Address by the President: SADTU Cde. Magope Maphila during SADTU 9th National Congress held at NASREC Conference Centre in  Johannesburg from the 25th to the 28th September 2019

25 September 2019

Comrade General Secretary
National Working Committee
The National Executive Committee
Leadership of our Provinces, Regions and Branches
Former leaders of SADTU – Harold Samuels, our founder Treasurer
Comrades Delegates
Leaders of the Alliance (ANC, SACP, COSATU)
Our International guests and friends
Mass Democratic Formations
Leaders from other teacher Unions and Associations
Management of Sectoral Organisations and Business leaders
Department of Basic Education
Department of Higher Education
Our Social Partners: ELRC,ETDP-SETA and SACE
Student Chapters across all universities in South Africa
Members of the Media
Our Staff Members
All protocol observed

Please receive revolutionary greetings on behalf of the entire 260 000 Members of SADTU who are scattered across the length and breadth of our beautiful Country, present in all our Primary and Secondary Schools, our TVETS colleges and Universities.

Comrades let me start by congratulating the African National Congress for the successful National Elective Conference held at NASREC in 2017 and the subsequent formation of the 6th National Parliament.

It will be inadequate if I don’t take the advantage of this podium to congratulate Cde. Mugwena Maluleke, the General Secretary of this mighty Union for his re-election as the Vice President of Education International for the African Region. Your re-election is a vote of confidence in SADTU and the Country on the international stage. In the same vein I want to congratulate Cde. Mabutho Cele, the Deputy President of SADTU for his election as the Convenor of the Common Wealth Teachers Group. These are palatable news. We salute you comrades and wish you fruitful years in your stay in office.

Comrades, this conference is taking place during the centenary of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) formed and led by Clements Kadalie-an African Nyasalander from Malawi in 1919 as the forerunner of our trade union movement. This movement raised the prestige of the African workers and instilled fear in the hearts of the white minority regime.

We will not be wrong if, in the name of this gallant African, we re-commit ourselves to the ideals of the National Democratic Revolution which seeks to deliver a better and quality life for all and in particular protect and advance the struggles of the working class and their children. When Clements Kadalie passed away in East London in 1952 he knew that the spark for revolutionary trade union movement was unleashed.

The Congress is taking place within a milieu which is a mixture of true and false, producing a toxic cocktail of emotions in which the daily reality of the working class is ridiculed and vulgarised by those who control and own the means of production to subjugate and reverse the gains of our toil and sweat.

This is an era of poverty and joblessness characterised by endemic and sporadic social upheavals across Africa and other parts of the developing world. It is, in the words of Director General of ILO – Guy Ryder, an era in which tolerance of those who look, who think, who sound, who pray or love differently, is perceived as a weakness or even a betrayal. It is an era in which to be an African of a working-class origin means immediate poverty and exclusion.

Me believe and I know that those of you who know the pains of poverty, domestic violence, rape and death of the loved ones, disappearances and neglect will agree with us that it is by design that an African is poor in Africa. It is acutely and painfully true that it is by design that an African is consuming what he doesn`t produce. It is by design that an African man or woman drown in the Mediterranean Sea trying to cross to the promised land yonder. It is by design that an African is dying of hunger and malnutrition. It is by design that Africans rise against fellow Africans. It is by design that African girls and boys are cannon-fodders in the civil wars that are ravaging our continent. 

It is not an accident of nature that Africa with its rich mineral resources is unable to feed its people. It is not an accident of nature that inter - African trade is nothing compared to trade with the developed world. It is by design.

This grand design is the product of neo-liberal agenda to force governments across the developing world to restructure government departments in a way that reduce government involvement in the affairs of their people. These SAP`s(structural adjustment programmes are meant to throttle Africans and their governments into being beggars in perpetuity.

The strategy of the neoliberals is to cause chaos big enough for the citizens of the developing world to cry for international support and intervention. The World Bank, IMF and other conspirators will promise support and relief and thus entrench their own policies and alter governments policies and reduce their independence.

The cry for the cutting of the public sector budgets, reduction of educator posts, reduction of posts in health and police services is not new.

