Numsa President’s Speech In Curries Fountain Stadium On The Occassion Of The 25th Anniversary Rally On 03 June 2012.

National Office Bearers,
Central Committee members,
National Chairperson of the NUMSA Youth Desk,
National Chairperson of the Gender Substructure,
Alliance leaders present here,
Delegates to the 9th National Congress,
NUMSA Officials present here,
Comrades and friends,

It is an honour and privilege to get this opportunity to greet you on this important celebration of our 25 years anniversary on behalf of the National Office Bearers.

This is a union that was formed during the PW Botha State of Emergency which was one of the last kicks of the dying system of apartheid in our sad history in this country.

This giant was born because our founders had a vision.

Yes, the 1985 resolution of the COSATU founding Congress did add the impetus to the need for unions in the metal and engineering sectors to merge and form NUMSA.

Indeed our founders must be congratulated for achieving unity of almost seven smaller trade unions into the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa.

The vision of our founders was eloquently represented by our preamble, it reads as follows;
We, the members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, firmly commit ourselves to a united South Africa, free of oppression and economic exploitation.

We believe that this can only be achieved under the leadership of an organised and united working class. Our experience has taught us that to achieve this goal we must:

(a) fight and oppose discrimination in all its forms within the Union, the factories and in society;

(b) strive for maximum unity amongst organised metalworkers and organise every unorganised metalworker into our national industrial Union;

(c) ensure that all levels of our Union are democratically structured and controlled by the worker members themselves through elected worker committees;

(d) encourage democratic worker leadership and organisation in our factories and in all spheres of society;

(e) reinforce and encourage progressive international worker-to-worker contact so as to strengthen the worldwide society of metalworkers.

We call on all metalworkers that identify with these principles and aims to join us and the metalworkers we represent, as comrades in the struggle ahead. We call on all metalworkers to set aside any prejudices they may have and strive for unity under the guiding slogan of the international working class:
"From each according to their ability; to each according to their needs"

These preamble represent all what we are and clarifies what we are not as NUMSA. I urge each and every shopsteward and member to strive to memorize and internalize this preamble because it can arm every member to be able to clarify people who get tempted to call NUMSA, what it is not!

This preamble is adequate to demonstrate to those who care to found out that we are about:

• We are not workerists,

• We are not demagogues and

• We are not modern day Kadalies.

This is a worker controlled union that values its constitutional decisions and fight for their implementation. This is an affiliate of COSATU that values the existence of this mighty federation and will do all it can to champion its decisions. We call on people to take time to know and understand NUMSA.


It is days like this where we must thank our heroes and heroines who build this union. Hereunder is the short history of how NUMSA was built. I want to read to you because it is our history that must teach us where we come from in order to know where are going to on the eve of our 9th national congress.

“In May 1987, NUMSA was formed. It merged four different unions. These unions were:

• MAWU – Metal and Allied Workers Union

• MICWU – Motor Industry Combined Workers Union

• NAAWU – National Automobile and Allied Workers Union

• UMMAWOSA – United Metal, Mining and Allied Workers of South Africa

• Two different COSATU unions also gave their metal members to NUMSA:

• GAWU – General and Allied Workers Union

• TGWU – Transport and General Workers Union

For many years MICWU organised and represented workers in the motor industry: components manufacturing, body building, servicing, and petrol attendants. It started as a union for coloured workers in 1961 when laws forced unions to be divided along racial lines.

Its white sister union was part of TUCSA and so it too became a member.

But in 1984 MICWU left TUCSA because of the latter's racist and reactionary policies. After leaving TUCSA, MICWU joined the IMF (International Metalworkers Federation).

At the IMF, MICWU, MAWU and NAAWU became engaged in discussions to prevent the poaching of each other's membership in the component sector. These discussions led to the emergence of the idea of building one metal union.

MAWU was the first union formed in Durban from the General Factory Workers Benefit Fund.
Back then it was illegal for black workers to belong to a registered trade union so workers joined Benefit Funds – a cover for trade unions.

