Thank you, Comrade Program Director
The National Office Bearers
Comrade Kagiso Makoe, the Communications Media Liaison
The NUPSAW leadership of Free State
The SAFTU Provincial Secretary Noma `Mokuoa
The North West Provincial Deputy Secretary, Cde Cecilia Mabona
The Northern Cape Provincial Chairperson, Cde Thage and the Provincial Treasurer, Cde Orateng Disipi
As the National Office Bearers, it is fitting and proper to echo the same sentiments by the GS and congratulate those who organised this Congress. The set- up is out of this world.
Let me begin by paying tribute to our leaders, family members and friends who succumbed to covid 19 related complications from NUPSAW and the SAFTU federation. Indeed, this pandemic has robbed us and the whole world of potentially gallant activists.
May they find eternal rest, and we wish to assure them that we will continue to hoist high the union flag.
Since the introduction of the lockdown period 394 days ago, life has not been kind to all of us as we have been affected one way or the other. This had also exposed us as NUPSAW with regard to how we disseminate information to our respective structures, and had we been proactive in embracing the 4IR when it was first introduced; perhaps things would not be so bad. We have been paralysed to the point of immobility when our members needed us more than ever. But we are learning to live under this new normal.
On Tuesday, the country would be commemorating 27 years since we became independent from the white minority rule. I guess the majority of you would confirm that we only gained political independence and not economic freedom as power still rests with the former oppressors, in particular the mining sector and the food security. The rainbow nation is still racially divided in its electoral behaviour, and the income gap between blacks and whites is greater than it was in 1994. Indeed, the more things, the more they have looked the same.
So, with this in mind that on the 27th of October this year, when we vote in the local government elections, it would be advisable to vote with our thoughts and not our hearts. It’s important that, as NUPSAW, we need to embark on our own voter education to open the eyes of most South Africans who still regard the ANC as a liberation movement and not a ruling political party. The less said about their empty elections promises, the better.
We meet today as the public service and the trade movement are facing really tough times in South Africa under the government of the African National Congress let by its chief capitalist Ramaphosa and his so-called new dawn.
The attacks against us are primarily political, backed by an increasingly powerful corporate and financial sector. As workers, we never thought that a former trade unionist would be the one introducing such austerity measures against the workers he once purported to represent.
These attacks have increased in intensity, starting with the government refusing to honour the PSCBC Resolution 1 of 2018 on the salary adjustments and improvement of conditions of service.
In the public domain, the COSATU unions are calling for worker unity, but behind closed doors, they are conniving with this oppressive government to ensure that NUPSAW is kicked out of all bargaining councils.
It’s tough being in a trade union but very scary if you do not belong to any union right now in South Africa. That is why it is important to continue to fight for a strong trade union that would be militant in fighting for the working class and the poor, a union that would always be ready to engage in the transformation of our societies to counter capitalist exploitation, inequalities and poverty, a union independent from employers and from political parties – but not apolitical in nature.
A union that has financial self – sufficiency, accountability, and opposed to corruption, fraud and maladministration within its own ranks.
We must be a strong trade union that will organise in the most effective manner to represent workers and serve their interests and not our own selfish interests.
That union comrade is NUPSAW.
Without ethical leadership, which lately is becoming a rare trait, without unity and cohesion, this would be just a pipe dream.
Now, more than ever before, we certainly don’t need a union that would continuously be tearing itself apart because of petty leadership issues.
NUPSAW is not in a position after every Congress to be embroiled in infighting because some of us did not get elected to certain positions
Anyone whose sole intention of joining this union is to become a leader at all costs, even if it means dividing the members, be warned, you are in the wrong organisation.
A true and principled leader will not tell people to vote for him or her nor buy votes. Ordinarily, members would be able to recognise you if you are a leader. No need to compel members or delegates to vote for you. This has never been the NUPSAW culture ever since its establishment in 1998.
Leadership is elected through consensus after deliberation and not through the barrel of a gun.
All of us who are here today, the National leadership and members in general, do not doubt that we are members in good standing – that we subscribe to the NUPSAW vision and mission statements, and that we want answers to the question that has troubled our conscience ever since the last inaugural Provincial Congress. And that question is, “Has the leadership that we elected fulfilled our mandate of promoting unity amongst the workers?”
Have we at all material times put the workers first?
Has this outgoing leadership brought real solutions to the Office in which they were elected and not just become the conveyor belts of members’ complaints to the NEC and the General Secretary’s Office?
How many resolutions did the Provincial Executive Council take and implemented?
