Numsa President’s opening address to the Numsa National Policy Workshop
12 November 2013
National Office Bearers,
Regional Office Bearers,
National Policy Workshop delegates,
NUMSA officials present here,
Comrades and friends,
Please allow me to greet you this morning on behalf of the National Office Bearers.
This NPW is taking place two days after millions of our people visited the polling stations to check their names on the voter’s roll and for those that were born after 1994, to register to vote for the first time in the coming elections. The right to vote was only achieved in 1994, lest we forget, in this country. Therefore universal suffrage is not a birthright for many people. It is a right that was achieved through the struggle and sacrifice of many people. I talk here of Vuyisile Mini, Jabu Ndlovu, Phineas Sibiya, Neil Agget, Sam Ntuli, Solomon Mahlangu and countless others.
I mention 1994 because I want to borrow from Che Guevara when he said the following;
“The road is long and full of difficulties. At times we lose our way and must turn back. At other times we go too fast and separate ourselves from the masses. Sometimes we go too slow and feel the hot breath of those treading at our heels. In our zeal as revolutionaries we try to move ahead as fast as possible, clearing the way. But we know we must draw our nourishment from the mass and that it can advance more rapidly only if we inspire it by our example”
I think the long road that has been travelled in our country since 1994 has been long and full of difficulties. It is also true that even the road between the June 2012 national congress of NUMSA where we reflected at length about the difficulties since 1994 and now has been long and with difficulties.
It is possible that in making sense of our difficulties we have lost our way or move too fast hence the Special Central Committee that met after we buried Cde Phil Bokaba felt that we must come back to draw nourishment from the masses.
We have worked hard since that decision, producing a number of discussion documents that assisted you in your Local Policy Workshops and Regional Policy Workshops. I want to stress that those were discussion documents to assist you to engage with the social and political chemistry in our country.
As NOBs, we felt that it is important to allow you enough space to be as broad as possible in engaging with the social and political chemistry guided of course by our location in this class divided society.
This important NPW is key in taking forward matters towards the Numsa Special National Congress, the discussions from your plant general meetings, local shop stewards councils, local policy workshops, regional policy workshops and now the National Policy Workshops. We anticipate that you have engaged and come to different conclusions on the discussion documents and this NPW provides a first platform at a national level to engage with these big issues facing the working class in our country.
It is our considered view that you will together with us, use this opportunity to further engage on these matters with a view of producing a more consolidated submission to the Special National Congress. Please use the day here to really engage with each other so that as you go back to your Regional Congresses, you are prepared and informed about what other regions think are solutions to contemporary challenges of the working class in society.
I want you to be patient with each other because to once again to borrow from Che Guevara who said; “The change in consciousness does not take place automatically, just as change in the economy does not take place automatically. The alterations are slow and not rhythmic; there are periods of acceleration, periods that are slower, and even retrogressions.”
In the corridors of our union, I have heard labelling that is not going to assist the debates. No labelling must paint people who hold certain views in a corner that is not going to take us forward. We are one united metalworkers union and these big, important issues must not make us lose sight of that important matter.
Let me end by declaring this NPW opened by reminding you of what Che Guevara also said that “the true revolutionary is guided by feelings of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality”
I love you metalworkers.