Thousands of workers joined the fund after the Durban strikes in 1972 and 1973. MAWU was formed in 1973, and the Transvaal branch in 1975.

MAWU was a founder member of the Trade Union Advisory and Co-ordinating Council (TUACC) formed in 1974 and of the Federation of South African Trade Unions (FOSATU) formed in 1979.

NAAWU was formed in 1980 from three unions in the motor assembly industry – NUMARWOSA , WPMAWU and UAW . NUMARWOSA and WPMAWU had been formed in the 1960s. NUMARWOSA had its base in the Eastern Cape around the auto assembly factories eg. Ford, General Motors and Volkswagen.

WPMAWU was a Western Cape union organising Leyland and Chrysler workers (both plants closed in the 1980s). The laws of the time forced them to organise only one “race” — so-called coloureds. Later NUMARWOSA set up its own parallel African union – UAW – and African membership grew.

NUMARWOSA and WPMAWU were affiliated to TUCSA but the racism and conservatism of TUCSA forced both unions out of TUCSA and to look at building another trade union federation that would unite all workers and be a force for change in South Africa. NUMARWOSA, WPMAWU and UAW were key players in pushing for the birth of the new federation of trade unions – FOSATU.

The new federation formed in 1979, brought these unions together with MAWU and talks of building a giant metalworkers union began. Dissatisfied members of NAAWU broke away in 1980 to form their own union – MACWUSA . Similarly, UMMAWOSA was a breakaway from MAWU, formed in 1983.

These splits were a great setback for metalworkers' unity, but NUMSA brought them back in to strengthen the unity of metalworkers.”

Dear comrades, I felt it was important to read each and every word from this section that explains where we come from because I want to thank, on behalf of the current generation of members, all the leaders of the different unions that are mentioned above who ensured the unity of metalworkers, despite the challenges.

It must borne in our minds that this was a unity of trade unions that came from different backgrounds. It is also important to mention the role of the International Metalworkers Federation is facilitating a discussion that started as a discussion about poaching of members that led to the realisation that a more strategic discussion was important which was about merging a forming a bigger metalworkers union.


We look back with absolute pride at the achievements and the contributions of NUMSA in the struggle against apartheid in our country.

We were formed during the State of Emergency in 1987. We elected Cde Moses Mayekiso who was in jail under the same State of Emergency. We were assisted by our sister unions in Europe to have an international Release Moses Mayekiso Campaign which attracted a lot of international attention to the last kicks of the dying horse, the apartheid government.

It is true that NUMSA had fierce debates about the future of this country and how to participate in the political terrain of our liberated South Africa. It is a fact that there were metalworkers who felt that a “WORKER’S PARTY” would have been a better platform for working class positions to be pursued after 1994 but the final decision was work with the African National Congress through the Tripartite Alliance.

As true believers in democratic centralism, NUMSA worked very hard within the structures of the ANC to attempt to change the situation of our people.

NUMSA also played a key role in the civic movement, with Cde Moses Mayekiso becoming a founding leader of SANCO together with the late comrades like SAM NTULI from Thokoza township in the East Rand in Gauteng.

Before the elections in 1994, there was widespread violence in the country as part of the apartheid government strategy to reverse an irreversible process that was in motion. NUMSA did not shy away from taking responsibility of defending it members who were brutalised in their communities by the IFP warlords that were sponsored to cause instability in communities and in trains to the workplaces.

We lost many members during the senseless violence and we must thank them for laying their lives in order for NUMSA to continue to grow and exist as a union that it has become today.

A sizeable number of NUMSA leaders, including Cde Moses Mayekiso, Cde John Gomomo, Cde Alec Erwin, Cde Mike Mabuyakhulu, Cde Danny Oliphant, Cde Enock Godongwane joined the ANC government in 1994 as deployed cadres of the ANC who were coming from NUMSA. We were honoured to have Cde Mike Mabuyakhulu and Cde Willies Mchunu gracing the book launch of the book on the history of NUMSA titled the “the metal that will not bend” that was written by Cde Kally Forrest.

