Speech delivered by the President of COSATU, Comrade Sidumo Dlamini at the meeting of NUM Youth Forum on the 24th April 2015, at Boksburg
24 April 2015
Please accept revolutionary greetings from your fighting Federation, COSATU.
As you are all aware that the Federation is currently going through some challenges, which like all challenges in the life of an organisation will pass and COSATU will emerge even stronger.
But all that will depend on what we consciously do every day to tackle these challenges.
So today, I don’t want to be short but I would like to have more time to raise issues.
We are observing that our class enemies are jumping up and down celebrating the challenges we are going through.
There are many others who see these challenges as an opportunity for them to benefit as individuals for their selfish interests.
We are observing with great interests some personalities, who are coming from our ranks who want to cash out from these challenges by presenting themselves as super-heroes that have all the solutions and they whip our emotions and mobilise us to follow them to their own promised land.
They create problems in the organisation, including bankrupting the organisation through contracts made with some service provider which costs us almost R10 million a year and then go out to whip the emotions of the unsuspecting membership and the public that were had no money.
No comrades, we can report that despite the challenges but we continue to do organisational work and we have consistently paid our staff members as we have done today.
Our detractors think that the struggle is won by just being angry and ventilating emotions.
No, whilst anger may be important but anger alone will never make you win war.
Comrade Mandela once wrote in a leaflet produced in May 1963 which was dealing with the mistakes of recklessness and adventurism in the liberation struggle.
Among other important and striking things said in that leaflet is that “the struggle that will free us is a long, hard job.
He continued and said “do not be deceived by men who talk big with no thought for tomorrow.
Freedom is not just a matter of strong words.
Neither is it simply brave men and heroic deeds. Impatience, which makes men lose their heads, will not bring freedom. ....we are all impatient, thirsty for freedom. But impatience alone leads to recklessness, and recklessness can lose us the battle.”
If we read the documents of the movement carefully, you will see that this understanding about the need for well thought out process gets carried through in our strategy and tactics which is based on the Marxist- Leninist principles.
It is when I read this leaflet that I realised the extent to which our fore-bearers have put an emphasis on sober and scientific approach to matters of the struggle.
This approach was later carried through when the strategy and tactics was developed in the 1969 Morogoro Conference where it said that “The art of revolutionary leadership consists in providing leadership to the masses and not just to its most advanced elements; it consists of setting a pace which accords with objective conditions and the real possibilities at hand.
The revolutionary-sounding phrase does not always reflect revolutionary policy, and revolutionary-sounding policy is not always the spring-board for revolutionary advance.
Indeed what appears to be "militant" and "revolutionary" can often be counter-revolutionary. It is surely a question of whether, in the given concrete situation, the course or policy advocated will aid or impede the prospects of the conquest of power”.
I am referring to all these writings comrades to make a point that as COSATU, we currently should not be guided by our emotions but the science of conducting the struggle.
I am raising all this because I am aware that I am speaking to the youth and you are the future of COSATU.
It is you who must stand up and defend COSATU.
It is you who must generate new ideas and a new set of activities to build this Federation of Elijah Barayi, John Gomomo and Violet Seboni.
But I also raise these things because I am aware that those, who are attacking COSATU are likely to use the youthful membership of COSATU as a point of entry as they seek to destroy COSATU or to impose their views to redirect the federation to a new course which goes against what COSATU was formed for in the first place.
As the document presented at the 1985 ANC Kabwe Conference puts it that historically youth has become prey to demagogues and can easily be swayed into positions that are counter to their interests.
Thus a young worker could seek false comfort by abstaining from class battles or even by joining the exploiter`s state machinery.
Seldom, young people are enticed en masse to adopt social and cultural value systems alien to their interests.
The reason is not because the youth is not clever or cannot see through the lies. But is because by their nature youth is that section of the population who are avidly searching for a rational understanding of the surrounding world and therefore displays curiosity, rebelliousness, impassioned and uncontrolled enthusiasms and quickly forms judgements as it abandons others.
