Dear National Office Bearers,
Delegates to this important launch of NUMSA political school,
Comrades and friends,
Please allow me to greet you this morning. I wish to borrow from an eminent African revolutionary, Cde Amilcar Cabral. This is what he said many years ago.
"…Learn from life, learn from our people; Learn from books, learn from the experience of others. Never stop learning".
These wise words must inspire us today.
This is a very busy year for NUMSA, COSATU, SACP and the leader of the Alliance, the ANC.
In less than five months from today, NUMSA will hold the all important 9th National Congress. In the NEC that ended yesterday, we took many decisions that are aimed at ensuring a memorable national congress for our members.
This is also an important year because this baby that was born out of sweat of metalworkers from different metalworkers unions in 1987 will be turning 25 years old one month before the 9th National Congress.
NUMSA has contributed to our growth as people and revolutionaries.
It has contributed to the economy and economic policies of our country. We are proud indeed that NUMSA is a visible and known trade union even by ordinary people in our country.
We have remained a consistent and principled trade union that is not afraid to air its views to the public. We are not ashamed to talk about our democratic decisions.
We must really thank all comrades who worked for this union to be what it is today.
We are a proud affiliate of COSATU; we were formed in 1987 after a clear directive from the founding COSATU Congress for unions in similar sectors to merge into bigger unions.
Our COSATU has done a lot for us and our country. For the purposes of this launch, I would like to fast forward our federation’s contribution to the 2003 Congress that resolved on a resolution that we termed the 2015 plan.
For me and for many of us, this was a very important resolution of COSATU.
I think after analysing many changes that had happened from the Freedom Charter, Ready to Govern, the Reconstruction and Development Program, the GEAR policy; our federation resolved that our members must be politically conscious, they must build their organisations COSATU, ANC and SACP and be ready to confront the enemy of our people, which is capitalism.
It is capitalism that has plunged humanity into the poverty, unemployment and inequality.
The world has enough resources for all humankind to live comfortable.
To illustrate a point, whilst all of us are swimming in poverty that has been made worse by the 2008 global crisis of capitalism, the number of billionaires have been increasing instead of decreasing.
I think it will be important to pose a question, for me, this is a fundamental question.
If as COSATU members, we had implemented the 2015 plan accordingly, what would have happened in the policy front in our country, what would have happened to the quality of the leadership collectives of our Alliance partners?
To pose a more direct question, if we had put enough resources into the implementation of 2015, were we going to elect some butchers of the working class into the ANC NEC to lead the ANC with President Jacob Zuma?.
I have a view that says that if we had implemented the 2015 plan, our ‘hegemony’ was going to be felt even better for the working class and the poor.
In a report to 52nd Conference of the ANC, the then General Secretary of the ANC Cde Kgalema Mothlante said the following about the absence of political education in the liberation movement; “One of the paramount challenges facing the organisation is the task of improving the quality and political depth of our members.
The 51st National Conference resolved that "a coordinated and coherent programme of cadre development and empowerment should be elaborated and implemented for all the structures of the organisation, especially branches".
A number of provinces have established well functioning programmes of political schools, induction for branch and regional executives and other activities aim ed at building the quality of our membership.
The political education sub-committee of the NEC has, in line with the 51st National Conference Resolution, established a syllabus, curriculum and resource packs to support these activities.
However, despite the good work undertaken in some provinces, lack of resources and other challenges has meant that the political education, cadreship development and membership empowerment programmes have not realised the expectations of our last Conference.
In particular we have not succeeded in reaching the member ship with a systematic programme.
The incoming NEC must pay particular attention to the implementation of our resolution on the establishment of a political school, which has proven to be a perennial challenge mainly due to lack of resources”.
We now know that land has been found to build the school. We also know that Cde Tony Yengeni is responsible for political education.
This is not impressive in addressing a problem that was identified as a serious problem for the movement.
During this launch, you will get an opportunity to reflect on what is happening in your regions, the status of the alliance and preparations towards many important meetings this year.