I want to thank Cde Kally Forrest and Wits University Press for publishing this important history book for this generation and many more generations.

NUMSA prides itself for the role it played in the formation of industrial councils in our country. We do want to rightly claim that the current bargaining councils were the creation of the struggles that were started by MAWU in those days.

NUMSA prides itself for having contributed a great deal to the policy discussions that produced the Reconstruction and Development Policy. These we contributed through our federation, COSATU. The RDP was used as part of the manifesto of the ANC in 1994.

It is now in the history books that the RDP was dumped two years into democracy and a neo-liberal GEAR policy was adopted by our ANC government. The adoption of GEAR shaped the consistent stance of NUMSA and COSATU since its adoption.

COSATU, later joined by the SACP led huge campaigns to oppose the privatisation of State Owned Enterprises. We used every opportunity available to oppose the implementation of the GEAR policy.

It is therefore strange that some of the comrades that marched together with us against the impositions of the GEAR policy give us titles that makes us to look like enemies of our ANC government.

Our 9th National Congress that is starting tomorrow will engage on some of this matters.

Dear comrades,
I want to thank you, the current generation for continuing with the traditions of NUMSA. You are still a union that debates issues in a manner that involves all structures. You are a union that still believes and subscribes to democratic centralism.

You are union that still committed to the federation, COSATU and you still believe that the Tri-Partite Alliance is important but must be strengthened. You have always fought the demon of tribalism.

You have always fought the demon of racism and you are continuing to fight the demon of sexism and ageism.
You are still a campaigning union. The country is grappling with a role of the Reserve Bank today because of your campaigns.

You are striking union. The country is grappling with the issue of labour brokers today because of your campaigns where you achieved superior agreements about phasing out labour in your sectors.

Your have become a policy reservoir in the country for the left formations because you have invested a lot of resources into political education and policy development initiatives that proves that unless an alternative economic policy is pursued the triple crisis of unemployment, poverty and inequality shall remain.

You have recently launched the NUMSA ECONOMIC INSTITUTE that I am confident will grow to become a strong entity that can stand on the shoulders of NUMSA.

Comrades, I want to thank you for remaining steadfast behind your leadership when their name calling became the order of the day.

You remain a pillar in the campaigns of COSATU against E Tolling and Labour Brokers. I want to spend a minute here to respond to what Deputy President Motlante reportedly announced about the ANC being a non-governmental organisation that can be ignored.

I think this was very rich coming from a man who not long ago was on the receiving end of the government that was reducing the ruling party, the ANC into insignificance in the policy formulation in our country.

You have successfully mobilised for the defence of the Head Office of COSATU when the DA was attacking COSATU under the pretext of fighting for the Youth Wage Subsidy. Let me spend some time on explaining why COSATU is opposed to the current proposed Youth Wage Subsidy.

Firstly, it is important to mention that our ANC government has provided billions since 1998 through the Skills Development Levies to companies to absorb and train young people.

Today, we talk of lack of critical skills as a country because South African unpatriotic employers have not trained young people in numbers in order to ensure that when big projects like Kusile and Medupi takes place, we do not import skills from other countries.

Secondly, we have reasons to believe that these unpatriotic South African employers will use the subsidy to line their pockets and still don’t employ young people and where they do employ young people, they will use them to get rid of older employees who they allege are earning high salaries.

Thirdly, the problem of 72 percent of unemployed young people is too big a problem to be solved through a R5b wage subsidy. This huge problem requires a bigger response that require a government wide solutions that must involve amongst others the massive skills revolution for young people in our country, the reopening of the nursing colleges, the filling of all further education and training facilities, the adopting of a manufacturing biased industrial strategy etc

Fourthly, our government has given countless incentives to South African and Global Capital without disciplining them and we think just like Professor Vivek Chibber from New York University put it succinctly that all developmental states have two things in common, they gave incentives to capital to invest in manufactuting but incentives were coupled with disciplining capital at all times.

Fifthy, South Africa is not a federal state. The DA government in Western Cape does not have an Appropriation Act of its own and it cannot do an independent provincial budget and their cannot implement a Youth Wage Subsidy when it is still being discussed in NEDLAC.