Everyone who wants to succeed in a war effort wants to tap from the energy, the ideas and time from the youth.
History has taught us that all societies in general and classes in particular, pay special attention to the youth.
For any people or class to shirk this responsibility is to do great harm to itself.
This applies particularly to peoples struggling to break the shackles of oppression and exploitation.
No revolution can be victorious without the effective education, organisation and mobilisation of the youth into political action.
It is none other than the youth (especially the working youth) who form the core of the `political` and `military` armies of the revolution.
Their youthful energy enables them to perform great feats in the theatre of battle; their vigour enables them to be the most active transmitters of ideas and skills; their zeal spreads into their surroundings like wild-fire.
Having said all this comrades, I want to declare that I am coming here not as a neutral person but to tell you that COSATU needs you as we go through these challenges.
We want your ideas, your energy and your time and we are making a call that you should make yourself available to defend your Federation.
This is the only instrument of war in the hands of the workers to advance against our class enemies.
We are aware that already the NUM is leading a serious offensive on the social media against those, who uses the social media to attack COSATU.
We are also aware that they have blocked NUM tweets because you have consistently exposed every single lie which was being used to attack the Federation.
We now want to see NUM youth mobilising activities on the streets working together with other youth formations such as the YCL, the ANCYL, SASCO and COSATU.
We want you to be part of the Progressive Youth Alliance not based on your affiliation to the political youth formation (which is also important) but based on your organisational presence as a COSATU youth forum.
So, what are these challenges I am talking about?
As I speak here today, the working people and poor people of African origin have been killing each other and KwaZulu-Natal, like Gauteng has become a killing field of the African working class being set against each other.
As COSATU, we are against the xenophobic killings we have seen taking place in the recent past.
We want to repeat that as COSATU, we totally abhor xenophobia - hostility to people of a different race or nationality.
It sets worker against worker and the poor against the poor, when we should be uniting our class in our common struggle for liberation and a better life, against those who exploit us.
We have been listening to some desperate individuals who were once within our ranks continuing to peddle the lie that it is the ANC that is the cause of the xenophobic violence.
They have even gone further to single out the ANC president.
Surely these people do not apply their minds and all they want is to find the ANC or the ANC president guilty of everything which happens in society.
Even if there can be an earthquake, they will say the ANC should have done something to stop the earthquake.
Even as we approach winter, we will hear them saying the ANC should do something to stop winter.
As COSATU, we believe that the roots of this problem lie with the apartheid regime's deliberate strategy to destroy the economic infrastructure of our neighbouring countries and support counter-revolutionary movements in order to destabilize them.
As a result some of these countries today still face huge problems of underdevelopment and poverty and there has been a constant stream of economic refugees into South Africa, looking for work and an escape from poverty.
These economic refuges compete with the millions of unemployed South Africans for too few jobs.
COSATU has always argued that largely because of the unemployment the crisis will become even worse.
These are the challenges which as a liberation movement we are confronting as part of the process of transforming the colonial and apartheid legacy which constitute the real basis of these challenges.
The demons of violence and of xenophobia frequently appear in community service delivery protests.
While we must condemn such violence, especially the destruction and looting of foreign-owned businesses, schools and libraries, we must understand people's frustration at the quality, or even absence of basic services in poor areas.
At the same time we need to debunk the notion that the working class from other African countries competes with the local working class, and thus by coming to South Africa, is responsible for declining services and lower wages.
The primary source of declining services and downward pressure on wages comes from the mobility of capital, its ability to relocate to other countries.
It is this pressure that acts as a disciplining force that ensures that the South African state sticks to economic policies that put an emphasis on "growth now and redistribution later", that ensures that the South African state dare not raise the taxes on corporations to fund service delivery, and that ensures that the South African Reserve Bank is the most vigorous advocate of low wages in South Africa.
That is why as COSATU we are in a campaign for the national minimum wage.
We reject the fallacy that minimum wages lead to more unemployment, on the basis that many firms will not be able to pay them and so will retrench workers or close down.