Let me just share with you my own worries about what I observed in my ANC region and SACP District.
Comrades who raise legitimate questions about leadership processes are immediately put into a back-foot that they do not support President Zuma. It happened to me and I see it happening all the time in other provinces.
It is wrong and it must stop. The ANC is a democratic organisation; comrades must be free to build the ANC in their regions, for the benefit of the ANC, not individuals in those regions.
I am afraid the same thing happens in the South African Communist Party. I received a call from a convener of the district conference requesting t-shirts for the conference.
But then I never hear from him until after the conference.
I suspect he was told not to even confirm when the conference will take place, because I only heard after the conference that it has taken place.
I wrote a piece in the NUMSA Bulletin about what I termed ‘MTV1 and MTV2’, as an attempt to calm down the tensions that were there between COSATU and the SACP because for me the 2015 plan of COSATU and the MTV plan of our vanguard can be used to achieve hegemony for the working in the ANC and in society, including in government without compromising the independent and vanguard role of the South African Communist party.
I invite you to engage with those concrete proposals. We must unite the SACP. We must unite COSATU and we must unite the ANC.
Four affiliates of COSATU hosted a World Federation of Trade Unions Presidential Council.
It was successful and I hope it sent a message to Mail and Guardian that NUMSA and NEHAWU are not pre-occupied with who leads COSATU in September, but the working class agenda that must be pursued by COSATU including a thorough analysis of COSATU’s affiliation to global federations that are not working class oriented.
COSATU believes that problems of the world will be solved by the overthrow of capitalism and some global unions that we are affiliated to believe that capitalism can be given a human face.
Can it be given a human face?, does it have a human face?. Dear comrades, I want to tell you that as NUMSA, we are focused in delivering a successful NUMSA Congress and when the time is right we will talk about what happens in the COSATU Congress informed by our deep love of the unity of our federation and the unity of all the formations of the Alliance.
The ANC NEC has announced that all provinces of the ANC must complete their elective conferences before June 2012. This means another very important task.
The challenge we must discuss here is that the leadership discussion for Mangaung will only be discussed in October 2012.
We have an interest as the working class on the outcome of Mangaung 2012, but the current decisions takes us back to the earlier question about how we have implemented the 2015 plan.
Because if we had implemented 2015 plan accordingly, then this arrangement was not going to worry us because we will know that we will be part of the processes to the Provincial Conferences that will ultimately determine the working class biased NEC of the ANC in 2012.
It looks like once again, we will try and influence from outside our movement and it will not be easy because of the re-alignment of forces that have happened. Some people we were together with towards Polokwane started showing their true colours three years ago, they showed that they do not care about the working class, for them, it is about them but they will not mind to use the language of the working class to maintain their NEC positions.
I am raising all this important questions mindful of our Mini National Congress resolutions to support the leadership collective elected in Polokwane.
However, we have struggled to get some people in that collective to work with us in many working class biased resolutions of the 52nd Conference of the ANC.
I think we have a right to talk about that in our internal structures in particular now that we will go back to our provinces where leadership of provinces will be elected.
In July 2012, our vanguard will go to its Congress. We must work hard for the success of that Congress because the SACP is our insurance for the attainment of socialism in our lifetime.
There is a big difference between economic freedom and socialism.
The few like the billionaires I spoke about earlier have economic freedom whilst we swim in poverty.
In our country, we also have people who have economic freedom because they have accumulated in different methods but we believe it is socialism that we must strive for because it will deliver a better life for all.
There is a slim possibility for a better life for all under capitalism. It is therefore important to build socialism now because it is the future.
As NUMSA, we must not be worried about allegations that we are workerists and demagogues. We must remain consistent and principled on behalf of workers and the working class.
We dare not loose hope on our COSATU, ANC and SACP. We must build and strengthen our revolutionary alliance and our revolutionary unity.
22 February 2012
Numsa Press Release