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Address by Deputy President David Mabuza on the Occasion of International Workers Day Rally, Curries Fountain Sports Ground, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal

1 May 2018

Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Comrade Willies Mchunu,
Leadership of the Tripartite Alliance and SANCO,
Our Religious Leaders,
Traditional Leadership,
Comrades, Compatriots, and friends,

I bring you revolutionary greetings from the National Executive Committee of Africa's glorious liberation movement, the African National Congress. We convey our good wishes to you on this International Workers Day.

Today is a day for workers to rightfully claimtheir victories in their struggles for basic working conditions and fair labour practices.

It is a day to reassert yours, and our commitment, to the achievement of fair international labour standards and solidarity. It is a day for unity, solidarity, and for taking the injuries of one for all.

It is a day for workers to stake a battle againstexploitation and to regain the power that is inherent in the blood and sweat of your labour.

Today is your day for reflecting on victories scored by workers as well as your historic and legitimate demand for fairness and justice, rights and recourse, employment and security.

It is your day for reminding us that yours is, always and has been, a struggle for a united, non-racial, non-sexist, just and prosperous society.
It is also a day to unambiguously state that divisions, intolerance, and rivalry within the working class only serve to undermine the struggles of the poor and workers of our land.

Divisions and mutual intolerance within our ranks, is not what outstanding trade unionists like JB Marks, Steven Dhlamini, John Gomomo, Elijah Barayi, John Nkadimeng, Billy Nair, Ray Alexander and Emmah Mashinini fought for.

In this regard, we reiterate our condemnation ofthe violent protest in Mooi River where 35 trucks were burned down on the major highway thereby leading to disruption of movement of people and negatively impacting on the transportation and logistics industry.

No matter how genuine our demands can be, there is no justification for the use of violence, intimidation and promotion of xenophobia. This is not what we are about as South Africans. This is not what the international worker solidarity is about.

This is yet another painful irony, that weapons conceived for revolutionary purposes of our liberation are now used against struggling workers for criminal ends, to rob the working class their very liberation they fought hard for.


The ANC is clear about its pro-poor and working-class bias. The actions of successive ANC-governments from 1994 have given effect to workers' rights. We have put in place a basket of social services and social security support that alleviate the burdens of the poor and unemployed.

Under the ANC; workers and the working class enjoy, amongst others:

  •  Recognition of the rights of workers in the Constitution
  • Recognition of socio-economic rights in the Constitution
  • Enactment of legislation such as LabourRelations Act, the Employment Equity Act and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.
  • A number of social services, such as access to free medical services for pregnant women and children under six, RDP housing, free education for the working-class children, social securitygrants that make concrete difference in the lives of poor and working-class, to name but a few.

This has been achieved because we remained true to our strategic objective as well as our commitment to Unity and Struggle that will bring about change in the lives of our people.


The Resolutions of the ANC's NASREC (54th) Conference build on this existing base and take many of the gains of the poor and working class forward. Together, we shall ensure that the programme for radical socio-economic transformation is implemented to ensure a better life for all.

The ANC committed itself to the fundamental renewal of the organisation, the Alliance and the broader mass democratic movement. We shall strengthen organisational capacity and have instructed ANC branches to become vibrant organs that attract the most active, brightest and most upstanding members of communities to the structures of the ANC.

We must empower members to stamp out gatekeeping, buying of votes and other forms of undemocratic practices in our structures. As the ANC leadership, we are adamant that our structures remain open to all who subscribe to the values and principles of the movement.

The ANC has demonstrated our commitment to strengthening organisational capacity by employing NEC members on a full-time basis in the areas of Organising, Elections and we are in the process of strengthening political education and other areas.

One of the most important decisions that the ANC took during the 54th Conference is to intensify our programmes and actions aimed at dealing with corruption. We are embarking on a targeted programme to strengthen our understanding of ANC values, ethics and morality as part of the programme of organisational renewal.

Another component of this, is an instruction to all ANC deployees to improve state capacity to successfully investigate and prosecute corruption and account for any failure to do so. The people of South Africa are seeing the impact of this renewed commitment to stamping out corruption.

It is undeniable that the run-up to the 54th National Conference was a period of disunity and strife. We are undergoing a process of painstakingly rebuilding the unity of our movement around the objectives of putting in place a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.

Building unity requires work, being frank about our challenges and committing to the common goal of working together to place our movement on a solid footing to serve the people of South Africa. Unity will not emerge miraculously if our comrades are still operating in factions and destroying one another.

The duty to build genuine unity rests with each and every one of us. We must never get tired in our quest to forge unity and struggle.

The Alliance must be strengthened and built and we must embark on a clear programme to deal with the lingering tensions amongst us. All of us must listen to one another and engage on the basis of mutual respect and appreciation for one another as independent formations in a longstanding strategic alliance.

The implementation of the National Minimum Wage, which has been in the works since 2014, will take place during 2018. We urge our MPs to conclude the Parliamentary processes with the necessary vigilance and speed.

In acknowledgement of the disruptive impact of the 4th Industrial Revolution and increased automation and use of ICT; the ANC took a resolution to explore and maximize new investment opportunities and invest in digital skills. As workers, we must not shun these changes but must prepare ourselves to meet both the challenges and opportunities presented to us.

This area is already being explored as a niche industry with significant potential for addressing youth unemployment and creating successful young entrepreneurs. The president has signaled his intention to set up a Digital (ICT) Commission and government is working with both organized labour and business to create training and employment opportunities in this area.