Comrades you will recall the severance packages which were offered to the public servants immediately after 1994. That strategy achieved the opposite of what government wanted to achieve. Teachers and other public servants left the system. We are still reeling under the negative impact of that strategy. It did not only fail our schools. It actually collapsed the capacity of the state to deliver quality public education right across the system.

We are ready to engage on whatever plan government has on the strengthening of the public service BUT never to try and reduce the post basket that is available in education. We cannot allow the corporatisation, commercialisation and/or privatisation of education. Teaching is in its own nature labour intensive. You need a teacher in every class, in every learning area across grades.

When governments across the globe are voted into power, they are voted on only one promise “to look after their own people” but African Governments make it romantic to turn against their people instead of turning to their people. South Africa should never dare to falter and fall into this trap.

Comrades, let me refer to the bold promises made by the President of South Africa, Cde Matomela Ramaphosa during his State of the Nation Address 2019. Comrade President said that in the next ten years we will have made progress in tackling poverty, inequality and unemployment where:

  • No person in South Africa will go hungry
  • Our economy will grow at a much faster rate than our population
  • Two million more young people will be employed
  • Our schools will have better educational outcomes
  • Violent crime will be halved if not eliminated.

As we are speaking today, comrade President, Stats SA reported recently that unemployment has gone to a high level of 29%, with youth unemployment well over 50%. This is a scary picture to say the least. The situation is a crisis which needs extra – ordinary means to address. The time of speeches and popular resolutions does no longer apply. We as the working people need practical interventions now because tomorrow is too late.

The days of jobless growth, experienced during the years of GEAR, Asgisa, Jipsa and other nice sounding acronyms, are gone. Those days are over. Those days are gone. People do not eat nice acronyms and good English.

We are with you cde President Ramaphosa, without blowing our own trumpet, we have been with you when it was not a novelty to do so, never doubt our support, however, never dare to falter and take your eyes off the ball.

We need economic growth that is pro-employment. We stand for economic growth that generate employment in order to absorb the army of the unemployed that is roaming our towns, our villages and our cities.

We pledge our support, and we pledge ourselves for an economic growth that focuses on the eradication of joblessness.  We need practical interventions in the structure of the economy both vertically and horizontally while at the same time the Education Project is implemented.

The Education Project is not a luxury.  We don’t have the luxury of choice when we come to education. The quality of matric pass rate must not be the only priority. The improvement of the quality learning and teaching cannot be postponed. The strengthening of Annual National Assessment is more critical in order to give attention to other grades other than Grade 12.

In 2018 our Country took part in the Teaching and Learning International Survey commissioned by the OECD. Now called the TALIS Report. I may not refer to all the key findings of the report but I will refer to a few that are directly under our purview:

The report suggests that South African educators spend 66% of their time on actual teaching as compared to 78% of their counterparts in other OECD countries. This means less contact time with learners. The study also borrowed from SACMEQ study completed in 2007. All reports alluded to weak institutional functionality as provinces differ on implementation quality, weak teacher content knowledge and pedagogical skill. There is also a notion of undue union influence in education.

Comrades, you will recall that we were the first to raise the fact that teachers’ time is stolen by a lot of paper work introduced with the new curriculum.  We want teachers to teach. Teachers must spend more contact time with the learners in the classroom.

Curriculum advisers, circuit managers and other auxiliary services personnel must monitor and support schools. Teachers need support. Quality teacher workshops and curriculum planning is vital for education to succeed.

In the majority of Provinces, Districts and Circuit Offices were weakened. Many subjects do not have subject advisors. Newly appointed school managers must be supported to manage schools and manage the curriculum delivery.  The reduction of administrative posts in schools reduced many school principals into school clerks.

Education needs to be resourced starting from the total eradication of inappropriate structures like dilapidated classrooms, mud schools, pit latrines, provision of teaching and learning resources, to the staffing of schools and many more. This resonates with our theme which will be expatiated in the secretariat report.

