NUMSA commemorates the 100 year anniversary of the Russian Revolution

President Cedric Gina’s Opening Address to Numsa Central Committee held in Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre on 27 August 2012.

28 August 2012, Posted in Speeches

National Office Bearers,
Central Committee delegates,
Local Chairpersons of our locals,
Officials present here,
Invited guests,
Comrades and friends,

It is my privilege to greet you this morning on behalf of the National Office Bearers. This is our first Central Committee after our successful 9th National Congress that took place in Durban from 04-08 June 2012. We take full responsibility for minor glitches that took place in that Congress.

I must at this point highlight that 27 August must remain in the history of our union forever because it was on this day that we lost our longest serving President, Cde Mtutuzeli Tom few years ago.

I request that we rise and honour him and all other leaders and officials who made our union what it is today.

It is also at this point that we must honour and remember all the workers that died in the Marikana Lonmin Massacre that is still fresh in our minds.

I will discuss the Marikana Lonmin Massacre later in my speech.

It is my humble submission that we ought to thank you once again for the confidence you have shown to us as the six NOB collective in the 9th National Congress.

We dare not fail you. I think it is instructive at this point to quote our icon, Dr. Nelson Mandela when he congratulated President Thabo Mbeki in 1997,

“There is a heavy responsibility for a leader elected unopposed. He may use that powerful position to settle scores with his detractors, to marginalise or get rid of them and surround themselves with yes-men and women.

His first duty is to allay the concerns of his colleagues to enable them to discuss freely without fear within internal structures.”

I promise you, on behalf of the National Office Bearers, new and elected unopposed that this is your union, discuss freely without fear within internal structures (my emphasis).

There is no region or local of our union that must feel that it cannot discuss freely matters of this union in the structures.

THE OMNIPOTENT UNITY OF METALWORKERS.

I can pronounce without a fear of contradiction that our 9th National Congress was a show of unity which must be strengthened going forward. In the NOB strategic planning session that took place few weeks ago, we agreed to present a figure of 400 000 members by the 10th National Congress as the new target that we must achieve as a union.

It is our strong appeal to this Central Committee to adopt this figure and work hard for its achievement.

We believe, with the unity that was displayed in our 9th National Congress, there is no reason why we cannot achieve a stronger, 400 000 members union of metalworkers in four years time.

The fresh memories of what we saw in Marikana must be a wakeup call that we must work very hard for the unity of our unions.

We must work very hard in servicing our members such that we do not open space for opportunists to take advantage of problems that will surely arise from time to time in our factories.

We must, with immediate effect invest in mass political education for members of our unions, not just the shop stewards.

There are many lessons we can learn from the Marikana Lonmin Massacre and we must learn from them without putting a blame on anyone or organisation, but be brutally truthful in our analysis because that can be the only way we can learn.

I think we must join COSATU in welcoming the Commission of Enquiry into the Marikana massacre and hope that commissioners will leave no stone unturned in uncovering what happened in Marikana.

I now want to challenge a number of Ministers to do a self introspection about their portfolios.
I think both the Minister of Labour and Minister of Police must ask themselves if their actions of not intervening earlier, even before the President went there, was not going to save the country from the global embarrassment that is upon us.

I also think that the Minister of Energy could have played a proactive role in this matter.

As for the Department of Labour, it is too easy to form a trade union in this country.

The labour laws are too liberal in that score and clearly if this is not arrested, we will soon have many more trade unions on top of more than 400 unions that are registered in our country.

The beneficiaries of the sunset clause in the department of labour are hell-bent on reversing our gains in the labour market.

The NEASA/ MEIBC matter and so called possible deregistration of COSATU unions is a clear indication that beneficiaries of the sunset clause that was to expire in 1999 are frustrating our unions.

The Minister of Labour must act decisively against these officials.

We think that our police commissioner must be sent to a public speaking school with immediate effect.

You cannot say you are not sorry after the police have killed more than 34 people in less than 3 minutes.

We think it was extremely irresponsible of her, as a mother, to have uttered those words.

I will be failing if I do not condemn the opportunism by a former President of the ANC Youth League on this very sensitive matter.

I think this is one more time where the former President of the ANC Youth League revealed his true colours that everything is about himself and he will use every opportunity to expose his shallow views about what is happening in our country.

