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Input to the Conference of the MKMVA held at Birchwood Conference Centre presented by Sidumo Dlamini, COSATU President
14 October 2012
I think it is important that right from the onset I clarify some of the basic things about COSATU, the African National Congress and MK.
Firstly, we come to address this congress not as friends of the ANC, but as strategic revolutionary allies who shared, and continue to share, the trenches of war against colonialism of a Special Type with the ANC.
Secondly, we did not and continue not to participate in this struggle simply as beneficiaries but as part of the South African working class whose hard conditions of life compelled them to be at the forefront amongst the ranks of the Congress Movement to attain the National Democratic Revolution vision.
Our participation in the struggle was, and continues to be, based on our bitter and practical experiences and also the realisation that racial oppression and domination against blacks in particular and Africans in general, was a precondition for their exploitation as workers.
We therefore participate in this revolution clear about who we are and our role in the struggle.
We know that we are the most organised detachment of the working class and therefore we subject ourselves to the revolutionary discipline of the working class as a whole, which is the conscious and uncompromising leading detachment of the motive forces of our revolution as led by the ANC.
As Karl Marx put it that, “of all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie..., the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class.
The other classes decay and finally disappear in the face of modern industry; the proletariat is its special and essential product.
The lower middle class , the small manufacturer, the shopkeeper, the artisan, the peasant, all these fight against the bourgeoisie to save from extinction their existence as fractions of the middle class. They are therefore not revolutionary, but conservative.
If by any chance they are revolutionary , they are so only in view of their impending transfer into the proletariat , they thus defend not their present , but their future interests; they desert their own standpoint to place themselves at that of the proletariat”
We understand that the leading role of the working class, its resilience and its consistent, uncompromising posture is not decreed but is based in its enduring organisational power, its location within the productive forces, its unity, and numbers, and its ongoing exploitation.
We know that the working class has the responsibility of uniting the widest range of classes and social strata in a common struggle for the realisation of the strategic objectives of the National Democratic Revolution.
Proceeding from this understanding of how we understand ourselves and our role, we are coming to this Congress to speak to our own.
The history of our revolution bears testimony to the facts that you are our own.
It was not a mistake that amongst the members of the Luthuli Detachment who participated in the Wankie Spolilo operation, which was the first MK group, to have physical combat with the enemy, were trade unionists such as comrade Eric Mtshali , Justice "Gizenga" Mpanza, Archie “ Zola Zembe” Sibeko, Mark Shope etc.
And they were amongst the first to receive military training in the Soviet Union.
The 1978 Politico-Military Commissions Report contained what was later to be popularly referred as the Green Book said that “the armed struggle must be based on, and grow out of, mass political support and it must eventually involve all our people. All military activities must at every stage be guided by and determined by the need to generate political mobilization, organization and resistance, with the aim of progressively weakening the enemy’s grip on his reins of political, economic, social and military power, by a combination of political and military action.”
Proceeding from this perspective as workers and the trade union movement, we can give testimony to the proud and gallant role played by MK in our own struggles as workers and in the broader liberation struggle.
We know that with the intensification of the struggle in the 1980s, MK activities became integral to the trade union struggles, leading to many MK operations directly linked to strengthening workers struggle at the point production.
As COSATU, we later saw comrades testifying in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission [TRC] on their roles as commanders of the MK units.
Amongst those many units was the called “Operation Butterfly Unit”.
Amongst those who testified were the late comrade Sihle Mbongwa (Indoda Engaziwa), Qonda Msomi (uSondoda) and Thuso (uFini), who testified that the limpet mines which exploded on 27th September 1985 at OK Bazaars, and Game in Durban West Street, were directed at the dispute between unions and management which was refusing to accede to workers demands.
We had seen similar coherency in our struggle when the Chemical Workers Industrial Union led successful stayaways in the then Pretoria-Witwatersrand-Vereeniging [PWV] region in 1984 which disrupted SASOL which at that time was completing a process of privatization.
Sasol had become a symbol of South African independence. It was South Africa’s answer to the oil embargo and through those struggles, the apartheid project was disrupted. History will show that MK targeted and bombed SASOL twice.
