain our long standing strategic and revolutionary allies and also because we have internally established platforms to engage our allies and where we are able to box each other and come out to the public to wage a war against our real class enemies which is white monopoly capital.
Actually our congress has instructed that to build a socialist movement coalescing around the SACP, it said we should work with the SACP to convene a national political school with a view to amongst others develop a common perspective on taking the struggle for socialism forward based on the outcomes of our 11th congress and the SACP`s 13th congress.
Our 11th National Congress have instructed that we should house the SACP at the COSATU House without any rental cost and to continue providing financial, material and other resources both as a Federation and affiliates.
The Congress said we should properly resource the SACP, so that it efficiently and diligently deploys competent cadres into governance without compromising its organizational strength
Our National Congress also instructed that COSATU and its affiliates need to contribute in ensuring that the Party is able to execute its aim of radicalizing the NDR diligently and that the ANC is strengthened to play its leadership role of the NDR.
Our Congress even further clarified that financial assistance to the SACP should be taken as revolutionary contribution and at no stage should this be made an element of conditionality or be disclosed to public unless declared with the approval of the NOB`s of both Organizations.
In other words the 11th Congress was saying that the relationship of our allied organisations must never be on the bases of the good personal relationship between leaders because when that relationship deteriorates it goes down with the organisations.
Secondly the implementation of resolutions by our organisations must never be based on which resolutions individual leaders like or do not like because that will lead to resolutions being implemented half way and those aspects which are not of individual preference become discarded.
Our organisations must never operate simply on the bases of individual trust but must operate on the bases of their own collectively agreed to principles policies, strategies and tactics.
The writing and interpretation of our resolutions and policies must never rely on individuals but must always reflect a shared and common understanding by the collective.
These are congress resolutions which must be implemented as a whole not selectively.
As COSATU we have also conducted our own assessment of both the ANC and the South African political landscape and on the bases of this assessment resolved that with all the challenges our movement is confronting it is only the ANC led Alliance which can advance our demands as it has done all over the years.
Nothing has changed from our assessment which can make us to change our minds on this position. Instead we have held a successful Alliance Summit where together with the SACP were upfront about issues where we did not agree including with certain aspects of the National Development Plan.
We also participated in the drafting of the manifesto and we also repeated areas where we were not happy and there is agreement on the process to be followed to address these issues.
The manifesto has many issues which address our demands. Amongst others these include the following the fact that the manifesto commits on the following:
- To strengthens the enforcement of the Employment Equity Act which requires that employers report unequal incomes in all wage levels and submit plans to reduce inequalities. This is an act which was openly opposed by the DA because it is threatening white privileges
- It commits to ensuring that collective bargaining takes place and is strengthened in all sectors of the economy.
- It commits investigate feasibility to implement national minimum wage, which builds on the decisions reached at the Alliance Summit, where there was an in-principle agreement on the national minimum wage.
- It commits to enforce legislation to eliminate abusive work practises in atypical work and labour broking and to improve the capacity of the Department of Labour to enforce this and all other labour laws. We will be working with government to ensure that this happen
- It commits government on a programme to create decent work and sustainable livelihoods for inclusive growth.
- It commits to the accessible , reliable and affordable public transport
- The manifesto allows space for further engagement with grey areas in the National Development Plan in line with the Alliance Summit decision to allow for a discussion and debate to address the concerns raised by the SACP and COSATU
- We have demanded the implementation of NHI and the manifesto commits to its implementation and we want to work with the Young Communist to monitor its implementation in a manner that ensures that the working class and not capital benefits maximally from the system.
- The manifesto also commits government to strengthen support for co-operatives in marketing and supply activities to enable small scale producers to enter formal value chains and take advantage of economies of scale.
This will include targeting public institutions as primary buyers of agricultural goods and support for small scale producers` access to municipal markets”. It also says that government will expand the Food for All programme as part of the national integrated food and nutrition policy for procuring and distributing affordable essential foodstuffs directly to poor communities and will promote local procurement to increase domestic production and the creation of decent jobs by directing the state to progressively buy at least 75% of its goods and services from South African producers and support small enterprises, co-operatives and broad-based empowerment.
- The manifesto also says that we will ensure all South Africans have access to adequate human settlements and quality living conditions through programmes that provide one million housing opportunities for qualifying households over the next five years, and providing basic services and infrastructure in all existing informal settlements.
Comrades you must know that these good intentions will not happen automatically, but their implementation will be have first to be decided on the ballot box and your task is firstly to go out and mobilise communities to go out in numbers to vote and when they vote to vote ANC so that these promises can become real implementable government programmes.
