Address by the COSATU President , comrade Sidumo Dlamini to the SADTU National General Council- held from 26th  – 28th  October 2012 , at Premier Hotel, O.R. Tambo, Kempton Park

The president of SADTU comrade Thobile Ntola
The entire leadership of SADTU from all levels
The leadership of COSATU as represented by the CEC members present here today
The General Secretary of the SACP comrade Blade Nzimande 
The leadership of the ANC
The leadership of SANCO
The leadership of SASCO
The leadership of COSAS
The leadership of the Young Communist League
Deputy Minister of Education comrade Enver Surty
Invited guests from Education International representing more than 30 million teachers worldwide.

As COSATU we are pleased to have been invited to address the National General Council under the theme “Organise and Empower Education Workers to Deliver Free Quality Public Education and Build Socialism”.

This NGC is taking place just a day after the Minister of Finance delivered the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement which sets the Fiscal Framework for the next three years.

We welcome a focus on increasing the social wage package for workers and the poor and a focus on increasing infrastructure spend capacity development and infrastructure delivery.

Whatever the good intentions articulated in the statement for as long as there is a continued attachment to inflation targeting policy and for as long as there is no desire to address the overvalued exchange rate we will argue that the good intentions will remain just on paper.

We continue to argue that employment and poverty eradication must become a central part of the Reserve Banks overall mandate.

We will continue to argue for a stable and competitive exchange rate that can better promote the growth of local industries and make their products competitive in global export markets, and drive up both skills development and employment.

We are also seriously concern about the statements that the recent three-year public service wage settlement provides for “above-inflation increases in salaries” and that strong measures are needed for more effective controls over personnel expenditure.   

In our view this reflects a fundamental lack of understanding of the demands associated with the developmental function of the public service.
In our view for public service employees to be effective not only should salaries be acceptable, but there is also a need to ensure that the many vacant posts are filled.

If we talk about the radical transformation in the second phase of our transition that must translate into budget commitments which must also focus on building the capacity of the state to drive such radical transformation.

As COSATU we will continue to engage government and in the alliance about these matters until there is agreement in the same way that there is agreement about a need to have pour policies focusing on poverty, creating decent employment and eradicating inequalities in the country.

We know that some of these are issues that will never be won on the table but out of a protracted struggle!

This NGC is also taking place in the context of challenges confronting COSATU and the movement as a whole, where there is an attempt to turn our people against us.

We want to tell those who thought that by counter organising thorough   intimidating and killing NUM leaders and members in the mines in Rustenburg we will run away, they were wrong!

We were born in vinegar times and fed with lemons; we have a political DNA of the brave worriers who never surrendered even under the barrel of a gun. We will not move an inch and we remain on the side of the workers.

We call on workers to attend the rally at Rustenburg in numbers. Transport has been organised. Your unions have organised transport , let us all go to Rustenburg to launch an offensive against the employers , against poverty wages , against employers high bonuses .Let us go to Rustenburg to intensify our living wage . Organise or starve!

Those who thought we will re-treat were wrong. Organisation was built in the spirit of no surrender!

We will go to every mine and speak to workers, we will go to every mine and tell the employers that they are wrong to dismiss or retrench workers. We are COSATU and we stand in the side of the workers. 

We want to congratulate the NUM for standing firm and for being principled, we congratulate the NUM for the strides they are making as they negotiate and making further gains based on the mandates given by the workers. Truth and principle will always win over lies and demagogy.

We will continue to serve the workers and to honestly correct our weaknesses. We call on all the workers who out of frustration decided to leave , come back home COSATU is your home ,raise your problems in the family and together with you we will confront and address them!

Comrades, this NGC is held after a successful COSATU 11th National Congress in which you the collective leadership and the entire membership of SADTU re-elected the COSATU leadership collective to continue with the task of taking the federation to 2015.

We want to take this opportunity  to thank you  for the confidence you demonstrated to a us, we want to repeat that we do not take your decision to re- elect us for granted because  we know that you may have used your democratic authority to decide otherwise.

We want to promise you that we will remain true and committed to the task of serving the workers and the working class of this country.