As workers, we have always stood ready to be the first in the line of fire when moments of action called. It is not a mistake that among the first members of the ANC to be executed by the Apartheid Regime in March 1964 were trade unionists, comrade Vuyisile Mini, who served as a secretary of the Metal Workers Union.
It is also not a mistake that a substantial number of the ANC leaders, who were in the Treason Trial were Trade Unionist. Amongst these comrades were comrade Lawrence Nkosi, Billy Nair, Lesley Masina, Harry Gwala, Curnick Ndlovu and many others.
In the Rivonia Treason Trial again most of those arrested as part of the MK high command were Trade Unionists. These included comrade Raymond Mhlaba, Elias Motsoaledi and many others,
We know that there are many more names and operations of MK which can be associated with the trade union struggle.
We want to challenge the MKMVA to make their project to detail the historical facts which must demonstrate the organic relationship between MK activities and trade union struggles.
Actually, you must consider having a joint political education project with COSATU on this matter. The history of our revolution must be written by those with first- hand experience and MKMVA must lead that process.
The gains of our revolution and the work as COSATU we continue to do, cannot be insulted by those, who want to dress themselves in the borrowed robes of MK and the trade union movement; shouting the slogans of war as if they know war, insulting everyone, who differs with their views as if insults alone are enough to persuade people to agree with their views.
They go out to openly insulting the leadership of our movement, openly countering and organizing against the National Union of Mineworkers [NUM] in the mines in order to weaken the NUM as a gateway to weakening COSATU and ultimately to getting to the ANC.
Destroying the Congress Movement must not be allowed in our name.
This conference must send a clear message that MKMVA and COSATU remains as vigilant as we were before 1994 against the enemies of our revolution, who are dressing themselves in our colours and shouting our slogans, only to deceive the masses.
What we have seen and continue to see happening in the mining sector is not without its own historical, political and economic basis.
And any genuine revolutionary, who is genuine about freedom, will not use those platforms to attack the movement but use them to deepen class war against the class enemy which are the employers.
The fact of the matter is that workers of this country are paid less as compared to the wealth they produce and also incomes of their bosses.
The mining bosses have refused to implement the mining charter which called for an increase in ownership by the mining communities and also to have the mining employers play a role in the transformation of the mining communities.
The mining bossed have done very little if anything, and where they did something, it was only for political window-dressing.
It is for this reason that as COSATU, we have called for a second commission from the Judicial Commission of Enquiry announced by the president which will be focusing on the killings.
As COSATU, we will be participating in the Judicial Commission of Enquiry and we will be working with the NUM, the ANC and the SACP, in making presentation about the killings which started long before the 16th August 2012 and continues up to this day.
We have called for a second commission which will investigate the employment and social conditions of workers in the mining industry, historically and at present.
The Commission will have also to look at the global context of the industry.
We want it to be of a scale similar to the 1979 Wiehahn Commission into Labor Legislation and the 1995 Leon Commissions into Health and Safety on the Mines.
We want to warn those who continue to kill our people, and those who continue to insult the leadership of our movement and setting up units to destabilize and weaken the NUM: Our patience is not endless!
We will soon be calling on our people to defend themselves.
Comrade, Chris Hani taught us that it is those, who knows how to fight, who will be the first to call for peace.
Sithi kubo ningayijahi impi iyabulala!
We call on members of the MKMVA to work with our structures on the ground as we explain facts to people, who are being intimidated to resign from the NUM, whose attitudes are being hardened against the movement as a whole as if it is the ANC or government which is responsible for the low pay and conditions of work, when in fact it is the bosses who must take full responsibility.
We’ve got to have MKMVA members using their guerrilla military skills to work with us on the ground to defend this movement and our revolution as a whole which is being threatened by demagogues, who are seeking political survival by all means and at all costs, even at the cost of the very revolution they claim to advance.
As COSATU we have said: “Our task in the current conjuncture is to defend the ANC 52nd National Conference progressive resolutions and ensure that we embark on a series of campaigns to ensure their effective implementation. The political task of the working class in this conjuncture is to defend the leadership collective elected in this conference against those who have from inception launched campaigns to put this leadership on the back foot and who have undermined their authority.