Last but not least, it must be known that the ANC discussed the issue of youth unemployment in 2005. The ANC structures rejected it as a solution that can solve unemployment of young people.
COSATU is committed to finding a solution to youth unemployment, in fact we are the one that has been championing challenges of young people before the DA realised that it has reached a ceiling in terms of the current voting population.

It is now trying to win young people to their side using the youth wage subsidy in preparation for their ‘dream’ of becoming a party of government in 2019 in our country.

The frontal attack on Cde Zwelinzima Vavi by Helen Zille must be exposed as a calculated strategy to demoralise Vavi and COSATU as a constituency that has ensured the victory of the ANC against the DA in all previous elections.

Young people must be warned that Helen Zille only wants their votes in 2014 and 2019 and she does not care whether employers will use the Youth Wage Subsidy to promote the employment of young people and she has never cared whether Skills Development Levies were used to attract and train young people in our country.

The ANC has invited all South Africans to engage with their policy discussion documents. We have issued our own policy discussion documents.

We hope the structures of the movement will visit our website and interact with our proposals and those of the ANC to indeed investigate how we can ensure a working class biased second transition.

The leader of the Alliance is calling for a second transition and as the left axis of the Alliance, we must call for the second transition that is biased to the working class because when we analysed the first decade of democracy as the left axis of SACP and COSATU in the Alliance, we concluded that it belonged to the capitalist class.

Let us grab the opportunity provided by the ANC policy conference to ensure that the second decade of democracy shifts to the working class.

Former President of the Republic, FW De Klerk has come back to life as we celebrate 25 years in defence of the Constitution, in particular, the property rights, in the 1996 Constitution.

We want to remind him that NUMSA believes that the success or failure of what the ANC calls a second transition lies in the things that must be changed in the 1996 constitution. Asijiki ukuthi lomqulo womthethosisekelo wango 1996 kuzofanele ufakelwe izibuko uma sifuna ukwenza ngcono izimpilo zabantu.


I must use this platform to restate that metalworkers believe that the SACP is our vanguard and our insurance for the attainment of the Socialist Republic of South Africa. We remain confident that delegates to the SACP Congress will be seized with discussions that will seek to take us to a Socialist South Africa, nothing less than that ultimate goal.

We are interested a deeper discussion and analysis of the Medium Term Vision so that the vision may be strengthened. In a discussion, that will take place in our Congress, we think that the hegemony of the SACP can be improved by deepening the MTV implementation without compromising the independency of the SACP.

We have even contributed to a debate by proposing in a article in the NUMSA Bulletin an envisaged MTV2 where all deployed communists are supposed to account to a body of fulltime elected officials who are equipped with adequate capacity to guide all deployed communists and assist them to build socialism now because it is the future.


As we celebrate 25 years, COSATU must be praised for the role it has played in the formation of NUMSA and the role it continues to play today.

I urge metalworkers to approach this important congress with a sole view of ensuring that the federation of President Barayi emerges as a more coherent and united organisation of workers.

There are countless victories that COSATU has scored in its 27 years. However, as we approach the next Congress,we must be self critical. We must pose a frank question about whether we have implemented the 2015 plan that we adopted in 2003.

We remain with 3 years to 2015, what have we done and how have we performed against the goals that we set ourselves?

COSATU must continue to champion the campaign against labour brokers and e-tolling until we achieve the victory that we want. COSATU must continue to be our conscience as we grapple with the transition that seeks to deliver economic freedom to our people.


As we start our 9th National Congress tomorrow, I urge metalworkers to be united and pledge to work for unity of metalworkers for another 25 years until we are 50 years old.

As the preamble commands all of us, ‘let us put our prejudices aside and work for the unity of our union’

Let us work for the unity of our Alliance. The Alliance Summits must begin to meet again. I wish the African National Congress, a successful policy conference and national conference. I wish our vanguard, a succesfull congress in Ongoye university!

Happy Birthday NUMSA

I thank you!