Zwelinzima Vavi’s address to the FAWU National Congress, BelaBela
22 August 2016
President of FAWU, Siphiwe Atwell Nazo,
General Secretary Katishi Masemola and all of the FAWU NOBs
Members of the National Executive Committee and all the Delegates
Distinguished guests from sister unions here and abroad
Ladies and Gentlemen
Comrades and friends
Thank you a million times for allowing me to address this auspicious and historic congress of FAWU. It is always a special privilege to be able to talk to the representatives of your union - now in its 75th year – whose leaders have included giants of the workers’ movement like Ray Alexander, Chris Dlamini, Liz Abrahams, Jay Naidoo, Elizabeth Mofokeng, Oscar Mpetha, Frances Baard and Neil Aggett.
I have attended most of FAWU's congresses since the formation of COSATU in 1985. But I have never attended one that is more historic or important than this one.
We live in interesting times! Dramatic and irreversible changes have taken place since your last congress held in 2011. My speech today will address these developments. I will have to skip some of the details, as it would take me about four days speaking if I was to include everything!
It is also a time of extreme hardship for millions of workers and thousands of your own members, particularly on the farms, where far too many employers still act as if apartheid had never ended.
Poverty pay, casualisation, exploitation and racism are widespread and even getting worse, as the job-loss bloodbath continues. Entire industries are in danger of disappearing. Unemployment at 36% is among the highest in the world, and employers have been quick to exploit the desperation of the unemployed to find or keep jobs at any cost in order to drive down wages and working conditions.
As well as outsourcing, casualisation of work and using labour brokers, the bosses are now waging a concerted campaign to sabotage collective bargaining structures and weaken the power of organised labour. Some, like Uber taxis, want to redefine all their workers as self-employed so-called ‘partners’, with no benefits or union rights.
Inequality is widening globally, but South Africa remains the worst in the world, and it is still blatantly racial as the gap gets wider between the white, super-rich capitalist elite and the black working class majority, women in particular, who remain even more firmly mired in poverty, hunger and squalid living conditions. Wealth is shifting further into the pockets of the white capitalists.
This widening inequality fosters a mood of growing anger and despair as the problems which the ANC keep promising to solve remain as bad as ever or get even worse. Community protests against the lack of basic services, corruption and unaccountable local officials have become so frequent that they rarely make the news headlines, except in traffic reports when they disrupt motorists travel plans!
This is all aggravated by the unchecked explosion of maladministration, corruption and theft of our wealth not just by a few rogue families but the entire capitalist class and their political allies in the ANC, DA and other political parties. It is not just President Jacob Zuma and the Guptas who are plundering the wealth created by our labour, but the entire corrupt capitalist system of which they are part.
More and more reports are leaking out revealing systematic tax evasion and money-laundering by big business. Millions of rands are disappearing from the country as investors put their cash where they will make the quickest and biggest profits, with no regard for the welfare of the people, the environmental price and least of all the conditions of their workers who produce the wealth in the first place. Big business is sitting on R1, 5 trillion in the banks and it blames this investment strike on ‘uncertainty’.
These are all the real reasons for the decline in the ANC vote and the record high number of abstentions on 3 August. Although it is still the biggest party, the ANC’s vote dropped from 62.9% in 2011 to 54.4%.
In the biggest cities the ANC suffered humiliation, failing to win a majority in one after another. A small section of the working-class voters registered their anger at the levels of poverty, unemployment, inequality and corruption by voting for the EFF and some, unfortunately, for their class enemies in the DA, or by refusing to vote at all.
The fact that so many people have disengaged from election politics is really very worrying, as it suggests people have lost hope or are angry, especially with the ANC. About 20 million adults of voting age did not participate in the elections – that is from a total voting age population of 36 million. That means more people didn’t vote than the numbers who did.