“Our task is to work with government to realize the common objectives summarized in the ANC elections manifesto of 2009, and ensure that the programme of decent work is taken forward. We want the government to succeed on its five priorities because we know their failure will spell disaster for the working class.
“We will do so not by becoming uncritical supporters of both the ANC and government leadership.
We shall at all times engage strategically with the ANC to ensure that it builds capacity and has the necessary confidence to act decisively to lead the Alliance and society.
At the same time, when the leadership allows paralysis and lack of confidence in our movement, we shall, in a principled fashion, speak out and embark on campaigns to ensure that the revolution stays on track.
We shall at all times engage the ANC leadership on our concerns so that they may appreciate why we have chosen to embark on such campaigns.”
We are coming from our 11th National Congress drawing inspiration from the recommendations of the ANC policy conference which called for radical second phase of our transition.
We are now preparing for the ANC 53rd Conference to be held in Mangaung and we are going there to argue that the radical phase of the second phase of our transition will require the programme of the movement must be clearly biased towards the working class.
And also that it must be based on an agreed platform which is implemented by government; that we deliberately build an activist interventionist state and that the ANC-led Alliance should constitutes the strategic centre of power which directs the National Democratic Revolution [NDR].
In this context we will go to the 53rd National Conference to argue strongly that the ANC should not “behave like a shapeless jelly-fish with a political form that is fashioned hither and thither by the multiple contradictory forces of sea-waves”, but the ANC must be overwhelmingly be about the working class which occupies the front ranks in the National Democratic Revolution and its programmes.
And the ANC shall always reflect this dominant character without underplaying the other class interests.
We will argue for the maintenance of a perspective “that the kind of democracy which the ANC pursues should lean towards the poor; and recognize the leading role of the working class in the project of social transformation. Recognizing the reality of unequal gender relations, and the fact that the majority of the poor are African women, the ANC pursues gender equality in all practical respects. In this context, the ANC is a disciplined force of the left, organized to conduct consistent struggle in pursuit of a caring society in which the well-being of the poor receives focused and consistent attention".
In our view comrades, there can be no radical second phase of transition if the ANC does not prepare to generate a programmes that are driven and supported by the masses.
We want to go to Mangaung and reclaim the mass line as a defining character of the ANC.
The fact of the matter comrades is that over the years even after Polokwane, we have abandoned the mass line and remained with a mass perspective which allowed us to tap into the mass strength during elections only and to abandon them after elections during policy formulation in government.
In the recent past, we have been dismayed by how the masses have been ignored on their call for scrapping of e-tolls in Gauteng and banning of labour brokers.
The ANC has in the process stopped putting values in the application of the mass line, the concept which represents the revolutionary perspective of our movement.
The mass line is the primary method of revolutionary leadership of the masses, which is employed by the most conscious and best organised section of the masses.
It is a reiterative method, applied over and over again, which step-by-step advances the interests of the masses, and in particular their central interest within bourgeois society.
The ANC has over the years conflated and replaced the mass line with the mass perspective. These are different but integral concepts which reinforce each other.
In other words, the existence of a mass perspective will allow the organisation to put value in the application of a mass line but that does not happen automatically.
It is a conscious effort informed by the desire to direct the revolution to a particular outcome.
The organisational prerequisite for the ANC, if we are to succeed in the second transition, will be a conscious application of the mass line, which propelled the ANC to the watershed 1949 Conference and beyond and that propelled the ANC to convene the Congress of the People which adopted the Freedom Charter.
It is the same things which led to the ANC convening the watershed 1969 Morogoro Conference.
It is actually the ANC’s adherence to the mass line which took us to the 1994 breakthrough, albeit with the emergence of alien tendencies which began to emerge during the negotiations in which the masses began to be treated as secondary.
The ANC must asserting the mass line if the second transition is to enjoy any credibility among the masses which the ANC leads.
The period we are going through and the period of the radical second phase of our transition will require the political commissars and real commanders must practically occupy the front ranks of our revolution.
We want practical answers from the MKMVA!