Comrades every year SADTU in partnership with SADTU Investment Holdings goes to Provinces as part of social responsibility to donate to the needy schools. It is painful to discover at this juncture, twenty-five years into democracy, with government in our hands to find schools that are without school furniture and are struggling with classroom space. Most of these schools are black schools in rural parts of our Provinces. It is sad.

SADTU is standing here today to re-commit itself to quality teaching and learning. Our teachers must teach. Teachers who bank their lessons and thus leaving learners to fend for themselves don’t deserve to be SADTU members. Curriculum and circuit managers must support schools. Those who sit in their offices and fail to support our schools don’t deserve to be SADTU members.

The Department of Basic Education must eliminate inappropriate structures in our Provinces, eliminate inhuman ablution facilities in schools and provide adequate furniture to our schools.

Let us all do our part. We commit ourselves to do our part.

Comrade President never dare to falter and get into the trap into which many of our African States have fallen.  

Today, as I woke up in the early morning, I read a very depressing report titled “African Economic Outlook 2019” produced by African Development Bank Group led by its President Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina. In a nut shell the report is saying that “Africa`s labour force is projected to be nearly 40% larger by 2030. If the current trends of joblessness continue, only half of the new labour force entrants will find employment and most of the jobs will be in the informal sector. This implies that close to hundred million young African people could be without jobs making the eradication of extreme poverty by 2030 a difficult task.”

Informal sector is a default economic sector exercised only when the poor are facing extreme poverty, chronic unemployment and bleak future of work. A country cannot pride itself about the informality trap. Many African States are in this trap wherein informal sector is the main job creator while other productive sectors are in decline.  This is a dangerous trap that continues to perpetuate inequality between people working in the formal sector and those who are in the informal sector.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) defines informal sector as non-contracted jobs, that are not regulated or protected and that confer no rights to social protection. In this sector productivity and wages are low and work is insecure. In fact, informal jobs correlate with perpetuation of inequality and poverty.

Hundred million unemployed young people by 2030 is a catastrophe. It is a nation of unemployed young men and women in Africa.  No amount of police brutality will stop them from crossing borders to find something to eat and built families. No amount of border patrols will block the wave of the poor and the hungry to find food. 

Intervention is needed now, tomorrow is too late.

The task ahead needs men and women who are dedicated to the course of the poor, the vulnerable and the destitute. We as the members of the revolutionary Alliance led by the ANC support all attempts to liberate our masses from poverty and perpetual servitude. We stand to be counted in the fight against the ignorance, poverty and inequality.  

Comrades delegates this Conference is taking place in South Africa which is today characterised by high levels of crime perpetuated against women, children, orphans, the disabled and the elderly. 

The twin challenge of drugs and crime in our townships, towns, cities, villages, schools and everywhere is ravaging our youth. Attacks on migrants, looting and burning of spaza shops is common. 

School children are being killed in broad day light by those who are supposed to protect them, kids are killing kids. Men are raping women and children alike. Young people are killed in gang violence in broad day light in Cape Town, Gauteng and in all our Provinces.

Destruction of property is not frowned upon. It is a new normality. Communities use learners during service delivery protests. Schools are disrupted without any consequence. School property is being vandalised; food destined for the learners is stolen without any consequence.

We have long declared that our schools are places of safety. Let us insulate our schools from these acts of violence. Gang related incidences in schools must be dealt with in terms of the law. They are not just misconduct cases. These are criminal activities. The law must take its course.

The moral fibre of society is crumbling. Social cohesion is not cohesive.

Institutionalised corruption is loosened. Private sector corruption is widening. State security organs are weakened. Our Chapter Nine Institutions are compromised. Our state of governance in our Municipalities, Provinces and State-Owned Enterprises is in disarray. The State continues to drip-feed Eskom, SAA, Post Office South Africa, SABC, PRASA, Transnet and others. Money continues to go down the bottom-less pit, year in, year out. The State is held ransom by yearly bailouts and guarantees.

It cannot be comrades.

We need an organizational machinery capable of galvanizing society in support of the State. We are ready to lend a hand.