ANC leaders however seem to have learned nothing from this setback and are in complete denial. They fail to see the clear link between voters’ anger and their government’s abandonment of the Freedom Charter, which they still talk about but in reality have largely abandoned in favour of neoliberal economic policies - first GEAR and now the National Development Plan - which have handed control of key policies to the IMF, World Bank, credit rating agencies and their allies in the National Treasury.
The election results are now leading to coalitions, but sadly these will not be formed on the basis of political principles but on struggles by some of the leaders of minority parties to get their hands on official positions and public resources. I hold faint hope that this will lead to any real improvement in the lives of the working class and the poor. The DA in particular, as it has shown in Cape Town, is still the party of the big business and the white middle class.
I would now like to turn to the state of the trade union movement. One thing on which we can all agree is that a strong, militant workers’ organisation is as necessary now as never before, given the combination of the employers’ offensive and the mushrooming of casualisation and the burgeoning army of vulnerable, marginalised, often isolated workers, in particular the unorganised workers who make up 76% of the labour force.
Many of these workers in the most vulnerable sectors are in the greatest need of a strong trade union. Millions of informal workers - those employed by labour brokers, part-time and casual workers who have no permanent employer or workplace - are unprotected and subject to harassment, evictions and confiscations.
These workers are desperate for the services which the unions ought to be providing, the opportunity to unite with other workers in more traditional sectors and a political programme to show the way forward to a new, socialist society in which workers will be free from the poverty, exploitation and oppression they suffer now.
That is what COSATU was originally set up to provide, and for many years it was indeed one of the most militant and powerful workers’ federation anywhere in the world.
Tragically it is now not even a shadow of its former self and has become little more than a labour desk for the ANC government, whose neoliberal policies are the source of the very attacks we are facing. Whatever excuses they continue to make up, the expulsion of NUMSA and my dismissal were political – evidence that they can no longer tolerate those who insist that the federation should remain true to its founding principles.
In addition leaders of some COSATU affiliated unions are facing serious charges of embezzling their members’ money. A number of unions are split down the middle and one has failed to hold national congresses for years.
Affiliates of COSATU are hardly in attendance at meetings of national committees, leaving planning and decision making for critical campaigns and activities in the hands of COSATU officials – contrary to the core principle of workers’ control. The opportunity for a militant campaign around the National Minimum Wage has been sacrificed in favour of wasting time in the Central Executive Committee on defending President Zuma.
Before I speak about the changes that have taken place in more detail, let me tell you this. If any of you had said in your 2011 Congress that all of this would happen by 2016, you would have been written off as a prophet of doom.
Amongst the changes that have taken place since your 2011 National Congress are the following:-
1. COSATU has imploded – the CEC, or just 34 of its members, dismissed 340 000 members of NUMSA members for purely political reasons. SADTU disbanded its whole PEC and purged or disbanded others regions. SAMWU literally now has two NECs, and this is after it dismissed 186 of its national, provincial, regional and branch leaders and officials. NUM is no longer the biggest affiliate of COSATU. It has been overtaken by the public sector unions and is now smaller than AMCU, a union led by its former shop steward, Joseph Mathunjwa. SATAWU has completely imploded and has lost its status as the biggest transport union in Transnet. CEPPWAWU has not held a congress or any constitutionally quorating NEC for years. The list goes on.
2. Who would have thought that the police could open fire, using automatic rifles killing 34 mine workers on strike to back their demands for a living wage?
3. Today there are 186 registered unions in South African and a total of about 600 unions exist. Ironically the more our unions multiply through fragmentation, the more the numbers of workers who do not belong to any union seems to grow. As we speak 76% of workers do not belong to any union.
4. COSATU once the most powerful union in the continent and the fastest growing union movement in the world with 2.2 million members has now lost hundreds of thousands of its members either through purges or just sheer neglect of members' needs.
5. These days employers set 54% of all wages without any negotiations with workers, either with their union or bilaterally. Only 9% of wages are set through centralised bargaining structures, while another 23% of wages are set through negotiations between individual companies and unions. A whopping 10% of workers do not receive any regular increases.