International experience discredits these claims for what they are: propaganda and lies.
A national minimum wage would be a significant first step towards greater equality and start to drag millions of poor, overwhelmingly black, workers out of poverty, and help us to defeat the demon of social divisions which is bound to appear in such an unequal society.
The emergence of these xenophobic attacks should be fought in all fronts.
This includes heightening our campaign for quality jobs based on equal pay for the work of equal value!
The Xenophobic or Acrophobic attacks are essentially about African workers and the working class set against each other.
As COSATU, we need to respond to these inhuman acts as a united force.
Our observation is that the recent violence is not without a possibility of some people planning to destabilize our revolution.
As we speak, there is an attempt to use popular revolt to destabilize Venezuela.
We are observing is that these acts of violence are part of a bigger plan to destabilize our revolution.
This include attempts to communicate a message that we should do like some other countries.
Various names of other countries get raised to argue that we should follow their path of development hook, line and sinker.
In the process the masses are forced to ignore the peculiarities of South Africa and push for quick yet unsustainable solutions which will not even create possibilities for Socialism.
You can’t import solutions which worked somewhere and impose it to our country and hope to produce the same results.
Comrade Mao Tse Tung once said something profound about how to understand this matter when he said that “ Changes in society are due chiefly to the development of the internal contradictions in society, that is, the contradiction between the productive forces and the relations of production, the contradiction between classes and the contradiction between the old and the new; it is the development of these contradictions that pushes society forward and gives the impetus for the supersession of the old society by the new.
He argued that dialectical materialism holds that external causes are the condition of change and internal causes are the basis of change, and that external causes become operative through internal causes.
In a suitable temperature an egg changes into a chicken, but no temperature can change a stone into a chicken, because each has a different basis. .....
In China in 1927, the defeat of the proletariat by the big bourgeoisie came about through the opportunism then to be found within the Chinese proletariat itself (inside the Chinese Communist Party).
When we liquidated this opportunism, the Chinese revolution resumed its advance.
Later, the Chinese revolution again suffered severe setbacks at the hands of the enemy, because adventurism had risen within our Party.
When we liquidated this adventurism, our cause advanced once again.
Thus it can be seen that to lead the revolution to victory, a political party must depend on the correctness of its own political line and the solidity of its own organization”.
This exposes the ideological flaws of our detractors. In their approach they neglect the national peculiarities, the specific concrete conditions (determined by history and the cultural heritage) of the class struggle and the necessity to isolate the peculiar laws of the revolution in each country.
Hence their continued reference to the Lula Moment despite the changes in Brazil and the South African peculiarities.
We see them jumping up and down thinking that the plans of destabilisation which worked elsewhere in the world will also work in South Africa.
The challenges in our country and inside our organizations need us more united as COSATU if we are to provide en effective response or to find a lasting solution.
I am sure we all have learnt by now that that there will never be a time when our struggle will not have the challenges of its own internally.
No serious and fighting trade union movement or any serious liberation movement including in China and CUBA have not gone through what we are going through today.
But despite these problems they have triumphed.
But this fact alone does not guarantee our success.
It is what we decisively and consciously do to respond to our own material and concrete conditions that will guarantee our breakthrough.
Please allow me to report to you the decision which was taken by the Special CEC held from the 30th to the 31st March which included the expulsion of the COSATU General Secretary.
Let me clarify that the decision to expel comrade Zwelinzima Vavi took place in the context where the Federation was dealing with the findings of the investigation regarding an affair between comrade Zwelinzima and a married staff member including the Charges of Rape which were later dropped.
These findings included (a) Recruitment and employment of the staff member in question (b) Relationship with the staff member (c) Making sex in the office (d) Conversion of the staff member to an employee (e) Supervision of this particular staff member (f) Distribution of an Internal grievance and response (g) Personal expenses and personal travel (h) Carte Blanche interview on 4 August 2013 where comrade Zweli said that he conducted an interview with the said staff member in the presence of the Human Resource Department (i)Breach of suspension conditions (j) Utterances derogatory to COSATU and its leadership.