We will remain true to the task of ensuring that COSATU remains united and focused to its primary task of fighting for the improvement of salaries, of fighting for the improvement of working conditions, of fighting for job security, of fighting against unemployment, poverty and inequality in our country.    

We remain focused to the three interrelated mandates given to us by the 10th Congress which included ensuring ideological clarity to defend , develop and apply  Marxism –Leninism  to understand who is on our side and what are the forces ranging against us, of developing a programme for transformation and of building a working class biased transformation programme.

The mandate which you gave us in the recently held 11th National congress was connecting and elaborating on this 10th Congress mandate. In the 11th Congress you were unequivocal in your mandate and you said:

Firstly, ideological clarity must mean we should fight a consistent ideological war in every corner of our country, in all the strategic centers of power in our society, inside government, in the state institutions including in education institutions, you said we must fight with everything we have and to confidently table socialist alternative as a practical call for a total break with orthodox neoliberal policies, which have failed our country. We must inspire our people that an alternative to the failed capitalist system is nothing else by Socialism.

When parents of the children you teach cannot afford to put food on the table for their children and only relying on school feeding scheme because food prices have increased and a majority of them are unemployed, when there is an increased in child headed house - holds , when there are children at school who fail not because they are incapable but because they lack the necessary nutrition to enhance their  cognitive development ,   it is your task to point out to the solution of a need for parents to rely on their collective efforts such as building cooperatives.

It is your task to at the same time point  out that  whilst more than million children are being  pushed to poverty and  hunger through an increased in global food prices ,  the world has enough food to feed  its 7 billion human species but capitalism through speculative investment is robbing our children of food provision.

What happens is that a farmer sells his or her crops at a future date at a guaranteed price. However, these contracts can also be bought and sold by speculators who have no interest in the actual food being traded. Instead, by buying and selling the contracts they could profit from the prices changing over time.
Big investment banks are betting on the price of staple foods, like wheat, maize and soya. This is causing food prices to rise and making people go hungry

We learn from the report of the World Development Movement which estimated that Barclays made as much as £529m from its "food speculative activities" in 2010 and 2011. Barclays made up to £340m from food speculation in 2010, as the prices of agricultural commodities such as corn, wheat and soya were rising. 

When teachers get to the class to teach economics or health, agriculture etc, you must at the same expose the criminality, the mercilessness and inhumanity of capitalism as a system that bases on greed and of having caused all the misery we see in the world today and incapable of resolving the challenges confronting humanity.

When there is a continued drop -out rate because of learner pregnancy , increase in learner drug abuse and youth criminal activities because these are the shot cuts and the only way out to get money for food in their families,   when the salary of a teacher becomes inadequate because you have to spread it throughout the unemployed members of the extended family , you must know that your responsibility is not just to infuse the neo  liberal mantra to learners but to make them question the economic system that have brought misery to their lives , their  families and communities in which they live. 

It is you the revolutionary teachers who are better equipped with the science and art of using the power of a written and a spoken word  to develop capacity for our people to be their own liberators and to point a way point a way out of the misery imposed by capitalist economic crisis.

The test of quality education and of an empowered teacher will be the extent of focus and ability to build capacity for the learners to find solutions to the challenges confronting the world and to develop their ability to change the world for the benefit of humanity and preserving the environment as whole.

Secondly the 11th Congress said that the programme for transformation must connect to the ANC policy conference recommendations for a radical change in the second phase of our transition. You said in the 11th Congress, this content of this transformation programme should be to re-engineer our own Lula Moment or building our Freedom charter moment through building peoples power from below.

You articulated this programme to mean that at the level of the state, the movement must take urgent measures to implement strategies to systematically build an effective and capable developmental state, which leads social and economic transformation that is biased towards the working class.

You said the movement must develop and implement a coherent set of policy interventions, which, in reality and not just at the level of rhetoric, constitute a radical shift, putting the creation of decent work and redistribution at the centre of policy.