6. Wages of workers have stagnated to the point that by 2014, workers median salary was R3200. This means that half of all workers earn less than R3200 a month. Can you imagine one of your bosses trying to live on that?
7. The share of wages in the national income (GDP) has continued to plummet and is now well below 50% from 57% in 1991. A drop in the wages share means that the profit share for the bosses has increased.
8. Income inequalities are now on record levels. South Africa has become the most unequal society in the world.
9. More jobs have been shed. In the last three months of 2015 alone 21,000 manufacturing jobs were lost, with another 80,000 gone in the first three months of this year. That's over 100,000 manufacturing jobs gone in six months! A large number of these were in food processing, including in grain milling, starch processing, and animal feed. The picture in agriculture is similar, and has been made worse by the drought. In six months from October 2015 to March 2016 we lost 21,000 farm worker jobs, mostly in the Western Cape and Limpopo. And we know that more and more farm worker jobs have become casualised or seasonal, so many of the remaining 870,000 jobs are very insecure and low paid.
10. Unemployment is at record levels with 8.9 million unable to find job opportunities. This is 36, 4% - more than one out of every three adults of working age nationally. But this catastrophe is much higher in the townships and rural towns.
11. The economy has stagnated further. It shrank by 2.5% in the first quarter of this year, and we may already be in a recession.
12. According to StatsSA a staggering 54% of our population lives in poverty. In fact according to the National Minimum Wage Research Institute the real figure closer to 63%, considering the fact that a person with 5 dependents requires an income of R5400 to just survive. What poverty means is that 13 million people in this country go to bed every day without food, and another 14 million face hunger at some point in the month.
13. Politically we have been on a roller coaster:
- The ANCYL was imploded by its mother body to address its militancy. Its NEC, PEC, REC and even some BEC were disbanded for the purpose of domesticating and hollowing it out. As a result of the actions, today a new political party called EFF exists.
- The ANCWL has itself been domesticated and is not regarded as a friend of genuine gender struggles.
- The SACP has amended its constitution to allow its principal leader, the General Secretary, to serve in the Cabinet whilst retaining his position. Every leader of note except a Second Deputy General Secretary serves and is paid by the legislatures. Every failure of the neoliberal policies pursued by government has therefore discredited the SACP leadership.
- The ANC itself has embraced neoliberalism and moved from GEAR to the NDP - in the process embracing market oriented solutions including privatisation, commodification of basic services etc.
- The ANC has fully embraced austerity measures. During what we called the 1996 class project of Thabo Mbeki government expenditure was 13, 5% above inflation by 2008. As we speak the government of our so-called Polokwane moment, the expenditure has fallen to 1, 3% above inflation in the 2015/16 financial year. That does not consider the population growth of 1, 7% a year. Per person then, government spending is actually going down.
- Almost of every state-owned enterprise is in crisis. There is a common theme in all the crisis the appointment of people linked to the President and Gupta family that has grown so powerfully since your congress.
- Under the leadership of President Zuma and the new NEC which we celebrated as heralding a new beginning in the politics of the alliance, the ANC has staggered from one crisis to the next.
14. In the 2014 elections the ANC support was reduced to 62% and around 54% in the economic hub of Gauteng. In the 2016 elections the ANC support was further reduced to 54% nationally and in the process gained below 50% in all metropolitans except in Durban where it is just 6% away from a coalition government.
So what happened comrades – how did we arrive at this point – how could it be that the movement FAWU gave birth to - COSATU - has been reduced to a shadow of its former self?
Let me use few lines from the 9 plus analysis of the implosion of COSATU. We have rejected the superficial and misleading explanations that the crippling paralysis in COSATU is because: COSATU General Secretary, comrade Zwelinzima Vavi has fallen out with a pro-Zuma leadership faction inside COSATU, and that he is himself supported by the anti-Zuma faction. This is arguably the most publicly punted explanation for the crisis in COSATU by the media and in many instances said to be supplied by its faceless “reliable sources”.