The decision of the Special CEC also took place within the context of the federation dealing with the Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo report which revealed (a) irregularities on the purchasing of the new COSATU House and the selling of the old COSATU house, which also included the inflation of the price paid for the new building. (b) Conflict of interest with regard to the employment of the step daughter to the General Secretary on her employment by the VMS company (c) Conflict of interest with regard to the business partnership between VMS and the wife of the General Secretary (d) Irregularities with regard to the KKM CEO. (e) Irregularities with regard to the Board of Directors of CUBAH properties .
But these were not the reasons why the CEC took a decision to expel comrade Zwelinzima Vavi and yet it does not mean that the Federation will not pursue these findings through other law enforcement agencies. Infarct the CEC mandated the NOBs to pursue these findings.
So what are the reasons leading the expulsion of Zwelinzima Vavi. In summary he was expelled for undermining the principle of democratic centralism.
He had behaved in a manner which defines him outside of the organisation and places him above the organisation. He has continuously behaved as an individual, who had been a law unto himself. He had behaved as if he had exclusive powers above everyone else.
He has gotten used to using COSATU as his personal property which was there to serve his own interests not him serving the organisation.
For comrade Zwelinzima Vavi all of us were expected to bow before him and beg for our views to be heard and considered.
It was either his way or no way.
When the National Congress took a decision to have the federation mobilise for the victory of the ANC he went out to undermine that decision.
When the CEC took a decision on the leadership of the ANC towards Mangaung, he went out to act against that and we later learnt that some NUMSA leadership went to Nkandla to lobby for him to become the Deputy President of the ANC against the mandate of the federation.
He has gotten used to this conduct to a point of thinking that he was the federation himself. That is why when the CEC took a decision which he did not agree with; he went to write an open letter to oppose the decision.
The CEC said enough is enough!
To elaborate on this, I can report that there are three reasons which compelled the CEC to expel Zwelinzima Vavi.
The first one is that after the Special Central Executive Committee meeting held on the 7th November 2014 in which a decision was taken to expel NUMSA, the General Secretary did not attend the media conference which was convened to communicate the decisions of this CEC.
Instead he wrote a letter which was also accessed by the media in which he expressed his opposition to the decision of this CEC to expel NUMSA.
This was a CEC which he had convened and in which he was also present and participated in its deliberations.
The second one is that he did not attend the joint Political and Socio- Economic Commission which he had convened on the 24th January 2015, saying that he will not attend the meeting because the other affiliates who went public about boycotting the CEC had also not attended the meeting.
The third one is that he did not attend the properly constituted ordinary CEC held from the 2nd to 4th March 2015 which was convened by him, citing the absence of the unions which had openly boycotted the meeting as the reasons for his non-attendance. Throughout the proceedings of the meeting he spoke to the media communicating views that were in opposition to or contrary to the interests of the Federation which he had been elected by the 11th Congress to lead as its General Secretary.
In light of the failure of the General Secretary’s failure to attend the meeting of the 2nd to 4th March 2014 to explain his behaviour which went against the expressed provisions of the COSATU constitution and the code of conduct for staff and leaders , it was decided that the General Secretary be called upon to attend the meeting of the Special Central Executive Committee scheduled from 30th to 31st March 2015 to explain his failure to attend the ordinary CEC held from the 2nd to 4th March 2015 .
By not coming to this CEC to explain his conduct he therefore waved his right to put his side of the story. This is in addition to his refusal to cooperate in giving his side of the story on serious allegations contained in the Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo report.
The General Secretary refused and failed to attend these meetings.
The failure of the General Secretary to attend the meeting of the 2nd to 4th March 2015, including the Special CEC convened from the 30th to 31st March 2015 had major implications on the management and administration of the affairs of the Federation.
