Declaration of COSATU joint civil society COP 17 workshop

31 October 2011

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) in Kwazulu-Natal had a successful and powerful workshop focusing on the Conference of Parties (COP 17), at Diakonia Conference Centre in Durban, with 45 delegates coming from different COSATU affiliates and civil society organisations drawn from different sectors of interests and work.

It was also attended and addressed by representatives from the Mayor’s office of Ethekwini Metropolitan and the Premier’s Office, who made presentations on government plan and programmes for the main events of the COP17. The workshop was also blessed by the presence and comprehensive presentation from the COSATU national office on the context within which COSATU is participating and positioning itself building up to real activities of COP 17.

The purpose of this workshop was to synergize affiliates’ and civil society’s programmes of action into one coordinated, integrated and comprehensive programme aimed at mobilising the working class in order to exert its hegemony on the deliberations and outcomes of COP 17 with the view to changing the global balance of forces both politically and economically.

The workshop noted that capitalism is inherently unstable, fraught with contradictions and prone to deep crises. It further noted that exploitation, war, hunger, poverty and climate change are not problems that could be solved by the market system but are inescapable outcomes of the system itself.

The workshop believed that this is precisely because capitalism is dominated by the wealthiest corporations and devoted to profit above all. It further believed that only a more to a democratic socialist society, where ordinary people are empowered to make key decisions about the economy and society themselves can open the path to genuine freedom and liberation.

The workshop therefore affirmed that on the key goals of the working class, to liberate the natural world from anti-environmental impacts of corporate greed, from the standpoint of a higher economic formation, the private property of particular individuals in the earth will appear just as absurd as the property of one man in other man. The delegates therefore further affirmed that climate change is having devastating impacts on the poor and the powerless throughout the world.

The workshop was also reminded by Karl Marx assertion that capitalism is an economic system profoundly at odds with a sustainable planet. In line with this, the delegates therefore confirm their proper and correct understanding that under capitalism the exploitation of nature is as fundamental to the profit system, as the exploitation of working people. The delegates further understood and scathing of the capitalist economic notion that the air, rivers, seas, and soil can be treated as a “free gift of nature” to business.

The workshop will continue to regard this assertion by Marx, that“even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing society taken together, are not owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations” as the basis within which it engages the climate change.

With this in mind, the workshop convened by the gallant and giant federation of more than 2 million members in South Africa called for joint and dedicated campaigning programme aimed at mobilising the working class around its revolutionary theory - socialism.

The workshop discussed among others the ideological and battle of ideas, alternatives and possible joint campaigns and programme building up to the actual main events of the Conference of Parties (COP 17).

After robust and frank discussions the workshop noted:

The efforts by the eThekwini municipality’s greening project as a small contribution to reducing their carbon emissions but noted that these efforts need to be coordinated with civil society at large so that communities and civil society at large can be part of the solution in the long run.

And resolved that:

Beyond the workshop the delegates affirmed that:

  1. The provincial leadership of COSATU including affiliates in the province should call upon their principals to bring the preparatory machinery in the province as opposed to remote controlling approach. This means that a team focusing on the mobilisation should be assembled to operate here in the province, not in Johannesburg. We however accept that the national leadership will continue to interact with issues of political, policy and strategic nature but the logistical preparations for mobilisation are located in the province as the host.
  2. COSATU and Civil Society organisations should establish a joint steering committee which will coordinate and oversee the implementation of the mobilisation programme as adopted in the workshop.
  3. An urgent meeting within two weeks from the workshop should be convened with the Premiers office in order to present the outcomes of the workshop for integration into the broader programme of the province and the financial support.
  4. COSATU, through its local structures and all its affiliates, should take on the challenges of the world and imperatives of COP 17 to ensure an effective mobilisation towards exerting hegemony of the working class in the deliberations of COP 17.
  5. COSATU, jointly with civil society organisations, will engage in the campaign to mobilise the working class and communities around Durban, in particular around our demands which among others include the following:
  6. Similarly, the workshop reiterated its commitment to safeguard the interests of the working class and the poor and the integrity of the peoples of the world. In pursuit of our revolutionary cause we will seek to mobilise all people and strata in society for their contribution to the national democratic discourse in a democratic and peaceful manner. In this context we will reject and fight with all our power any form of counter-revolution such as exclusion of critical and imperative role players in the preparations and actual deliberations of COP 17.
  7. The established joint steering committee must facilitate an urgent meeting with POPCRU and MECs for Community Safety and Liaison and Transport on security plan, particularly policing, department of health on health plans and department of agriculture, environment and rural development.

Contact: Zet Luzipo (Provincial Secretary)
Cell: 072 884 3456/079 514 8887