South Africa: Cosatu Message to the ANC On Its 107th Anniversary

press release

COSATU is proud to be in an Alliance with this mass movement that has led our people for more than a century. The ANC is the oldest liberation movement in Africa, built on the foundations of protracted struggles against colonial domination. History will record that this giant organisation led a heroic and victorious national revolutionary struggle against colonial oppression and went on to overthrow apartheid, one of the worst racial tyrannies the world has ever seen.

We all need to take time on this occasion to remind ourselves that those victories were achieved at a heavy price, and therefore we need to honour the hundreds of martyrs, who sacrificed their lives to defeat the evil regime and abolish the wicked system of apartheid. We will never forget them and their sacrifices must be remembered forever.

The 107th anniversary takes place just months before the crucial elections. As we approach the next National General elections, the NEC needs to remember that the people of this country are yearning for a new beginning and they demand urgent practical solutions to their litany of problems. This cry therefore calls for a visionary, bold decisive and imaginative leadership that will fight bad ideas with new bold ideas and not with slogans and tired rhetoric. We hope that the ANC NEC will come up with inspired ideas and a clear message that will enthuse, unite and give hope to the people of South Africa.

The ANC needs to embrace and lead with modern ideas if it is to succeed in calming down the social ferment as a result of economic dislocation. It needs to do this while ensuring that no one is left behind and that some of these modern ideas with their so called technological 'solutions' are not imposed with little regard for local economies and cultures. Modern ideas and solutions should not bring more misery to those who are likely to be pushed aside by such developments.

The ANC cannot afford to succumb to anti intellectual red meat populism at a time when even our devalued education qualifications are leaving millions of graduates unemployed and job security is vanishing across the many sectors of the economy.

Old and failing economic ideas that are about worshiping the free market no matter the human costs can no longer be regarded as a solution. The Neoliberal developmental model of the 70s and 80s cannot be rehabilitated and presented as a new idea and solution.

The ANC NEC has a massive challenge of convincing the cynical and drowning working class that it is not some tiny cabal of apologists, whose agenda is to explain away the inequalities of the capitalist system, while at the same time pretending that poverty is something not connected with the normal workings of capitalism. An organisation that continues to present itself as the champion in the cause of social and economic justice cannot afford to ignore the inequities of a system that has condemned millions of people to lives of brute survival.

Organisationally, we expect the ANC to work hard to rid the organisation of factionalism and corruption that has threatened to liquidate the organisation and ultimately derail our revolution. We also expect the leadership collective to 'restore our Alliance and the entire mass democratic movement.

Average incomes have stagnated for over a decade and the recent moderate increases in growth rates have not translated into improved living conditions for the poor majority.

There is an urgent need to transform the structures of production and ownership through amongst other things developing anti-monopoly and anti-concentration policies, aimed at creating competitive markets, broadening ownership and participation by our people in the economy.

Monopoly pricing and other forms of rent-seeking and anti-competitive behaviour that inhibit the growth of small enterprises have to be eliminated if we are to create the necessary jobs.

Macroeconomic policies that impede economic growth, job creation and poverty eradication on a sustainable basis cannot endure any longer and the creation of a democratic developmental state that will implement the programme of economic transformation cannot be postponed indefinitely.

COSATU remains committed to the Tripartite Alliance and not for sentimental reasons but because we still believe that it has the capacity deliver on the dreams and the aspirations of the working class. The big challenge though is to make certain that the new government, led by Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa is not diverted from the course of progress by conservative interests. The federation, as always, will never drop its guard to defend the workers and the poor and will remain both an independent trade union federation and staunch ally of the ruling party.

We will keep striving to make the Alliance an even more effective political leadership structure, which, together with the broader mass democratic movement, will ensure mass participation in the continuing battle to resolve the outstanding challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

We wish the ANC a happy birthday and every success in the elections, and offer our enduring support to help achieve the goals of our revolution.

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