Comrades, Unity of the ANC is the only machinery needed to galvanize society in support of State‘s effort to rid our country of the scourge of violence, crime and corruption. The Mass Democratic Movement must lead society in the fight against illegal activities whether perpetuated by locals or foreign nationals. Law abiding citizens must be protected against drug lords and drug dealers, whether they are locals or foreign nationals. The hand of the law must be strong enough to deal with criminals whether they are locals or foreign nationals.

Rapists in schools, rapists in homes, rapists in the taxis, rapists in the restaurants, rapists in churches, rapists in offices and rapists wherever they are, SHOULD HAVE NO PLACE TO HIDE.

Teachers who rape. Teachers who have sexual relationships with learners and principals who abuse school funds or norms and standards allocations  do not belong to the SADTU family. In the 2009 NGC resolution 3.5. regarding sexual harassment was moved by Gauteng and seconded by KwaZulu Natal in line with our continued posture against sexual harassment.

We encourage a strong partnership between South African Council for Educators, Education Labour Relation Council and the Union to deal with child abuse. Any teacher who commits rape and/or have sexual relationship with a learner must be dealt with in terms of the law. Sex pests once proven in the court of law must be sanctioned. The law must be followed to the letter. Avoid subjecting people to trial by media. Avoid reporting on rumours like the media. Investigate and take strong action. Police must do their job. The courts must do their work.

It will be insufficient if this congress cannot craft clearly formulated resolutions on violence against women and children, Anti - corruption, crime and violence, job creation and job losses.

For the ANC to deliver on its central role of leading the Mass Democratic Formations, it must act in Unity. Not only talk about Unity but act and walk in unity. An ANC that displays disunity or is perceived to be divided along factional lines will not advance the social cohesion agenda which this country needs and deserve today.

Unity of the ANC as a leader of the Alliance is sacrosanct.

In 2005, I read a study titled “Factionalism in Political Parties” by Patrick Kollner and Mathias Basedau. The study had this to say about factionalism: “Faction - based dissent can damage a party`s ability to fight effective campaigns, it can lead to blurry and contradictory positions of a party, it can impede or block intra-party discussions, and debates can be drawn into the vortex of inter-factional power struggles. In some cases, factionalism can even be responsible for corruption within the political party or even within the political system at large”

This is indeed a telling exposure of what factionalism is capable of doing to mighty, vibrant and glorious organisations such as the ANC. We can just look up in Africa to see the remains of the then African Liberation Movements.

The fact that we have invested millions in the Commission of inquiry into state capture and other commissions of similar nature is testimony to the work of what factionalism and corruption can do to organisations and indeed to the state.

The Alliance must not only be united when we plan for National Elections. It must be united in action in dealing with the challenges that are facing our Nation. The unity of the Alliance must be demonstrated during policy formulation and strategy development. We may not agree on everything but we must still engage and demonstrate discipline in the process.

Let me be controversial; Government has issued a plan through National Treasury on how to respond to the economic situation in the country. The plan contains a series of economic interventions as proposals to respond to the issues that are current in the country.

Comrades, we are aware of the position of the Federation and SACP on the matter. We absolutely respect the Federation and SACP stances on the matter. We are also aware of the position of some voices in the ANC although they sound factional. We are also aware of some sort of responses from some of the state-owned enterprise who are the main culprits in the economic crisis.

We call for engagements on the content of the Draft Paper rather than outward rejection based on the procedure. We are painfully aware that we need some time to know what we reject. We need to engage comrades.

In 1938 Christopher ClaudeWell has this to say about non-engagement “Man cannot live without acting. Even to cease to act, to let things go their way, is a form of acting……and since man is always acting, he is always exerting force, always altering or maintaining the position of things, always revolutionary or conservative. 

The economic situation in the country needs action. It is only the ANC as the leader of the Alliance that must show appetite to engage with Government, the Federation, SACP and indeed galvanize society on a government wide strategy to tackle the challenges of joblessness, poverty and inequality.

The need to engage is purely based on our need to find solutions that are causing social upheavals in our villages, townships, cities and towns. Unemployment has reached a crisis point. The crises manifest itself in attacks and looting of shops either owned by migrants or locals, attacks on delivery trucks, and stealing and looting during community protest. All these are symptoms of a bigger problem.