Whist these superficial explanations may contain some elements of truth, they really go no deeper than describing symptoms of much deeper underlying class contradictions in the Liberation Movement itself and in its formations, including COSATU. These superficial explanations fail to offer us the insights needed to fully understand the basis and causes of the crisis in COSATU and cannot assist us to advance appropriate solutions to the crisis.
The real basis of the crisis in COSATU is the complex and contradictory class relationships which it finds itself having to deal with, on a daily basis, in the multi--class and un-restructured ANC led Alliance, to which it belongs.
The second basis is the failure of the liberation movement as a whole, to resolve national oppression, class exploitation and the triple oppression facing women post 1994, and letting the Black and African capitalists in the liberation movement win the day on the policy front.
As a result of this, the colonial and capitalist mode of production and its social relations has been strengthened in South Africa, thus worsening unemployment, mass poverty and extreme inequality.
Therefore all those leaders of COSATU and its affiliates who are fighting to preserve a socialist-oriented, militant, transformative, anti-imperialist, democratic, worker controlled, anti-racist, and non-sexist Federation on the one side, and the so called anti-Vavi forces on the other side, must be understood as representing specific class interests and positions. The two sides are proxies of the ongoing class struggle in South Africa in general and in COSATU itself.
The crisis in COSATU must be understood as reflecting the contradictions between those leaders in COSATU who have been won over to the side of the defenders of a neo-liberal South African capitalism under the guise of taking responsibility for the National Democratic Revolution and those who are determined to continue to pursue a radical NDR and the struggle for socialism as the only viable solution to the national, gender and class questions in South Africa and the world.
The political theorist Antonio Gramsci described the phenomenon of capitalist crisis thus: The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born. In this interregnum a great variety of morbid systems appear” (from the selection from prison notebooks)
The “morbid symptoms” that Gramsci was talking about are manifesting themselves in South Africa in the following: -
1. The emergence of powerful interests in our political movement and in society as a whole, which are resisting a radical forward movement. Their interests have found expression in the National Development Plan and the lack of progress in the implementation of the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP)
2. The rise in the a predatory elite, which focuses on using criminal and semi-criminal means to advance an accumulation agenda through abuse of access to state resources and contracts. Corruption and tender fraud are the most obvious manifestations.
3. If we do not succeed to stop this, a danger exist that we will move towards a failed state and a society where there is no accountability, run by kleptocracy, driven by a particular brand of predatory and parasitic capitalism.
4. The implosion, blunting and domestication of COSATU and the ANCYL, the working class axis that historically propelled the movement forward.
5. The efforts to domesticate the organs of peoples power have been extended to other important institutions of democracy as witnessed by the turmoil created at the NPA, intelligence services, SAPS and SARS.
6. State-owned enterprises have also found themselves impacted upon by the agenda to domesticate institutions. The turmoil of suspensions and management crisis has visited PetroSA, SAA, Eskom, SABC, Post Office, etc.
7. The continued protection from public scrutiny and debate of the holy cows of monetary and fiscal policy, and financial regulation.
8. Stalemates on critical areas of society policy including National Health Insurance, comprehensive social security system.
9. Crisis in delivery of the two most basic social services – health-care and education
10. Rising levels of both white-collar and violent crimes including the rise of xenophobia as the working class turns in on itself and against the most vulnerable, as it competes for scarce resources.
11. The tightening of immigration controls by the state as it seeks to reinforce a conservative message that seeks to scapegoat undocumented migrants.
