Master of Ceremonies,
President of the ANC and the Republic, cde. Cyril Ramaphosa,
Leadership of the ANC, COSATU and the SACP,
The members of our movement, the ANC, and workers across South Africa,
Comrades, please accept warm greetings from your ally, COSATU. We are honoured to be here today to celebrate the 110th anniversary of our beloved movement, the ANC.
The leadership and members of COSATU have spent the past week visiting workers across Limpopo as part of the build up for today’s celebrations. We have listened to farm workers in Tzaneen, municipal workers in Vhembe, the unemployed in Sekhukhune. The message is clear. Workers love the ANC.
Equally they are angered by corruption, by municipal workers unpaid, SAMWU shopstewards assassinated in Vhembe for exposing corruption and their murderers not brought to book, potholes never fixed, load shedding and 46% unemployed. Workers want us to listen, to fix South Africa. Are we able to? Are we willing to?
Let us rebuild and save the ANC before it is too late
January 8th has always been a proud moment. It was when OR Tambo issued the call to arms to the nation in the struggle against apartheid. When millions remembered the vision of the ANC’s founders who they gathered in Bloemfontein in 1912, including traditional leaders such as Hosi Muhlava I from Letaba. Theirs was a bold call laying the foundations for a united, non-racial, non-sexist democratic South Africa.
We are proud of these giants. We are determined to honour the sacrifices of Albert Luthuli, Solomon Mahlangu, Gertrude Shope and Joe Slovo.
Let us celebrate, defend and build upon the victories of the ANC and the Alliance
At times we forget the many achievements of the ANC led Alliance. It is this ANC led Alliance of OR Tambo and Chris Hani which ensured the 1994 democratic breakthrough. The opposition parties of today did not exist.
The ANC of Madiba drafted our Constitution. The ANC working with COSATU put in place our progressive labour laws providing paid time off, maternity and paternity leave, that protect workers from the worst abuses and the right to work in safety.
It is the ANC since 1994 that increased the number of homes receiving electricity, water and sanitation from 30% to over 90%, that built millions of houses, that provides free basic education and school meals to millions, provides free allocations of electricity and water to the poor, has helped millions to go to university through NSFAS, and provides social grants to more than 27 million people.
It is the ANC led by President Ramaphosa, that tabled the National Health Insurance Bill at Parliament to ensure quality healthcare for all, and the Expropriation Bill to accelerate land reform so farm workers and the poor may own land to produce food and build homes.
President Ramaphosa worked with COSATU to ensure the National Minimum Wage, a key demand of the Freedom Charter, became reality, raising the wages of more than 6 million workers. In 2021, 800 000 farm workers reached the National Minimum Wage. In 2022, 900 000 domestic workers’ wages will rise from R19 to R23 per hour.
In our battles with Covid-19, the ANC administration worked with COSATU and social partners at Nedlac to curb the pandemic, ensure all have access to free vaccines, that R63 billion was released from the UIF to more than 5.5 million workers so they could feed their families, the R350 SRD grant was provided to more than 8 million unemployed, companies were provided tax relief to prevent retrenchments, and when the violence erupted in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng swift relief was provided.
The ANC government worked with COSATU to draft the Economic Recovery and Reconstruction Plan to prioritise rebuilding Eskom, fixing our trains, tackling corruption, ramping up local procurement and growing the economy.
Let us accept responsibilities for our failings
Whilst many good achievements benefiting millions have occurred, there are also serious challenges and failures that have happened under our watch.
Many municipal and DENEL workers are sent home unpaid. Public servants received no increase in 2020. 2.2 million workers lost their jobs not only in the private sector, but also at SAA, SABC and SA Express. Public services are deteriorating.
COSATU welcomes the Zondo Commission Report into State Capture and Corruption. It tells us what we all know, that comrades, amongst us, orchestrated corruption and state capture at a level never seen before. Workers have paid the price for corruption.
Law enforcement must act swiftly. Those implicated must be arrested, prosecuted and their assets seized. We want them in orange overalls. The ANC if it is to redeem itself, it must expel such criminals. If we continue to normalise corruption, then voters will remove the ANC from government in 2024. It’s that simple.
The behaviour of some amongst us, who as President Mbeki said, wear ANC t-shirts, sing ANC songs but are not ANC, is destroying our movement. We can no longer tolerate factionalism, criminality and hooliganism.
Ours is not an easy task. Continue as is and the ANC will die. Or deal with corruption, cleanse the ANC, fix the state, grow the economy, create jobs, provide reliable electricity and efficient trains.
COSATU’s choice is clear. We must rise to the occasion. The ANC can count on COSATU’s support in this struggle.
We dare not fail.