Address by Zwelinzima Vavi, Cosatu general secretary

The Cosatu general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, reminded Numsa delegates that 2012 is the year of congresses. Cosatu will hold a provincial congress and a national congress where leaders will be elected. People can already feel it.

Besides Cosatu’s elective congresses, the ANC will have a policy conference and an elective congress at the end of the year. The SACP will also hold its elective congress.

Vavi made it clear to the congress that he has not, and will never, campaign for anyone. He said that the work s person has done, or not done, will campaign for him or her to be re-elected to positions of power.

He reminded the congress that at the beginning of this year, our glorious movement celebrated its centenary.

There have also been 18 years of freedom since the first South African democratic election. As a movement, we have to step back and reflect on that period.

Vavi showed that South Africa has become a worse country in terms of poverty.

He said that 210-million people over the world have been affected by the global economic crises, and that 64-million have been pushed deeper into poverty. One million people had lost their jobs in South Africa.

He told us that in Spain, everybody expresses their disgust about the unemployment rate of 20%, while in Greece the unemployment rate is just over 10% – but that in South Africa the unemployment rate stands at 36%.

In this country, we don’t see poverty as statistics, we experience it. In the years to come, 25% of our people will not have a meal every day.

A United Nations Development Programme 2012 report says that 71% of the population, and 44% of workers, are living on R10 a day. Inequality has worsened to the point where 50% of the population live on 8% of the national income.

Vavi further told us that we can march for economic freedom in our lifetime, but that after 18 years of democracy the situation we face is poverty in our lifetime.

He added that there is a death of (left-wing) consciousness among too many of our political leaders, and that the reason is capitalism. Capital divides people in terms of income.

Too many of our shop stewards spend hours waiting for a panado in state hospitals, as they cannot afford to go to private hospitals.

There has to be a change in the mindset of the leadership of the ANC and SACP, for the sake of our members. Confidence in the DA is increasing, particularly regarding unemployment, mainly among the youth.

Once we were in charge of the city of Cape Town, but now this has gone because we are too busy scoring own goals.

The DA has the vote of 5% of our people in the townships because we have lost focus, which is very dangerous. We have to create a new society with new principles.

Campaigns are now more about “hands off” so and so, than on social economic issues such as unemployment and poverty.

Vavi told the congress that at the Mangaung conference of the ANC, Cosatu will not be part of a campaign for anyone, but will campaign for the Freedom Charter. Cosatu will focus on the return of our dignity in its totality.

Workers must be at the forefront, Vavi said. The ANC is a contested terrain, and that is the reason that we have a resolution to swell the ranks of the ANC and SACP.

As the working class, we celebrate that we have an ANC deputy president and secretary general that are products of the working class.

Numsa News