12. Service delivery protests that are not coordinated but spontaneous response of communities to neglect and deepening marginalization of the poor. The free fall of many small rural towns has become the face of the triple crisis of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
The impact of the crisis and accompanying political paralysis on COSATU's programmes and activities
We should not be at all surprised that the class battle over the resolution of the economic and social crisis has impacted on the internal life of not only COSATU, but also of the ANC (particularly its Leagues) and the SACP. Neither should we be surprised that interests within the political formations have taken positions on the COSATU crisis. We should also not be surprised that the Alliance has never functioned in line with COSATU National Congress resolutions, primarily because of a lack of agreement on strategic direction including on how the persistent triple crisis of poverty, unemployment and inequalities should be resolved.
Our focus here is less on the political formations and on the Alliance than on COSATU itself.
Above all, the divisions within the COSATU CEC and amongst the COSATU National Office Bearers are a reflection of the on-going contestation over how the current economic crisis should be resolved.
Some specific indicators of the paralysis in COSATU
I have made number of general points about the impact of the "morbid symptoms". More specifically within COSATU, we were unable to implement a range of mandates of the 11thCongress and the Collective Bargaining Conference of 2013.
Broadly, the 11th Congress mandate was structured around four pillars, which were:
1. Abolition of the apartheid wage structure and forward to a living wage
2. Radical Socio-Economic Transformation: The People Shall Share in the Country’s Wealth
3. Build Strong Worker-Controlled Unions: Organise Or Starve!
4. Creating Our Own Lula Moment: Driving The Second Phase Of Our Transition
All these directives fell by the wayside so that the status quo prevails.
The purging of NUMSA and of the COSATU General Secretary
1. A faction coalesced around an anti COSATU General Secretary sentiment on the eve of the 11th COSATU Congress. This faction was unhappy with the Secretariat Report to the Congress, which it felt was being too critical of both COSATU weaknesses, the Alliance and the Government. The criticism was despite the fact that the CEC and Affiliates participated in making inputs to the Report in the preparation stage, and that the CEC signed off on the Report.
2. Having not succeeded in suppressing the Report on the Congress floor or getting the COSATU General Secretary not to be elected, this faction decided to take the fight to the media and Central Executive Committee as a small leadership structure. Countless allegations were made of corruption against the General Secretary in public and at the CEC, but no evidence ever produced by the faction.
3. The faction did not hide its agenda when its primary spokesperson, the then NEHAWU General Secretary, pronounced in the CEC that they (the faction) have made a calculation that come what may, both NUMSA and the COSATU General Secretary must be surgically removed from the Federation. He acknowledged that while this would create more disunity, and even possibly a split, it would be worth it in order to build COSATU afresh. He made it clear that the faction was prepared to live with any of the consequences. This sentiment was repeated by Fikile Majola in an interview with the Sowetan published on 25th March 2014, in which he is quoted as saying “a split in COSATU is unavoidable…….We are far down the road. I don’t think it can be stopped. The person at the centre of the crisis is Zwelinzima and he does not want to find a solution…..We can re-establish COSATU on correct principles, build a strong COSATU that can direct its affiliates. But we cannot do it with those who say Vavi or nothing.” (pg. 4 of Sowetan 25 March 2014).
4. Of course the purging came to pass. NUMSA was dismissed on the 07 November 2014 together with all of its now 365 000 members. Convenient and misleading reasons for the expulsion have been advanced (largely related to decisions taken by NUMSA at its Special Congress in December 2013), with no reference to the premeditated nature of the expulsion, stemming back to the CEC of February 2013, some ten months before NUMSA Special National Congress.
5. The COSATU General Secretary was also dismissed without a hearing for refusing to attend the CEC when 365 000 workers have been dismissed and when 7 COSATU affiliated unions have announced that they cannot attend the meeting unless NUMSA is reinstated.
6. Interventions such as by the ANC Task Team, COSATU former leaders including a facilitating team appointed by the CEC itself came to nothing as the faction pursued its agenda to the end.
