2 August 2012
The Congress of South African Trade Unions sends warm birthday greetings to its staunch ally, the South African Communist Party, as it marks 91 glorious years of fighting for the workers of the world, 91 years of keeping alive the vision of a socialist planet, where humankind is free from tyranny, war, racism, exploitation and poverty.
Nothing will ever break the alliance that binds together the workers’ movement, COSATU, and its revolutionary vanguard, the SACP. We have struggled shoulder-to-shoulder in the trenches of the war against apartheid, racism and colonialism of a special type. As our General Secretary said at your recent Congress, “Communists have always been in the forefront of organising workers and planting the seeds for revolutionary trade unionism in South Africa.
“The unity of the Communist Party with the trade union movement is not an accident of history but a product of the unique history of South African brand of capitalism... Any narrative of the South African struggle against apartheid and colonialism, which omits the role of the party and communists, is simply ahistorical, incomplete and false. We in the revolutionary socialist trade union federation COSATU will forever remain indebted to the pioneering role the communists have played in this country in inculcating socialist revolutionary consciousness among the working class.”
Today we continue to fight together against the capitalist world disorder, as it staggers from crisis to crisis, proving again and again why it has to make way for a socialist world order.
It is condemning more and more people to unemployment, poverty and hunger; it is poisoning the earth through pollution, global warming and climate change; it is holding the people of the world to ransom, with the threat of military attack and even nuclear annihilation against any who challenge its control over the resources and people of the planet.
In South Africa, we are waging war against a ruling class that has enriched itself through the most ruthless exploitation of the workers and the country’s natural resources, creating the most monopolised economy and most unequal society in the world, riddled with corruption, and driven by greed, as they strive, by whatever means possible to entrench their power, privileges and wealth.
The forces of the socialist revolution face massive challenges. The political advances we won in 1994, in no small part as a result of the work of COSATU and the SACP, have not been matched with similar victories in the economy. That is why our allies in the African National Congress agree with us that we need a “second phase of the transition” to implement the promises of the Freedom Charter to liberate the people from poverty and inequality.
This is because the apartheid fault lines are still entrenched throughout society - in the distribution of wealth and land, in access to healthcare, education, housing, and transport. A rich, still mainly white, minority wield economic power, with access to world-class healthcare and education services in the private sector and a lifestyle amongst the most luxurious in the world.
Meanwhile the overwhelmingly black, poor majority struggle to survive in deep poverty, with pathetic levels of service delivery in healthcare and education, housing and transport. And with the sky-high unemployment, there is little prospect in the short-term of any escape.
And yet the super-rich capitalists want to extract even more surplus value from our labour, demanding that the workers give away the few legal defences that our labour laws provide to protect jobs and livelihoods. They are howling with anger at the government’s very minimal reforms of the labour laws to stem the devastating consequences of the tide of casualisation of labour.
They want an economy where workers can be traded just like any other commodity, with no collective bargaining or minimum wages, but everything to be determined by the market, so that wages and conditions fall to the rock-bottom level at which desperate unemployed workers will accept, just to stay alive and feed their families.
Perhaps worst of all, the ugly morality of the ruling class has begun to invade our own movement. The capitalist culture of ‘me-first’, and ‘to hell with the rest’ is beginning to take root in government, civil society and even the trade unions.
The ANC’s traditions of selfless service to the people is being eroded by a small but powerful minority who want to betray the trust of the communities who elected them in order to use their public office to win tenders for their family businesses.
They resort to murdering those who stand in their way, like the brave whistle-blower Comrade Moss Phakoe, and even mobilise supporters waving the ANC’s emblems to demonstrate outside the courts when they are brought to justice.
Linked to this is the growing evidence of gross mismanagement and squandering of public funds, proved by the damning evidence of the Auditor-General’s report on our municipalities, and the ongoing scandal of the non-delivery of textbooks in Limpopo.
These are just some of the awesome challenges our two organisations confront. And that is why unity between COSATU and the SACP has never been more crucial so that we can work together to resolve them
There will be no second phase of the transition, let alone a march forward to socialism, if our socialist axis itself is not united, and extending its influence and hegemony within the broader layers of progressive civil society - including intellectuals, academics and journalists, NGOs, faith organisations, progressive youth formations and indeed single-issue-based but progressive organisations such as those fighting for textbook delivery, free HIV and AIDS care and medicines, the protection of sex workers, the rights of rural landless peoples and so on.
To repeat again what Mao Tse Tung said, “Communists are like seeds and the people are like the soil. Wherever we go, we must unite with the people; take root and blossom among them.”
As you march forward to your 100th anniversary, you can be confident that the workers and their organisation, COSATU, are marching by your side, confident in the belief that a better world is possible, and that socialism is the future, and we are with you helping to build it now. Viva SACP Viva!
Patrick Craven (National Spokesperson)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
110 Jorissen Cnr Simmonds Street
Tel: +27 11 339-4911 or Direct: +27 10 219-1339
Mobile: +27 82 821 7456