Do our meetings serve the purpose, or have we turned them into money-making schemes that were meet without a formal agenda and minutes of the last meeting being adopted and signed? Get quick cash in the form of travelling claims and after that depart to our respective homes to enjoy whilst those we claim to be representing continue to suffer the employers’?
Have we grown the Free State Province, or has membership deteriorated under our leadership?
Are all the structures in place?
Do we have shop stewards in all the institutions?
What is preventing us from being a majority union at Pelonomi Hospital?
We warned you during the inaugural launching congress that it was not yet Uhuru. There was still much to do. It cannot be that you only wanted to be at 1000 members to launch a province and relax.
Lately, we see a very negative culture developing similar to the ANC, where members vigorously defend leaders with corrupt tendencies because they come from the same region or department. At Whose Expense?
Let’s not be allowed to turn this union of ours into a family divorce court where when one partner leaves, they leave with children. It is therefore not uncommon to hear members threatening to leave because so and so is being disciplined. You are adults. For heaven, sake doesn’t let the leadership play with and abuse your emotions and your love of NUPSAW.
Some of you will be elected today in this Congress and have agreed and signed nomination forms without being coerced to do so. Do not make lack of induction and orientation to be an excuse for defrauding the union money and misrepresenting members when you have both the Constitution and the policy documents at your disposal. READ.
An ancient maxim of the law is ignorant non-excusat. Simply put, ignorance of the law does not excuse. It is presumed that we know the law, and defence of ignorance is typically not allowed
Start limiting your time on soapies and posting useless things on social media as these are bound to catch with you at a later stage.
I consider all of us to be Christians here and allow me to refer to the Bible. Ephesians 5: 15 17 says, “So then, be careful how you live. Do not be unwise but wise, making the best use of your time because the times are evil.”
We continue to face immense challenges as workers, which the leadership collective will have to confront urgently because time has never been on our side.
And if you see what is happening currently in the world and South Africa, you would be doing yourselves a favour by being vigilant.
And how will we remain vigilant and put the workers first if the better part of our tenure in Office is spending fighting each other instead of the real enemy? Who are the employer and its sweetheart unions?
We cannot even begin to fight for the bread and butter issues pertaining to the members that elected us.
Are we familiar with the famous expression attributed to Rome’s emperor at the time, the decadent and unpopular Nero who fiddled while Rome burned?
This has never been so relevant to trade unionists during our time. This expression has a double meaning to all of us gathered here today. Not only did Nero play music while his people suffered, but he was an ineffectual leader in a time of crisis. That is what we are doing.
We are so obsessed with the thought of leading that we care less about the people we want to show. If we are honest, we will accept any leadership role given to us because we are called to serve and not regard this as status. Some have self – inflated egos that they would even tell members that It’s either I become the Provincial Chairperson and no other position at all. What is so special about being the chairperson or president?
Therefore, while we are busy fighting to be elected into positions in which we know we are incapable of executing its responsibilities, this is what is happening in South Africa, which needs our urgent attention.
We are not growing as NUPSAW. We have said countless times that you have the power to bargain when you have the numbers. We cannot negotiate from an already weakened position of being the minority. We cannot conquer if we are divided. Only when we are united, focused on the enemy can we be in a position to bargain with the employer.
Because of infighting, we are not even aware that the whole of South Africa may be plunged into the possibility of total darkness as Oracle withdrew its IT software technical services over an alleged R7,3 billion payment dispute with the power utility Eskom.
Our own organisers had actually embraced the lockdown period to the point that there was little or no organising at all, even when our own members were crying loud to us about the lack of PPEs.
We cannot even begin to organise campaigns for free decolonised tertiary education. Our silence as NUPSAW on socio-political issues has been very loud even when our own members were compelled to work without PPEs.
South Africa is fighting yet another pandemic – the senseless killing of women and children, and we are so quiet, yet we have women as the majority in our ranks. We even vilify those who are in leadership positions instead of supporting them.
The good news is that all is not yet lost.
Let us come out of this Congress re-energised.
Let us all pledge our support to those that are going to be elected today, and they, in turn, must honour this call as an honour to serve.
In conclusion, a very loyal and dedicated servant of this trade union, comrade Success Mataitsane will be going on retirement at the end of this year. We wish him a well-deserved rest. The only befitting present that we can give to him is to ensure that NUPSAW continues to be the most powerful and progressive union in both the public and private sectors.
Let us, therefore, enjoy, debate and resolve issues amicably in this Congress as comrades and not as adversaries.
Good luck, and may we continue to grow NUPSAW.