Yes, they are criminal activities BUT one fails to grasp the fact that the whole township, young men and young women can suddenly become criminals and loot  spaza shops, delivery trucks, carry bags of rice, maize-meal, tin-stuffs, bathing and washing soaps etc.

Comrade President, the problem is bigger, your young people are hungry. They need jobs. You are going to arrest all the hungry and the poor. A SOLUTION is needed now and not tomorrow.

Comrades delegates, we stand here to present to you a united and democratic Union based on the values of discipline, resilience, loyalty and commitment.  We call upon every comrade and every leader to fight against the new enemy of the revolution.

Prior the new dawn in 1994, we were all clear about who the enemy was. We fought shoulder to shoulder against the evil system of apartheid and colonialism perpetuated by the minority regime which was based on colour, gender, social status, religion and historical origin. The system that was entrenched in all sectors of society including education.

After the dawn of democracy, with government now in the hands of the majority, the enemy of the revolution like a dangerous virus has mutated. Politicians are struggling and are failing to deal clinically with this new virus that is eating our communities.

The enemy of the revolution manifests itself in tribalism, factionalism, ill-discipline, greed, nepotism, corruption, cronyism, populism, rumour mongering, gossiping, gatekeeping, blatant theft, crime, collusion and above all murder of comrade by another comrade.

As we advance towards the 30th Anniversary of SADTU in 2020, lets stand proud that the UNION is still intact and of sound mind. We call upon every leader and member of SADTU to graduate himself/herself and exorcise themselves from the demons of greed, corruption, ill – discipline, rumour mongering and gossiping.

Comrades, once these demons assume the status of “gods” in your heart, they control you and you begin to worship them. Revolutionary consciousness simply vanishes from you. Revolutionary consciousness does not say goodbye. You will still think you are a comrade and still think that you are still a revolutionary when in fact you are not.

Liberate yourselves comrades. Do it now!!! and not later.

Comrades let me remind you of what I said in 2014 in Birchwood. I quoted OR Tambo when he closed the Morogoro Conference in 1969. He said “Wage a relentless war against disrupters and defend the ANC against provocateurs and enemy agents. Defend the revolution against the enemy propaganda. Whatever form it takes. Be vigilant comrades. The enemy is vigilant. Beware of the wedge – driver, the man who creeps from ear to ear, carrying a bag full of wedges, driving them in between you and the next man, a man who goes around creating splits and divisions. Beware of the wedge – driver, comrades. Watch his poisonous tongue”

Comrades OR Tambo gave the conference a foretaste of the things to come.

We call upon you, comrades delegates to continue to be aware of anyone causing divisions within the Union. We dare not slumber or sleep.

We achieved many successes because our unity some of which will be fully covered by the General Secretary in the main report.

All our Provinces are in good shape, united like never before. The distance between members and the leadership is narrowed through regular Education Workers Forums. The glue that will ensure continued survival of the Union is membership service. SADTU members are the ultimate beneficiaries of every effort we undertake. Visits to Branches and sites is and should be a norm. We can do more in the ECD, AET, TVET and office based sectors

The National Minimum living wage was achieved through unity of COSATU and unity of the Alliance. The multi - year salary agreement in education and the public service is coming to end in 2020. We need maximum unity of SADTU to engage the employer. The cash and non - cash benefits must be maximised in lieu of the challenges that are eating our salaries.

In 2020 the unity of SADTU is needed particularly with the Department of Labour‘s preparedness to implement strike balloting of members before strikes. We did this before and it was part of our constitution. The modalities of reaching a representative number of the 260 000 thousand members must be worked out in detail.

Comrades allow me to present to you this united mighty union.

The Union that belongs to you, the Union that belongs to comrades who let it before us.

The Union that belongs to cde. Clements Kadalie, cde John Gomomo, Cde Matthew Goniwe, Cde Mandela, Cde OR Tambo, cde Ellijay Barayi, John Kgwana Nkadimeng Seaparankwe – Isithwalandwe and many more stalwarts who passed away and those who are still alive.

And allow me on behalf of the NEC to declare the conference officially opened.

Amandla! Amandla!