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  |  COSATU Press Statements

COSATU disgusted by diatribe by ‘Friends of the Youth League’

27 August 2012

The Congress of South Africa Trade Unions has noted with disgust the dishonouring of Congress movement principles by the so-called ‘Friends of the Youth League’ (FYL) - a pseudo political ‘party’ - in its attack on the COSATU President, Sidumo Dlamini, in an open letter.

It is not only an offensive insult to the President but an attack on the Federation in general, and its collective leadership. It is also highly offensive for former Youth League members to dishonour all women, in particular all those in the health profession, by addressing the President of a Global Social Justice Movement as ‘sister Sdumo’.

For the record, male nurses within the industry are addressed as ‘Sirs’ and female nurses as ‘Sisters’. The President is one of the proudest ‘sirs’ within the nursing profession and also a senior leader of the largest union federations in Africa and the world, which played a critical part in winning the right to freedom of association ushered in by the sound constitutional principles we achieved in the 1994 breakthrough.

COSATU will not be deterred by such sexist and un-called-for insults, such as that the President’s “only exposure to struggle is in hospital wards and fighting amongst fellow sisters and mid-wives”.

The FYL’s sexist attack displays a scandalous insensitivity to the broader gender struggles still being fought within the Alliance movement. It shows total disrespect for the noble service delivered daily by all nursing professionals in this country and elsewhere, and to all women, by using ‘sister’ as a term of ridicule.

To suggest that workers in the nursing profession in particular and the health sector in general have no potential to produce a leader of his calibre, tramples on Congress Movement principles - respect for democratically agreed policies, respect for the presidency and respect for collective leadership.

To suggest that unionists must resign from progressive trade unions shows their shallowness in understanding that ‘No Worker is a good Members of Congress unless he is also a Trade Unionist’, and that ‘No Trade Unionist is a good Trade Unionist unless he is also a Member of Congress’.

We do not take this uncalled for attack lightly. This pseudo-political party has ignored important arguments which were raised during the YCLSA Public Lecture on a ‘Shared History by the Alliance’, in which the President of COSATU was deployed to deliver a message of support.

Unpacking the Marikana Tragedy cannot become a ‘specialised path or fiefdom’ by some demagogues bent on undermining the tenacious work of COSATU as the Shield of the Workers!

We call upon all like-minded progressive organization such as NEHAWU, DENOSA, SADNU, SAMA, the Progressive Women’s Movement and lastly the African National Congress Women’s League, to refuse to allow the ‘FYL’ to undermine the profession which has provided life-sustaining and life-saving treatment and care in the health service.

COSATU takes a dim view of the FYL’s desperate struggle for political survival based on approach of insulting whoever does not ‘quorate’ on their ‘political agenda’.

These attacks are also related to those by forces currently intent on undermine worker unity, by forming splinter ‘unions’, with no clear agenda and/or strategy, but to dislodge the mighty COSATU.

COSATU reiterates its condemnation of these ‘Johnny-come-latelys’ and calls on all members to be not misled by their irresponsible utterances.

As it advances towards its 11th National Congress in September 2012, COSATU calls upon all trade unionists to disown the disgruntled ex-union and ex-ANCYL leaders using worker issues for their narrow political agendas.

COSATU has total respect for its leadership collective in general and the president in particular. He is a great workers’ leader!

Norman Mampane (Communications Officer)
Congress of South African Trade Unions

Tel: +27 11 339-4911 or Direct 010 219-1342
Mobile: +27 72 416 3790
E-Mail: mampane@cosatu.org.za