Closing address by President of SADTU Cde Magope Maphila at the 8th SADTU National Congress

5 October 2014, Birchwood Conference Centre, Benoni

Comrade Vivienne Carelse, former Vice President for Culture;
General Secretary;
National Working Committee Members;
The National Executive Committee;
Leadership of our Regions and Branches;
The former members of NEC and all National committees;
Comrades Delegates
Revolutionary Alliance leaders;
Our International guests and friends;
The Mass Democratic Movement Organisations (Cosas , Sasco);
Management from all sectoral organisation (ELRC, SACE, ETDP seta, SIHOLD, SIT led by Harold Samuels);
Invited Guests and Special Guests;
Our Sponsers;
Staff Members;
Comrades and Friends;
Media Houses both Print and Electronic

Greetings Comrades,

The closing of this 8th National Conference has come at last, after the hard work by delegates who ensured that the Congress is nothing else but a success. We salute you comrades. We salute you for your sterling work.

On behalf of this leadership collective, I want to remind ourselves about what SADTU stand for. According to SADTU Constitution as amended in October 2010 the overriding aim is ‘to unite teachers, education workers and educationalists and work for a non-racial, Non-sexist, just and democratic system of education in a free and democratic South Africa.`

After each and every Congress the leadership`s role is to continue working and to UNITE teachers and organize them for maximum delivery on the resolutions adopted at Congress. Our role is to lead the entire Union not only those who elected us but everybody including those who did not nominate or elect us. They are all comrades. They exercised their democratic right freely and did so in an open manner showing their respect for the principles of democracy.

Comrades, one of the lessons we must always keep in mind is that other Organizations have not yet mastered the art of unity after conferences. Comrades start treating those who did not vote for them as non-comrades. They immediately start leading their own factions and not lead the Organization as a whole. Those who lost at Conference immediately start preparing for the next conference. This is an anomaly that has killed many former liberation movements in Africa and elsewhere in the world. It has never happened with SADTU and it will not happen now. SADTU has run successful conferences in the past and we shall abide by this rich legacy.

We commit ourselves to lead SADTU and treat everybody with respect and equally.

Comrades, Education is one of the top priorities in terms of the ruling party‘s manifesto. We are content with that. It is a sign of goodwill and purpose of direction. SADTU has taken clear resolutions at this 08th National Congress in line with the needs and expectations not only of SADTU members, but of the entire society because education is about the future of their children. Our resolutions are not selfish in nature. They are revolutionary resolutions aiming at achieving the call by the President of the Republic when he said Education is a top priority and it is a societal matter. We demand clear commitment from the National Department of Education in the realization of this Government priority as guided by our own resolutions. We demand from the Minister clear commitment to bring more resources into the system.

Hon. Minister, We demand from you total commitment to bring positive change. Not sporadic or unthought-of interventions which continues to plunge the system into chaos. Education cannot be run by the media. Hon. Minister we as SADTU are not pleased that each time an article appears in the press panic buttons are pressed and it is immediately a national crisis.

In all Education matters, we demand to be consulted. We do not need much from you just two commandments we shall be happy with:

Commandment One: Thou shall consult SADTU, not just consultations but meaningful consultations.

Commandment Two: Thou shall respect SADTU with all thy heart and your mind.

We are not joking, comrades. SADTU is a majority Union. It cannot be correct that we hear of certain things in the media and we rush to check why this and why that.

South Africa is a unitary state. We do not have a federation of Provinces. We cannot have one Province, particularly Western Cape Department of Education announcing certain things without national agreements on those matters. It is one of your roles Honorable Minister to ensure that there is coherence in the way Provinces are administering education in line with National Policy and Guidelines.

Comrades delegates in no time we are going into Local Government Elections as a country. We shall once again remind ourselves of the need to work tirelessly to strengthen the Alliance structures in order to win these Local Government Elections for the ANC. We shall be doing this for the future of our children as the working class.

Let us depart here with a renewed feeling of patriotism and loyalty. Let us feel much honored to belong to SADTU. And as a leadership collective let us commit ourselves to the ideals that SADTU stand for. Together with these masses of our people we shall not falter.

As leaders from the Branches, Regions, Provinces and here at National, we are like drivers of a bus whose passengers are SADTU members. But these passengers are also drivers in their own right and know where they are going. My advice: when you reach a T- junction do not turn right because SADTU members know the direction of where they are going. Turn left in the direction of their resolutions, they will never trouble you. But if you insist on the wrong direction they will simply remove you from the driving seat and pick one amongst them who will drive safely into the direction of their resolutions because all these members of SADTU are drivers and they know their destiny.

Let`s always be vigilant and work in the interest of the organization.

In 1997 when Nelson Mandela handed over the baton of leadership to the newly elected President of the ANC he said "The danger of being elected to a leadership position unopposed is that you end up thinking that you are better than everyone".

When comrades are elected unopposed in a conference sometimes they tend to forget that the delegates saw them as the best candidates for the programme as adopted by conference and not that there were no other candidates. This implies that those elected have a duty to work with everyone in the interest of the members.

We must warn the elected leadership therefore that the positions they occupy today call for leadership and responsibility to unite the union. Comrades must move away from being in a conference mood until the next conference and members must constructively criticize leaders the need arising.

Thank you once again delegates.

Thank you once again staff members because without you this conference could not have taken place.

Thank you our guests, alliance partners and media houses.

Travel safely back home. Happy World Teachers Day. We stand by this year`s theme of UNESCO "Invest in the Future, Invest in Teachers." Happy 24th Anniversary SADTU.

Thank you everybody once again.