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Shopsteward Volume 26 No. 2

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Media Centre  |  COSATU Press Statements

COSATU delegation to Satucc in Botswana

26-11-08

A COSATU delegation is leaving tomorrow for Gaborone, Botswana, to attend the 8th delegates Conference of Southern African Trade Unions. This is a very important forum where regional trade unions gather to take stock of progress made, reflect on weaknesses and failures, as well as develop a wayforward.

In the context of current regional developments, issues such as Zimbabwe, Swaziland, the DRC, the newly launched SADC Free Trade Area Agreement, environment and climate change issues, gender, poverty and unemployment, as well as the global economic crisis should be under the radar of the working people`s movement as it gets down to business in Gaborone.

In particular, we take note of the need for a coherent regional movement for socio-economic justice bringing together all forces for change to confront these problems in a more systematic and consistent manner. This is in the context of the need to deepen democracy, fight for a culture of human rights and tackle underdevelopment for regional progress.

We also note the growing inequalities between and amongst nations and peoples in our region and beyond, as well as within our individual countries, which demands that the trade union movement as the most organised detachment of the broad movement of poor p eople, should play an active, if not leading role.

The situation in Zimbabwe and Swaziland require our utmost attention and intensified solidarity. We note that in Zimbabwe the cholera crisis threatens the whole region and this is a result of the political and economic crisis in that country and postponing the problem or avoiding it has not helped anyone, but worsened the suffering of the people. We also note that the inability of the political crisis in that country to be resolved has exposed SADC`s challenges and the need for more political will by the le aders of Zimbabwe to do all within their power for their people.

In Swaziland, we note the intensified hostility after the arrest of PUDEMO President, Mario Masuku as a result of the newly enacted Suppression of terrorism Act, as well as the targeting of political and trade union activists for brutality and harassment b y the state security forces.

We further note the situation facing our people in the DRC as a result of the war in that country. We maintain our conviction that the war in that country is not narrowly about tribal divisions, but fundamentally a war involving forces keen on the rich min eral resources and using one group against another, which means we must target all the companies involved in benefiting from this looting if we are to really root out the possibilities of further warring in future.

All these indicators point to the state of our region, a region in crisis, compounded by the crisis of HIV/AIDS and unemployment, which are savaging the poor people of our region and dehumanising them.

In the midst of all these challenges, trade unions are called upon to demonstrate leadership and provide real and workable alternatives to the suffering people of the region. No doubt in many instances, regional leaders have failed their own people, hence the need for an alternative centre of real and effective leadership in the midst of hopelessness and deepening crisis.

We also take this opportunity to salute the leadership provided by the outgoing President, Cde Lucia Matibenga from ZCTU and her whole team for their massive contribution to the work of building the movement of working people in the region. We also hope th at the new leadership shall be able to take us forward, raise the level of organisation and cohesion, as well as bring in more dynamism and vibrancy in the work of the movement. Cde Matibenga has proven that the regional trade union movement has, amongst i ts ranks, many outstanding women cadres, capable of providing leadership to the working people of our region and society in general.

This Congress shall also be an opportunity to assess the state of the global trade union movement, particularly in the context of the international trade crisis, as manifested in the recent WTO ministerial collapse and the EPAs that, through EU bully tacti cs and arms-twisting tactics, they were

COSATU is humbled to play its part in contributing to the raging momentum for a united, strong and progressive trade union movement in the region, ready and capable of providing leadership to workers in the context of deepening challenges. This mammoth tas k of building such a movement rests on the shoulders of all of us and will require our collective wisdom and contribution. The challenges before us are numerous and the crisis are deepening, so should our commitment be deeper. We seek to build very close r elations with unions and workers in our regions, for an even more determined pursuit of a new agenda and momentum in our region.

We look forward to a successful and meaningful Congress and shall await the marching orders with keenness, always ready and determined to take them forward with such eagerness.

Bongani Masuku

International Relations Officer

Congress of South African Trade Unions

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