7. What has happened therefore is a split planned and pursued by a faction with clear support of the SACP leadership. The split is happening on the terms of this CEC majority behind the members’ back. The purging of dissenting voices or “opponents” has extended to within POPCRU, SADTU, SAMWU, NUM and SATAWU.
Can COSATU be saved? Did we perhaps not try hard enough?
When the writing was on the wall that a faction was pursuing the agenda to purge NUMSA and the General Secretary, whilst allowing some affiliates to be paralysed and to also embark on their own purges, the 9 COSATU affiliates called for the convening of the National Congress that could take us back to the implementation of the 11th National Congress resolutions. This group called itself the "nine plus" meaning nine affiliates plus supporters in many other affiliates.
This happened alongside other interventions by the former COSATU leaders led by comrade Sydney Mufamadi, the founding Assistant General Secretary of COSATU, a COSATU appointed team that was meant to facilitate unity and cohesion – Petrus Mashishi, Charles Nupen and SizweNtsalubaGobodo and later the ANC task team that included its Deputy President and Secretary General. All these were frustrated by the dominant CEC faction which clearly had a different mandate from the dominant ANC faction and the SACP to pursue a COSATU split at all costs.
When after a long process to frustrate even the constitutionally allowed right of a third of the unions to convene a congress, the leadership of the dominant faction used every trick and loophole in the constitution to frustrate the right of this one third.
Again let me use the statements issued by the 9 plus unions to analyse how the congress and COSATU itself was stolen from the workers.
“The agenda to build unity inside COSATU or to get COSATU to drive unity with other unions and federations and independent unions has been defeated. What used to be proudly called the Workers’ Parliament was a rigged shambles, where leaders and largely handpicked delegates silenced any independent voices and elected a leadership which will ensure that COSATU remains a labour desk for government and the ruling party, and which pays no more than lip service to the interests of the workers who elected them.
We salute the bravery of FAWU and SACCAWU who once again fought very hard to knock sense to the dominant leadership faction to no avail.
The “normal Congress confirmed the correctness of our verdict on the outcome of the shocking Special National Congress (SNC) in July 2015, that “COSATU has been stolen by the state… - rigged by the Federation’s leadership in order to crush workers’ right to express their views and to force through decisions which we believe are killing the mighty federation of Elijah Barayi.”
In some respects the ‘normal’ Congress was even more shocking than the Special National Congress, by blatantly flouting COSATU’s own constitution:
1. Two of its former and re-elected office bearers, Tyotyo James and Zingiswa Losi, were ineligible for election, as neither complied with the requirement that they must have been elected as shop stewards in their workplaces.
2. A new ‘union’, LIMUSA, was unconstitutionally accepted as an affiliate despite not meeting the necessary every condition for this prescribed in the constitution.
3. Unions’ membership figures, on which the size of their delegations were calculated, were not verified to ascertain their correctness in line with clause 3.2.4 of the COSATU constitution and the principle of paid up membership. Instead unions were allowed to claim membership largely based on 2012 figures despite clear evidence that many of these affiliates have suffered big membership losses over the last three years as a result of thousands of members being purged, retrenched or leaving to join a rising stream of breakaway unions.
More shockingly and worryingly is the Independent Electoral Commission wittingly and unashamedly agreeing to put its own credibility and standing on the line by effectively endorsing what was clearly an undemocratic election:
a) The IEC allowed Tyotyo James to chair a session in which he was so directly conflicted. Tyotyo James took the opportunity to drive the meeting in a direction that will benefit him and his NOBs colleagues.
