Address by the General Secretary of COSATU, Solly Phetoe to the SADTU General Council held on the 4th October, 2022
Build working class unity for economic liberation towards socialism
President Cde Magope Maphila
General Secretary Cde Mugwena Maluleke
Alliance leaders present at this important gathering of revolutionary teachers of our country
Esteemed NGC delegates,
On behalf of the NOBs Collective, please receive fraternal greetings from your federation and the more than 1.5 million members of COSATU, of whom SADTU is a critical component.
We take this opportunity to appreciate the invitation by SADTU to its own federation, COSATU. This is a demonstration of a federation alive and in touch with its own affiliates and members. We don’t take it for granted and shall always put members of COSATU and affiliates at the centre of our work.
We are here to both report about the very successful 14th National Congress and its very important outcomes that reflect the qualitative and uninterrupted growth in terms of organisational and class consciousness, of our federation as a leading detachment in workers struggles.
This Congress took place at a critical moment (our emphasis) in the history of the working class, not only in our country, but globally. The working class is on the march, on the streets, in every terrain and site of engagement. This is the battle to the end. The class is fighting poverty, inequalities, hunger, corruption, GBV, crime and oppression and exploitation of any worker, anywhere in the world.
However, this very critical moment presents to us the necessary platform and space to intensify the NDR and the struggle for socialism. Capitalism is not interested nor capable of resolving the contradictions it created and reproduces everyday. This necessitates our decisive focus on the profound, historic and immediate aspirations of the working class.
Unemployment reached an all-time high of 46% in 2021. Whilst some of these lost jobs have begun to be recovered during 2022, unemployment remains our number one crisis. No society can be sustained with 1 out of 2 people unemployed, with 70% youth unemployment.
We remain the world’s most unequal society with rising levels of poverty and indebtedness.
Towards this end, we come out of a very robust Congress that fortified COSATU as the true representative of the working class in all sectors, communities and workplaces. For that, we thank you comrades for taking responsibility for your federation and being true to your mission of safeguarding and advancing the founding principles of COSATU.
We make no secret about the fact that COSATU would not have arisen to the occasion without you and the hard work you are involved in comrades; in all sectors, our affiliates are hard at work, leading decisive battles, hence the heat is on for the renewal and consolidation of the hard won gains of workers.
COSATU Congress Outcomes are not announced by media than COSATU itself, based on the clear directives from workers in their own parliament. We know and are clear what workers said we must do, for the next four years and in the broader medium term.
This is our account of what workers spelt out clearly;
COSATU shall defend and advance the class content of the NDR, building on workers hard won gains. We shall surrender nothing that belongs to workers, no matter the difficulties of the moment and the conjuncture.
COSATU shall intensify workers battles against employers who willy nilly dishonour agreements signed with unions, in defence of collective bargaining, workers rights and our hard won democratic gains
COSATU shall intensify dedicated focus on building unity amongst workers in battles at the workplace and in all sites of struggle
COSATU, working with the SACP, shall intensify the deliberate and systematic development of class consciousness through political and ideological education of workers, whilst also working with all progressive forces towards a clear working class and left popular platform, inclusive of all our tried and tested allies; the ANC and the MDM in general
COSATU shall fight relentlessly for the reconfiguration of the tripartite alliance from below and earn the stripes in the course of asserting working class power for serious transformation and the dismantling of the apartheid political economy of workers exclusion from the economy and the slow pace of transformation. Towards this end, we are guided by our clear perspectives on what reconfiguration of the alliance means in class terms.
COSATU CEC has been mandated by the 14th National Congress to conclude the outstanding work of Congress and the details of these clear perspectives towards effective implementation and heightening of the tempo of the class struggle
Therefore, this calls on all of us to stay focussed and not be diverted from the tasks set out for us by Congress in taking forward these key outcomes and getting busy with practical implementation on the ground.
We further take this opportunity to announce the state of readiness for the 7th October International Decent work day, building on our very successful mobilisations on the 24th August. We are proud of the good work done and the sustained fighting capacity of workers against ever rising costs of living, unending fuel hikes, massive retrenchments in most sectors and the depressing levels of poverty, hunger and unemployment in our country.
The militarisation of international relations by the worlds biggest military conglomeration, NATO and attacks on the sovereignty of other peoples resources must be condemned and rejected. Even moreso, by us who know and experienced the colonial brutality of imperialism by predecessors of NATO and its contemporary expression. This only benefits the global military complex that suppress and oppress us all over the world.
We call for workers unity against apartheid by the state of Israel, as well as the ending of the blockade and sovereign aggression against the people of Cuba and Venezuela by US imperialism.
We particularly take this opportunity to salute the practical solidarity work SADTU has been doing in supporting and working with other teachers unions in the region, in which case, eSwatini, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Lesotho bear testimony to your selflessness dear comrades. We can testify further on work with the rest of the continent and globally, you are trailblazers and pathfinders comrades and you make COSATU proud. Africa is our home and immediate surrounding and we cant avoid our responsibility to work with and strengthen our regional and continental trade union movement.
This is true to COSATU’s founding principle of international solidarity and working class internationalism. No worker has ever won any struggle without the solidarity of others, be it at the workplace, nationally or globally. Workers have nothing to lose by uniting in struggles than their chains, as Marxists we say.
As we come to the end of our address, may we emphasise the back to basics campaign to renew our federation and its engines towards more decisive and radical transformation of our economy and the creation of jobs.
We note the new Board of Eskom and congratulate our former General Secretary, Bheki Ntshalintshali in his new deployment and pledge to work with him and others to end loadshedding, fight attempts to privatise Eskom and all public entities and get the Eskom Recovery Plan on course.
We also salute our former 2nd Deputy President, who remains the President of our affiliate, SACCAWU, Cde Louise Thipe, the fighting imbokodo and stalwart of our movement. You are a living testimony of the resilience of working class women President.
We thank the two of you our living legends and proud examples of the working class resilience, seasoned activism and builders of COSATU.
With these few words, we wish this historic gathering our teachers, the primary ideologues of our society, the best as you deliberate what are the next frontiers we should conquer in pursuit of the aspirations of the poor and oppressed people of our country, working class in particular.