You did not end at making general statements; you said this radical transformation programme must have the following elements:

  1. A package of interventions to advance a radical economic shift, including specific commitments to align macro-economic policies, and all institutions of state, to the agenda of promoting decent work, agreed interventions to dramatically scale up the state`s role in strategic sectors of the economy as proposed at the ANC  2010 National General Council.
  2. A commitment  that all appointments  to  strategic positions in government and other state institutions  will be reviewed in line with the need to effect these changes in strategic Ministries, including Treasury, the South African Reserve Bank  , key State Owned Enterprises  and Development Finance Institutions , and that their mandates be changed accordingly. A renewed and more focused mandate should also be given to the National Planning Commission to realign the planning process to reflect this radical shift.
  3. Implementing proposals to promote a more effective, co-ordinate developmental state, including the Alliance agreed proposal to implement a Council of State, to ensure a more streamlined and effective Cabinet structure.
  4. A coherent labor market, wages and incomes policy, including a legislated national minimum wage, linked to a minimum living level, and comprehensive collective bargaining; and social protection measures, including a grant for the unemployed. These policies should be explicitly aimed at redistributing income, radically raising incomes of the working poor, and reducing inequality.
  5. Special intervention programmes to address crisis situations, in public health and education, and other identified areas of service delivery.
  6. Agreement on a protocol on the Alliance and Governance to ensure effective implementation of ANC and Alliance policies, and co-ordination with the work of government.  Further to create a regular co-coordinating mechanism between the President of the ANC who is also the president of the country and COSATU which will include  ensuring  a structured forum for ongoing input into issues of governance.
  7. You said we must fight for an  Alliance mechanism to receive reports, monitor and ensure implementation of identified strategic or priority Alliance decisions which seek to contribute to this radical shift e.g. the proposals from the NGC on transformation of the mining sector, and state ownership in key sectors of economy, various Polokwane and Manifesto undertakings on the economy, corruption and state transformation etc

Thirdly comrades you said the content of organisational building must  mean updating the 2015 Plan to draw lessons from our failures and success in its implementation and its dominant features will be  to take radical steps to reassert the values of sacrifice, selflessness, service to the people, democratic participation, harnessing of peoples power , narrowing the social distance between leaders and the masses,  including acting decisively to combat conflicts of interest in the movement as a whole .  

Even on this one the 11th Congress was not general. You said in  that achieving this radical programme  will require a COSATU, a SADTU,  an ANC , an SACP , a SASCO , a COSAS, a  YCL , an ANCYL that do not take mass support for granted but that  is found with the masses at all material times. You said this will require a movement that leads from the front. You said we must consciously build a movement which does not only have a perspective of the mass line but that implements the mass line. 

I want emphasize comrades that whilst the mass line and mass perspective are integral to each but they are not the same things.  A mass perspective is a point of view regarding the masses which recognizes: 1) that the masses are the makers of history, and that revolution can only be made by the masses themselves; 2) That the masses must come to see through their own experience and struggle that revolution is necessary; and 3) That the workers’ organization must join up with the masses in their existing struggles, bring revolutionary consciousness into these struggles, and lead them in a way which brings the masses ever closer to revolution.

A mass perspective is based on the fundamental Marxist notion that a revolution must be made by a revolutionary people, that a revolutionary people must develop from a non-revolutionary people, and that the people change from the one to the other through their own revolutionizing practice.

But comrades it is possible to understand the notion of the mass line technique, and yet fail or consciously refuse to translate it into practice and it is also possible to have a mass perspective and still ignore the application of the mass line.

We saw this when we characterize our movement as a mass based movement but take decisions on behalf of the masses. We saw this when we said that one of the principles of the RDP was that it should be people centered and be people driven and yet in the 90’s there was a conscious attempt to demobilize the masses through on among others refusal to implement political educations programmes, refusal to get masses into action to articulate their demands as a collective.

We are seeing it right inside our unions where we have a principle of worker control but we have less mass meeting to consult the masses to solicit their mandates or we ignore or even undermine what the masses are telling us on the bases that those in leadership have a global picture as if the masses do not a have a sense of a global picture which to them is poverty, lower wages and unemployment.

We need to build our organizations into formation that do not only hold a mass perspective but respect and actually implement the mass line as the primary method of revolutionary leadership of the masses. 

