“We have a vision of South Africa in which black and white shall live together as equals in conditions of peace and prosperity…the fight for freedom must go on until it is won, until our country is free and happy and peaceful as part of the community of man, we cannot rest,” Oliver Reginald Tambo.
I write this article at a time when our revolutionary trade union of Mthuthuzeli Tom remains under constant attack. I felt that in analysing the current political climate and the political posture of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa it would be appropriate to quote the late O.R Tambo who was the longest serving president of our liberation movement the African National Congress.
19 years into our democratic dispensation South Africa has received the title of being the most unequal society on earth, yet as NUMSA we are called “populists”,”workerists”,”demagogues” etc. when we call for the implementation of the freedom charter in its entirety.
NUMSA remains a “red” and not a “yellow” trade union and we will not be intimidated by those who want to hijack the national democratic revolution and hand it over to the ruling class on a platter. We dare not let the sacrifices and struggle of O.R Tambo and others be in vain.
It is also significant that I write this article during women’s month. I cannot help but remember the life and times of the late Jabulile Ndlovu-a NUMSA shop steward, ANC cadre, UDF activist and community leader in Midlands, Pietermaritzburg.
Ndlovu was an outstanding example of the type of cadres we should aspire to be to take the national democratic revolution forward, particularly at a time when we are calling for a gender balance at all levels of our organizations leadership structures.
Her involvement in the struggle was not only limited to shopfloor struggles but she was also active in the liberation movement and in her community,having been an active member of the Imbali Youth Organization and the Imbali Civic Organization.
This great revolutionary was killed on her return from the NUMSA national congress held in Johannesburg. That congress was historic as it conferred Harry Themba Gwala as the distinguished title of “Honorary President of NUMSA.”
There are fundamental lessons we can draw from the late Mthuthuzeli Tom, O.R Tambo and Jabulile Ndlovu. These courageous and humble giants of our revolution must always serve as a reminder when today we who can live in relative peace become lazy, fear to speak the truth, refuse to carry out revolutionary work and weaken our trade union movement by constantly using the organization as a platform to advance our own narrow agenda’s rather than those of the working class masses!
Elton Gordon is Numsa-YF National deputy secretary