What we must battle together - Zwelinzima Vavi

GS says COSATU and SACP must demand decent work for unemployed

COSATU General Secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi's message of solidarity to the SACP to the rally to celebrate the SACP 90th anniversary, July 31 2011

General Secretary of the SACP, Comrade Blade Nzimande,
Deputy General Secretary, Jeremy Cronin
National chairperson, Gwede Mantashe
Members of the Central Committee and leaders and activists of the SACP countrywide
President of the ANC, comrade Jacob Zuma
Members of the NEC and leaders and activists of the ANC
President of COSATU, comrade Sidumo Dlamini
Members of the CEC and leaders and activists of COSATU present here today
Leadership of SANCO, YCL, ANCWL, ANCYL, SASCO, COSAS and all the formations of the people's front
International guests joining these historic celebrations

Ladies and gentlemen

The Congress of South African Trade Unions on behalf of its more than 2 million members sends its congratulations and best wishes to the South African Communist Party as it reaches a new milestone today as it celebrates its 90th birthday.

COSATU and the Party of the Working Class are, have always been, and will always remain, staunch allies, fighting together, shoulder-to-shoulder and hand-in-hand in the trenches, to make a reality of our shared vision.

Throughout the forty underground years, the SACP forged strong links with the African National Congress and the SA Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU), which laid the foundations for the tripartite alliance which remains as strong as ever today, with SACTU's successor, COSATU.

Anniversaries are always a time for taking stock of the advances we have made and the setbacks we have faced in the struggle against national, gender and class oppression. How far have we travelled on the path that was set 90 years ago, and how much further do we still have to travel?

Despite much progress since 1994, for which SACP leaders like Moses Kotane, Moses Mabhida, Joe Slovo and Chris Hani must be given a lot of credit, 90 years after the establishment of the Communist Party, we are still a long way from achieving all the goals the SACP has set for itself.

The struggle against capitalism and for an equitable and democratic socialist society is as necessary as at any time in those 90 years. We still live in a nation with appalling levels of unemployment and poverty and are the most unequal society in the world.

Despite much progress by successive ANC governments, millions of poor South Africans lack the basic necessities of a civilised society - decent education and healthcare, proper houses, running water and sanitation and affordable public transport.

The Party, as the vanguard of the working class must lead us in the fight to transform the lives of the workers and the poor and to challenge the narrow and selfish interests of the rich big business elite.

As the SACP marches to its centenary, it must give resolute leadership to the struggle for better living conditions in the townships, rural areas and informal settlements and better wages and conditions for the workers. The Party should build on the legacy of the likes of Dora Tamana who led struggles against the threats of resettlement emanating from the apartheid government.

The vigour and commitment of comrades like Matthew Goniwe, a communist and a grassroots organiser par excellence, should inspire the Party in leading working class struggles in workplaces, communities and many other areas.

This 90th anniversary must inspire all of us into defending working class gains against a well-orchestrated capitalist offensive. COSATU and the Party must work together, and with our allies the ANC, to intensify the campaign to build a strong developmental state, which will take us ever closer to the socialist South Africa, we want to see.

We will not address all these challenge unless we defeat crime and corruption and the culture of self-enrichment, crass materialism, conspicuous consumption and the abuse of state power for narrow materialistic reasons. The SACP must lead us in the campaign against the new tendency that want to transform our congress movement and public service into a market place for tenders and business opportunities for a few and well connected elites.

We rely on the SACP leading us back to our movement's core values and principles - selflessness and sacrifice! Together let us end individualism that seeks to place narrow selfish individual interests above the common interests of the many.

The source of corruption is the capitalist system itself, which corrupts and tempts public representatives, and encourages the personal accumulation of wealth at the expense of the majority of the people. If we do not unite to eradicate this cancer from our society, corruption will become routine, and far from building socialism we shall be descending into a lawless, immoral world where the pursuit of personal wealth in the only motive force in society.

The lesson that runs through the history of the Party is that the only defence that we have against all forms of bourgeois attacks on the working class is mass power. Only the working class and mass campaigns can defend the party of socialism and its trade union ally from attacks waged on it by the bourgeoisie.

The next ten years must be dedicated to building and reviving mass working class campaigns and waging a relentless struggle against corruption, capitalism and imperialism.

COSATU's recent Central Committee has launched a number of campaigns, which we intend to pursue throughout this year and coming years. Hundreds of thousands of our members are already battling against employers, demanding a living wage and the closure of the apartheid wage gap.

Workers are already marching in the streets demanding a total ban of the labour brokers - those human traffickers who have enslaved millions of workers. Unless an agreement can be reached in Nedlac soon we shall start a mother of all general strikes starting in every province in September and culminating in a general strike on 7 October 2010, The International Day on Decent Work - if the coming COSATU CEC endorses this date or any other dates the CEC will determine.

We are relaunching our campaign against the scourge of corruption and we shall be marching in every street demanding that action be taken against corrupt elements that are hell bent on hijacking our movements for personal gain.

We want action taken to ensure that our country has water security and we deal with the threat of rising acid levels in our underground water.

We demand an inquiry on the prices of the private hospitals so that we end their immoral and corrupting greed, seeking to generate massive profits from our ill health. We shall demand the introduction of the national health insurance now!

We demand that Walmart agrees our demands so that its entry to our country does not lead to the destruction of our manufacturing sector and jobs. Unless we can find a solution with the department of transport, we shall be in the streets to demand public transport system that is efficient, reliable, affordable and accessible.

We are opposed to the commercialisation of our roads and reject the introduction of tollgates in Gauteng and other elitist projects such as Gautrain or the much talked about fast train between Durban to Johannesburg when many workers take up to an hour travelling between their homes and their workplaces.

Lastly and most importantly we demand decent work for the underemployed and the 7 million army of the unemployed workers. We, together with you our vanguard, must scale up our demand for the restructuring of the economy to end the domination of white monopoly capital and the mining/finance complex, and end its export orientation so that it can be placed on a new developmental path underpinned by an active industrial strategy capable of absorbing the millions who are unemployed.

Let us rally together to protect women and young workers across the economy from being exploited by unscrupulous employers in the retail, hospitality and service industries.

Let us battle together to end the historic super exploitation of farm workers and sea-going workers.

Let us organise the migrant workers into our ranks and end their super exploitation.

Let us battle together against xenophobia and unite all workers to stand in solidarity with one another irrespective of their narrow differences that are used to divide and rule them.

Let us together demand a better deal for the taxi drivers and all other vulnerable workers in the economy.

Let us together campaign to change the ethos of the public sector worker so that they see themselves not just as employees but as revolutionaries who appreciate that they must play a different role if our commitment to build a better life is to be realised.

For we know that it is through winning of all these demands that we can make a giant step towards realisation of the goals of the national democratic revolution that seeks to address all three inter-related and intertwined contradictions - the liberation of Black people and Africans in particular, ending the super-exploitation of workers and liberating women from their triple oppression. This is the only way we can make our slogan "socialism is a future; build it now" a living reality for the working class.

In you we know we have a reliable ally that we can rely on every day.

Forward to a strong SACP!

Forward to socialism!

Issued by COSATU, July 31 2011

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