The mass line involves 1) gathering the diverse ideas of the masses; 2) processing or concentrating these ideas from the perspective of revolutionary Marxism-Leninism, in light of the long-term, ultimate interests of the masses   and in light of a scientific analysis of the objective situation; and 3) returning these concentrated ideas to the masses in the form of a political line which will actually advance the mass struggle towards a revolution.

In this regard the 11th Congress said as we prepare for Mangaung we must mobilize and fight to achieve all these things. Congress said even if we can achieve these outcomes but they will not happen automatically, they will require a decisive leadership with a political will to drive them.

The recently held Special CEC answered the question who will be the leadership that will drive this programme and once again you said there is enough evidence pointing to the fact that despite the challenges confronting our revolution, there has been progress since Polokwane. In this context the CEC agreed that we want a leadership which meet the following criteria:

  1. A commitment to a radical NDR and thorough going transformation of society
  2. A proven commitment to the Alliance and asserting the hegemonic position of the working class as a primary motive force
  3. Commitment to the unity of the ANC, the Alliance and the democratic movement
  4. Commitment to make this decade truly a decade of workers and the poor and galvanize the progressive forces of the liberation movement and the working with progressive elements of civil society
  5. Have an anti imperialist and internationalist character
  6. Have a struggle record and are politically experienced.

The CEC insisted that our intervention does not seek to endorse any slate politics or divide the ANC. On the contrary we seek to achieve a more united ANC where a bitter leadership contest must be avoided so that we create more space for policy debate to shape the content of the second phase of the transition for a radical transformation of our economy. 

As we said in the CEC following the 5th Central Committee that we seek to ensure that the ANC does not get taken over by the new class of tenderpreneurs.

In this regard the Special CEC said that we shall advance a position of both continuity and change in the Polokwane collective. We will endorse those we have identified as the core of the Polokwane collective the current President, Deputy President and the Secretary General.

In our assessment the other comrades have not assisted us in taking forward the Polokwane resolutions in particular the National Treasurer and the Deputy Secretary General. We will engage with the current leadership and the rest of the ANC to ensure that this nucleus is retained and that it should not contest each other.

Very soon we will be convening the Political commission to discuss who we think should be in the ANC NEC and again we approach this matter based on our class interests.

The point we are making here comrades is that there can be no radical phase of our transition or a Lula moment or a freedom charter centered radical transformation if we do not have a leadership at the of our revolution which places the masses at the centre of our programmes, not just in words but in practice.

We want leaders must go to the masses and lead from the front. Let us see SADTU convening mass meeting in communities where you work which must not only include your members but also community members and construct a programme of action that is articulated by the people in these mass meetings.

There is no other way of engineering radical transformation that is based on the freedom charter without building momentum from below.

What we say of the rest of the movement also applies to SADTU as a revolutionary organization.

At the centre of   building this organization is to strengthen and defend its trade union character. There is a continued attempt to use sustained criticism to render SADTU into a timid trade union.

This call for you comrades to consciously do things in a manner that seeks to confront these attempts which seeks to remove the radical and militant content of SADTU so that you remain without your intestines like a Zombie. But how should you do this.

Part of this is that you must focus on building the political and organizational capacity of your site stewards.  A site steward  or branch leaders or regional leaders and Provincial leaders  who cannot provide service to members and run away when they have to represent members only to appear when there are promotion posts must know that they have no place in SADTU .

Comrades who pretend to be committed to the revolution when they are in fact eyeing for promotion post must be identified and be exposed.

Please comrade leaders stop using promotion posts as patronage to buy loyalties, please comrades stop building political commitment which is based on a calculation to secure a post one day.

That is not to build an organization but you are destroying such a glorious organization of comrade  Don Pascal , comrade Mnguni and  Mathew Goniwe

Comrades you have a responsibility to build a new site steward with ideological clarity, a site steward who knows that to be a site stewards is not a ladder to become an HoD or a principal. Comrades if you do not address this cancer it will corrode all the political value system of SADTU and change you into a stokvel or a syndicate for promotion posts. 

Lastly SADTU members must fight to always win the confidence of the society at large and the communities they serve in particular by teaching and teaching effectively. SADTU must lead the Quality learning campaign from the front.

It must be SADTU that should make  educators ware  that we teach to build capacity of the working class communities   to become their own liberators