For a former leader of the youth league that claims to lead a campaign for nationalisation of mines to arrive in a mine and direct his anger to the beneficiary of the failed BBBEE that was created to create the buffer between the white monopoly capital is playing to the hands of the same white monopoly capital.

I’m sure they were patting their backs in London that their strategy is working, attract a black face and any anger against the exploitation of workers will be directed to that black face whilst we relax in London.

Is it possible that the trip to London by this former President of the ANC Youth League has changed his stance about nationalisation of the mines?

I think the same must be said about our comrade Ministers, who we are told walked out when they were called cowards.

If indeed they walked out because they were called cowards by this former President of the ANC Youth League, then it is really unfortunate.

I invite you to engage on all the facets of the Marikana massacre, these are just my views to kick-start a discussion on this important matter that may define how we do things as unions going forward.

COSATU CONGRESS

The clock is ticking towards this important COSATU Congress that meets next month, merely three years before we reach the important 2015 milestone that we set for ourselves in 2003.

This Congress is taking place in year 2012 which coincides with the ANC conference in December and this has complicated matters. Our allies and newspapers have decided to analyse anything we say or do according to spectacles of the ANC officially unopened succession process.

As the NOBs, we submit a report that links many allegations against NUMSA by our allies to the coming COSATU Congress and as a result we found ourselves having to pronounce before this Central Committee that as metalworkers we want unity in the coming COSATU congress and that Cde Zwelinzima Vavi must be at the centre of that unity.

We will engage further on this important matter of leadership and we want to hear your views.

We were privileged to have Cde Zingiswa Losi in the leadership collective of COSATU and we still want to be represented in the COSATU NOBs as metalworkers.

Let us reflect on the performance of Cde Zingiswa Losi and assist her where we feel she might have come short in executing her duties and congratulate here where she did very well.

Dear delegates, I would like reflections on how we have carried ourselves as NUMSA in championing COSATU resolutions.

I have full confidence that we performed our tasks as NOBs to the best of our abilities in that front, however many in the Alliance started a campaign that attempted to present us as people who must be isolated and we must check if that campaign to isolate NUMSA is succeeding and if it is succeeding, how do we engage with that reality with a sole view of ensuring that we still continue to influence a sizeable number of comrades in our organisations without compromising what we stand for as a socialist-oriented metalworkers union.

We must brutally reflect about how we implemented the 2015 plan of our federation and ask uncomfortable questions about what would have happened if we had implemented that good plan to the letter.

I am one leader of a COSATU union that believes that the 2015 plan was one of the best COSATU decisions post 1994 and I firmly believe that if we had implemented it to the letter, then the National Democratic Revolution will not be at the crossroads, as President Jacob Zuma succinctly put it in our 9th National Congress.

The Secretariat Report of COSATU raises fundamental points about our NDR and calls for our LULA Moment in South Africa. I think we must appreciate that a ‘moment’ of a former leader of metalworkers union in Brazil is called upon to help the NDR to come back on track.

It becomes our responsibility through our positions that we must sponsor in that Congress to determine the LULA moment since the global financial crisis of capitalism have proven for all to see that manufacturing is the route to take in addressing issues of economic growth for all countries, in particular, developing countries.

Once again, the Marikana massacre must feature in the COSATU Congress in relation to issues of COSATU interventions in its affiliates. Even the issue of staffing levels in COSATU provinces must be discussed, because in my view, COSATU has become too fat at the level of Head Office at the expense of building a strong COSATU on the ground.

Let us seriously discuss our approach to this important COSATU Congress as metalworkers.

THE SACP NATIONAL CONGRESS

Our vanguard party, the South African Communist Party, held its 13th national congress in Empangeni.

We must congratulate the leadership that was elected there.

However, it will be important to reflect on the same issue of leadership and the decisions of that Congress in so far as the strategic goal of attaining socialism in our lifetime.

We must reject the notion that metalworkers must have no interest on the happenings of its vanguard party that must be capable of delivering socialism in their lifetime, similarly the vanguard party, the SACP, cannot abrogate its responsibility to strengthen a metalworkers union that is at the coalface of capitalism in the factories each and every day in our country.

However difficult it maybe, we must discuss the low intensity war by some leaders of the SACP and be able to rise above their factionalism to find a common ground for NUMSA and SACP to build socialism now because it is the future.