It will not end with ensuring that the ANC wins elections but YCLSA must also mobilise communities to monitor if government does indeed translate these as its programmes in a manner that was conceived and conceptualised by the ANC and the Alliance as a whole.
YCLSA must ensure that these co-operatives are genuine co-operatives which operate as co-operatives not simply as another PTY limited business for an individual who is the only one who carries an ATM card on behalf of the rest for his own selfish individual family needs. Co-operatives are for collective activity and collective benefit.
This time around comrades we also have got to put to a stop the tendency by some of our deployed cadres who can simply reinterpret policy and implement their own policies not agreed to at congress or in the manifesto such as the National youth tax incentive.
Comrades we have said and we continue to say it today that we strongly believe that any form of youth wage incentives will further cement the exploitation of young workers and will lead to the displacement of older workers.
Despite the assurance that the ANC has given us that workers will be protected against displacement, we believe that no employer would admit the real reason for dismissing an employee and would possibly make allegations of misconduct or poor performance.
The real task which lies ahead includes developing our own proposals about the real programmes which must interpret the commitments in the manifesto. Such a responsibility cannot be left to government bureaucrats alone.
The working class formations have a responsibility to ensure that the common commitment to achieve radical economic transformation becomes a reality.
We must work to build capacity of our own organisations to put forward the real content of what we mean by radical change in the socio-economic conditions of our people and the creation of a powerful developmental state, which intervenes decisively in strategic sectors of the economy.
We must work to put tangible proposals about what we mean about changing the ownership and control patterns of the South African economy which continues to reproduce colonial and capitalist domination and which has increasingly taken a foreign dimension with among others SASOL`s announcement that it will be investing some R200bn in Louisiana.
The task therefore does not end with the ANC wining elections it goes beyond that and includes building capacity of our formations to drive development from below and re- impose the notion of a people centred and people driven development away from a bureaucratic centred and know -all driven development .
For this to happen YCL`s presence must be felt in every jut and corner of the country!
Comrades we know from our own experience that the demands that have today become law in this country were as a result of struggles waged inside the state and in the streets by activists in the movement.
Even as we identify issues where we still need to engage the ANC and the Alliance but we have more reasons to mobilise for the victory of the ANC where there exist a policy platform and proven track record to implement progressive policies which favours working people. For is elections constitute another site of struggle which must be won under the banner of an ANC led Alliance.
COSATU has developed a clear election programme and our unions have also developed elections programmes which connect to the election machinery of the ANC. Workers from all our unions will be working across the length and breadth of our country mobilising for the victory of the ANC.
It is the ANC which liberated workers in this country when other parties where against the Labour Relations Act. We recall days when we marched side by side with comrade Mandela demanding the LRA and the removal of the lock out clause.
We can`t imagine ourselves under the rule of the DA who we know that the first thing they will do will be to repeal the Employment Equity Act, give labour brokers a free reign and repeal the Labour relations Act in the name of Labour market flexibility to secure cheap labour for capital.
Comrades Nelson Mandela warned us when he wrote an article in 1963 tilled the “Shifting Sands of illusions - referring to the Liberal Party which was the DA of that time
“That the high-sounding principles enunciated by the Liberal Party, (which was the DA of that time) though apparently democratic and progressive in form, are essentially reactionary in content. They stand not for the freedom of the people but for the adoption of more subtle systems of oppression and exploitation. Though they talk of liberty and human dignity they are subordinate henchmen of the ruling circles. They stand for the retention of the cheap labour system and of the subordinate colonial status of the non-European masses together with the Nationalist Government whose class interests are identical with theirs. In practice they acquiesce in the slavery of the people, low wages, mass unemployment, the squalid tenements in the locations and shanty-towns”.
We know that any of the issues we have identified will be won on the bases of consciously intensifying the class struggle that will alter the balance of forces on the ground. We know that no class can voluntarily give away political and economic power.
These should be fought for and be won through the strength of our organisation and with the employment of multiple strategies which include mass struggles in the streets and engagements in boardroom.
It is for this reason we will continue to heighten our campaign against youth incentive Tax Act, for the total banning of labour brokers, and against E-tolls because these laws will not serve the interests of the working class. We will continue not buying e-tolls and to demand the total ban of labour brokers. We invite the Young Communist League to join us in these campaigns.
May the YCL continue to live as a vibrant, creative and revolutionary communist youth formation which sets the pace and determine the content and direction of the transition?