The General Secretary held a press conference on the 29th March 2015 where on amongst others he said the following: “from this point I will no longer participate in the internal factional wrangling in the organization” page 30 para-43. “I will not attend the meetings of the federation” page 31 para-44. ”¦”I cannot attend the pending Special CEC “page 31 para-45. If my refusal to attend the Special CEC is used as a pretext to fire me, then so be it” page 32 Para 65. “This is a deliberate act of defiance on my part ”¦” page 34 para-71. “I am making a statement that COSATU belongs to its members, not to any faction or clique, page 43, para-72.
Please see the document titled Zwelinzima Vavi’s Public statement, 29 March 2015
Based on these , the CEC concluded that the provisions of the COSATU constitution and the code of conduct for staff and leadedrs have been violated by Zwelinzima Vavi.
His conduct constituted gross misconduct .
The CEC applied clause 10.4 of the COSATU constitution on the removal of officials which says that the CEC may suspend or dismiss the General Secretary or any other official, if in the opinion of the CEC the official has committed misconduct; has neglected his / her duties; has acted in a manner detrimental to the Federation; or has acted in a manner which conflicts with this Constitution. The CEC or the NC may suspend or dismiss the General Secretary or any other official for any other reason deemed sufficient.
On the basis of this the CEC resoved that:
1. Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi is dismissed as the General Secretary of COSATU with immediate effect.
2. He must return all the property of the federation with immediate effect of this resolution being communicated to him.
3. He must henceforth stop speaking on behalf of the federation as he is no longer the General Secretary of COSATU.
4. In an instance where comrade Zwelinzima Vavi wants to access the COSATU offices as part of clearing his office desk, he should do so in consultation with the National Office Bearers.
5. The National Office Bearers will work to ensure that the security of the federation’s communication and information is maximized. This will include ensuring that there are no interceptions and hacking of computers.
6. No structure of the federation shall be allowed to undermine this decision. This includes inviting him or creating platforms for him to address members affiliated to COSATU unions.
7. No staff member including Provincial Secretaries should take instructions from comrade Zwelinzima Vavi.
8. The National office Bearers will immediately communicate this decision to all our structures including the Alliance structures and our international bodies we are affiliated to .
9. Special Provincial Executive Committee meeting will be convened as a matter of urgency to communicate this decision .
10. All units of COSATU are instructed to henceforth stop using our media platform or any COSATU platforms to profile comrade Zwelinzima Vavi.
11. All staff members, particularly Provincial Secretaries of the federation and of our unions are instructed to desist from participating in comrade Zwelinzima Vavi’ led activities. These are not consistent with the policies and decisions of the federation and they are intended to destroy and not to build COSATU.
12. The NOBs should continue to facilitate the work directed at achieving the unity of the federation. This includes coordinating activities and campaigns of the federation on the ground. Affiliates should continue to escalate the provision of quality service to members.
13. All outstanding allegations against the General Secretary will be processed by the National Office Bearers through a properly constituted task team which will be working with various experts.
As COSATU we are refusing to get into a street fight about the lies, misinformation and half truths which are being peddled in the media. But very soon we will respond and clarity distortions. This include the state of COSATU finances and that NOBs a living a lavish lifestyle. We will respond to our members and not to the media.
What should be our tasks moving forward.
The first thing that we need to do is to unite workers, unite affiliates, unite and defend COSATU
Our second task is to defend the constitution of COSATU defend the policies of our Federation.
This include, defending the policy of COSATU to be part of the alliance. More importantly we should defend the trade union character of COSATU.
We must make it clear that COSATU is not, cannot and will never be a political organisation.
We need to work towards repositioning COSATU towards focusing on workplace issues, drive our affiliates to provide quality service to members.
Get our leaders to spend more time with workers than with management
Our enemy is not and cannot be other workers but our enemy is white monopoly capital.
That is what should guide our work as a COSATU union.
War to our class enemy and unity amongst workers.
We are saying let us take war to our class enemies and fight for unity amongst workers and the working class of all nations.
Issued by COSATU, April 24 2015