We must discuss whether the amendment of the SACP constitution and the subsequent election of Cde Solly Mapaila as the second Deputy General Secretary assist to cover the vacuum that we have been talking about, which attracted labels for some of us. What about the provinces, what is going to happen there?

Having said all the above, it was extremely disappointing that we did not have many NUMSA members and shop stewards in that Congress as delegates in their own right. We must talk about this matter.

It was reported that some leaders who qualified to be delegates were prevented from being delegates; lets us talk about even that here to raise it with the new leadership of the SACP if indeed it happened.

It was also very disappointing to hear the SACP leadership reducing the unfortunate incident that involved our General Secretary to populism.

I remain convinced that a bodyguard that follows a wrong principal for 30 kilometres does not deserve to be called a bodyguard, in fact he or she deserves to be fired.

We remain committed to a sound, revolutionary relationship with our vanguard South African Communist Party. We still believe that the South African Communist Party is our insurance for achieving a Socialist Republic of South Africa.

We hope that the new leadership will find time to create the space for the NUMSA/SACP bilateral now that we have consistently requested for over two years to discuss the implementation of the outcomes of the only one bilateral meeting we had with our vanguard in the last term of this NOB collective.

THE ANC CONFERENCE IN DECEMBER 2012

The centenary year has been eventful in our country. We have seen lectures about previous Presidents of the ANC, some went very well and some not very well.

It is unfortunate that opportunists used the important occasions like the lectures which are supposed to be opportunities for ordinary masses to learn about their organisation to raise their preferences about leadership in December.

The policy conference of the ANC has passed, leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of many comrades who feel that resolutions of many delegates were suppressed by those who had the power to write resolutions, called scribers.
I hope that as NUMSA we will contribute positively on how this travesty of justice may be remedied before the conference in December so that the policy recommendations may represent the real outcomes of the policy conference.

The second transition that became the second phase after the conference must deliver to our people.

NUMSA must play its part in ensuring that indeed the content of the second phase is devoid of any traces of the neo-liberal policy like GEAR, just like the 9th NUMSA Congress resolved.

NUMSA must use this central committee to warn the ANC that we cannot be introducing new terms in each and every policy conference, in 2007 policy conference, it was a “developmental state”, in 2012 it is the “second phase”, let us focus on the content of these documents rather than changing the names every time we go the policy conference.

President Jacob Zuma called for a radical change in his opening speech.

The delegates tried to give him a radical change in resolutions, scribers with their powers vested in them, reduced possible radical changes to further reforms.

There is still an opportunity to reinstate the radical issues that were discussed by delegates in December Conference.

Our behaviour and posture will be a key determinant whether we succeed or fail on this score!

On the question of leadership, NUMSA has been demonised as being anti-current leadership.

No amount of explanation has assisted us. This Central Committee presents an opportunity for us to discuss the issue of leadership.

We must state, just like we stated in COSATU, that unity is paramount for the ANC. We believe that President Jacob Zuma, just like Cde Zwelinzima Vavi in COSATU, must be at the centre of the unity of the ANC going forward.

We present a proposal as NOBs that acknowledges that mistakes have been made, however we still believe it will be important to maintain the leader of the ANC as the President and then discuss all other positions, including who constitutes the National Executive Committee of the ANC.

In doing this task, we must not repeat the mistakes of 2007 where we concentrated our energies on the top six leaders only and ended with an NEC that is anti- COSATU and anti- Communist that at some point suggested that COSATU was contemplating an MDC scenario in South Africa.

It is the same NEC that destroyed the prospects of an Alliance as the ‘political centre’ and insisted on the ANC alone as the political centre.

We must also reflect on the fact that the NEC did invite COSATU senior leaders to partake in the NEC, and Cde Salome Sithole is currently the NEC through that arrangement.

She was however deployed to be a Mayor of Emalahleni after local government elections and deprived the CEC of COSATU of a representative in the NEC of the ANC.

This might be discussed by this Central Committee.

CONCLUSION

I humbly submit these opening remarks on behalf of the National Office Bearers to contribute together with the secretariat report of our General Secretary to our deliberations in this Central Committee.

I declare this central committee opened.

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Numsa Speeches