b) The IEC allowed a vote through a show of hands. The fact that this is allowed in the constitution does not absolve the IEC from ensuring that it protects its own reputation. As said above once more, delegates were asked to stand if they support a motion and sit down if they disagreed. This allowed an open intimidation of delegates, which the IEC is now an accomplice to. COSATU constitution does not end only at the point where the meeting must decide on whether to vote through a show of hands or not. IEC did not ensure the observance of the constitution that states:
11.4.5 At all meetings where there are more than 50 participants, votes must be counted by scrutinisers who: –
18.104.22.168. Must be appointed by the meeting; and
22.214.171.124. Must record the votes and report the results to the Chairperson.
c) In the presence of the IEC entrusted with COSATU Congress' entire elections process, Tyotyo James again was allowed to chair over his and his NOBs colleagues nominations and related processes, with the IEC under processes dereliction its responsibility whilst Tyotyo James was by default allowed to assume such responsibilities: notwithstanding his vested interest hence arrogance to defend such interests no matter what. The same IEC refused a request by FAWU and SACCAWU for reopening the nominations from the floor as is the practice and decided to give over to Tyotyo to impose a vote through a show of hands votes that reinforced the position of him and his NOBs colleagues as duly elected - by default though.
When delegates from FAWU and SACCAWU bravely rose to oppose the credentials report in order to rectify these breaches of the constitution, 1st Deputy President, Tyotyo James, despite himself being one of those whose legitimacy was being contested, called a vote on a show of hands, another practice first used at the Special National Congress.
Once again delegates who might have disagreed with their union’s view had to stand on chairs in this unfair and intimidatory method of counting votes and were force to ‘legitimise’ this deviation from the constitution.
There was a similar travesty when the Congress ‘debated’ the expulsion of NUMSA and Zwelinzima Vavi. It was a foregone conclusion, which fully vindicated their decision not to appeal. Despite a courageous effort by FAWU and SACCAWU to raise all the arguments against the expulsion of 340 000 members, they were totally ignored and the decision to expel was bulldozed through the Congress through a vote that showed that less than half of the delegates actually participated in the farce. We reiterate what we have been saying for the past three years: there can be no unity to the exclusion of NUMSA now 380 000 members, there can be no unity with the exclusion of other purged members now represented by DEMAWUSA, MATUSA, SAPSU, NTM, FUWO, many others who have been resigning from the unions in despair.”
It was only after this assessment that the 9 plus unions made a call that the Workers Summit be amended to reflect a discussion on the formation of a new federation.
A Workers Summit has since been held at the end of April where 9 principles that would help us build a new federation were agreed upon. These principles include that affiliated unions must be independent from the employers and political parties but must not be apolitical. And that affiliated unions must be truly be democratic and worker controlled not through congress declarations but through daily practises.
I know this congress must now consider this recent history and decide on the way forward.
My honest view comrades is that with this detail presented there can be no turning back from where we are. FAWU can't go back to COSATU because there is no COSATU to go back to. They have killed the Federation of Elijah Barayi, Jay Naidoo, Liz Abrahams, Oscar Mpetha, and Ray Alexander. What exist now is the Federation of Sidumo Dlamini, Michael Makwayiba, Lieutenant General Zizamele Cebekhulu and Mugwena Maluleke. There is one thing they all have in common. There were not there when COSATU was formed. They have nothing to show in terms of their own involvement in a struggle against apartheid and its bosses. In fact some of the today’s leaders collaborated with that system declared a crime against humanity.
I may also add there is no tripartite alliance of independent organisations that exist capable of driving a revolution. There is no vanguard for a struggle for socialism. There is hardly any ANC that is truly working-class-biased pursuing a radical change in line with the Freedom Charter demand that says wealth and land shall be shared.
So I urge you to take careful consideration of all I have raised today. We must not lose hope. We must be brave. It is time to forge a new path to rebuilding the power and strength of the working class, in its fight back against poverty and exploitation. It is time to reach out to all unorganised workers, whether they are permanent or casual, formal or informal. We need to go back to the basics of organising and servicing, but with new insights and understandings of what solidarity amongst workers means. Amongst other challenges, you as FAWU have a massive challenge ahead to organise farm workers across South Africa. You need to think about what kind of real solidarity and support you need from other organised workers in order to achieve this.
Issued by Zwelinzima Vavi, 22 August 2016