NUMSA commemorates the 100 year anniversary of the Russian Revolution

NUMSA president speech to the NUMSA International colloquium on building an alternative development paradigm in a changing global political economic context

4 November 2013, Posted in Speeches


Dear National Office Bearers,
Regional leaders of NUMSA present here,
COSATU Leaders present here,
Dear International Comrades
Local comrades,
Comrades and friends,

It is a privilege to stand in front of you tonight on this historic day in the 26 years of NUMSA’s existence in South Africa.

Today will be remembered by many future generations for being the day that NUMSA officially launched an important institute, an institute that shall provide an alternative views on matters, not just for NUMSA, but the working class at large.

Literature and business schools all over the world preach the gospel of Washington Consensus and they do so hand and glove with many think tanks that support the Washington Consensus as the only solution to problems of unemployment, poverty and inequality. The media is their big friend in spreading this view that all the failures of capitalism to eradicate poverty, inequality and unemployment are self made by lack of good governance and corruption, in particular in the developing world.
It is not my intention today to defend lack of good governance and corruption for they are not defendable, however we shall one day locate this real problems to capitalism itself as a system that breeds them.

We were privileged in the launch today to receive an important contribution from Cde Ronnie Kasrils, who when he spoke reminded me of what Amilcar Cabral said that revolutionaries must tell no lies and they must not claim easy victories. I like the most the following point that he made about the institute; “Knowledge is power, the point is, who controls that knowledge”.

This step that we took today shall reclaim the control of knowledge for if we controlled the knowledge in 1992, in that Davos meeting that President Mandela attended, we would have seen a different South Africa today.
This year marks 21 years since President Mandela attended that Davos meeting, and an important trade union in South Africa and the continent launches the Research and Policy Institute. It is no use crying over lost opportunities of the last 21 years or rather 26 years of our existence, but what becomes important is to use our institute to add a voice to few and often unheard voices of other left leaning research and policy institutes in our country and abroad.

I look forward to receiving more information about how we shall strengthen relationship with Chris Hani Institute, NALEDI, Lula Institute, Rosa Luxemborg Institute and many other progressive institutes and research bodies in the world.

Our institute has a mammoth task to deal with following key themes;
• Political Economy

• The State Power, Class Struggles and Politics,

• Manufacturing and Industrialisation

• Development

• Political Ecology

• Land and Agrarian Transformation

• Gender/ Socialist Feminism

• Culture and Ideology

Definitely, these are big issues and I have confidence that as we grow confidence and win more friends, we shall be able to deliver to NUMSA and the working class. Some of the themes that we have chosen have not been looked at from our perspective as people who live in the South, in particular in the African continent.

It would seem that current leaders in the African continent have yet to emulate the first leaders that achieved independence. When one reads about African socialism, humanism and other ideological permutations by our forebearers, one wonders why current leaders seek to promote policies that sometimes I call self imposed structural adjustment programs, even when all of them can see the dangers of those Washington imposed policies.

Comrades and friends,
Your presence in this colloquium means a lot to us because in the three to four days you are spending with us, we want to share our experiences with you as a continent and that my General Secretary will do tomorrow morning.

Our intention is not to crucify you for having extracted millions of tons of mineral resources from our continent to build your economies, but to impress upon you that it is not sustainable to continue to do that and seek your views how you think our continent and the countries in the South that develop their economies for the benefit of all not the few.

A respected journalist, Terry Bell, recently accused the unions for being locked in dogma and in the process failing to play the role that they should play in transforming the economy. We believe by the time we finish here, there will be clear answers for people like Terry Bell and others who think like him.

Dear comrades and friends,
Feel free to share with us your experiences as the labour movement in Europe and Asia. Few months ago, as NUMSA, we affiliated to World Federation of Trade Unions to the surprise and anger of many of our friends and allies. We reminded them that we are an independent organisation that takes independent decisions.

We explained that the main reason we affiliated to WFTU is that we see no reason why there is still cold war in the global trade union movement, when cold war between the US and USSR ended in 1989. We believe that workers of the world must unite because they have nothing to loose but their chains and maybe in the engagements that we will have in the few days, we will pose another important question about the original text in the Communist Manifesto that said Proletariats of the World Unite, and why it was changed to say workers of the world, instead of proletariats.

My own suspicion is that capitalism as a system that connives everyday predicted that at some point for its survival, it must divide the proletariat between the employed and the unemployed (what the right wing DA calls the insider/outsider phenomenon), it is these phenomenon that is used by them to justify labour brokers and youth wage subsidies, that we obviously reject as NUMSA and COSATU.

If indeed my above suspicions are correct, can capitalism resolve the problem of unemployment in society. Me think not, because capitalism needs reserve labour all the time. We sit with 36 percent unemployment in our country, we must here from you how are you dealing with the effects of the 2008 global financial of capitalism that has been equated to the 1969 Great Depression.

We as the working class, allowed capitalism to rise from the dead in 1969, the question we must attempt to answer when we leave here, are we going to allow capitalism to rise from second death that happened in 2008.
Comrades and friends,

As I conclude, allow me to once again emphasize how excited we are that you left your different countries and tasks to join us to baptize our institute with revolutionary spirit and experiences of your own that can help us to grow from strength to strength.

Thanks to the team led by Cde Neo Bodibe for the job well done. The NUMSA NOBs are proud of you.

Viva International Solidarity, Viva
Forward to Revolutionary Engagements, Forward