Our overall economic policy continues to be guided by the Freedom Charter's call that the people shall share in the country's wealth and all our actions must be measured against this.

We see State Owned Companies such as Eskom, Transnet and others as important agents of delivery of our developmental mandate. These entities can play an important role in providing services to the people.

The ANC leadership in government has taken important steps to improve the governance of SOEs such as Denel and Eskom and we expect this process to continue. Workers must be at the forefront of ensuring that we turn these institutions into formidable weapons of development.

As is known; the ANC resolved that expropriation of land without compensation forms a key component of our land reform and redistribution programme. This shall be done in a manner that promotes investment in the economy and ensures agricultural production and food security.

The ANC is a responsible organization. We are committed to the overall well-being of our country and that is why we shall continue our comprehensive land reform programme in an orderly and constitutional manner. We are currently embarking on a series of public consultations to ensure that we take all of South Africa onboard on this matter.

The ANC is very concerned about the disparity between incomes of executives and incomes of workers. We are adamant that this issue must be addressed as soon as possible as we must not perpetuate a situation where those at the top continue to live in utmost luxury whilst the working class continues to languish in poverty.

On this May Day, we are also here to tell the bosses of our vast land to sit back, see, feel and care for the plight of their workers; to call for a sense of shared humanity, to tame our relentless pursuit of wealth and obscene profits in a sea of poverty.

We are here to call each other out on ourpropensity for greed and self-inoculation from the realities of the majority of our people.

These are people who work hard but struggle to see real progress. They are South Africans who wish to wake up every morning with the pride and dignity of pulling themselves up by their boot straps.

They are compatriots who want to do an honest day's work.

These are men and women of immense faith. They want to have something to show for their daily toil. And so they pray to leave a proud legacy for their children.


As we prepared to seize power in the 1994 elections, we said in the Reconstruction and Development Plan (RDP):

"No political democracy can survive and flourish if the mass of our people remain in poverty, without land, without tangible prospects for a better life. Attacking poverty and deprivation must therefore be the first priority of a democratic government."

Together with South African workers, we must remain relentless in deracialising the untenable structure of our economy.

Working together we must expand the frontiers of freedom by changing the ownership patterns of the economy to benefit all South Africans, not just a privileged few.

Together we must accelerate the transformation of our economy, return the land to the people as a whole, and build an inclusive economy thatrestores the dignity of the working class, the majority of whom are black, female, and African.

Together we must build a shared economy thatinstils hope and pride in young people; an economy that will empower them with appropriate skills and unlock their talent; an economy that does not condemn them to a life of permanent vagabonds in the land of their ancestors.

South African workers deserve employers who will guarantee their safety in the workplace; employers that will assure families that workers will return home well and wholesome.

We yearn for more caring and ethical employers who are invested in their workers returning home tall with their bodily integrity and not coldin a coffin.

We want workplaces that allow women to breastfeed; to have time to nurture future generations; where to raise a child does not mean stunting of growth, promotion or opportunity.  

We want equal pay for men and women, black and white, for equal work and equal contribution.

We want workplaces that will punish and call out sexual predation; empower women to grow without bequests of sexual favours and rendering the female body an economic enterprise.
We want workers who come home in time to put their children to bed, in time to assist with homework, in time to attend school parents'consultation and with time to play on weekends.

We must again dream of world where work can become a joy and rewarding, not just a perpetual debt, pain, and torture to be copied with.

For our part as government, we know that a minimum wage of R3500 cannot sustain the family; we know it subjects the worker to the pain of having to come home empty handed; but at least today we have determined the floor from which we need to move and do better.

Government must still do its part to ensure that it lowers the burden of VAT and other taxes on the poor. But this we cannot achieve without your involvement. It is still your struggle to wage, it is still your vision to create, and your destiny to reach.

It is by the courage of your convictions and solidarity that we learn to become one nation with one purpose.

Our long walk to freedom is far from over. Much more still needs to be done to wrestle our people from the clutches of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

Only when we are united can we do more tofight these challenges and attain the South Africa of our dreams.

In our hearts, in our words, in our actions, let us continue to be the living truth of Amilcar Cabral:  

"Always bear in mind that the people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone's head. They are fighting to win material benefit, to live betters and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children…Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes and failures. Claim no easy victories. Tell no lies!"

Have yourselves a fulfilling and rewarding Worker's Day!
I thank you.
employment, reduction of inequality and a decisive advance in rolling back the frontiers of poverty. Radical economic transformation also means that we will accelerate the pace towards the total deracialization of our economy. All our people, especially workers who are the creators of wealth, will benefit immensely from our efforts to undermine the glaring legacy of apartheid and colonialism in the economy generally and at the workplace particularly.

When our economy starts growing at 4, 5 and 6 percent a year - and when the benefits of that growth are shared among the poor and working class - that is a victory for workers.

When new factories are built, when new land is cultivated, when more tourists arrive, when more finished products are exported, that is a victory for workers.

When poor black farmers take ownership of land, when poor families move into houses closer to places of work, when agricultural productivity increases and food security improves, that is a victory for workers.

When our state owned companies are properly managed, when our government provides services to our people efficiently, when municipalities maintain social infrastructure, that is a victory for workers.

When mining exploration starts again in earnest, when new shipyards are built, when our special economic zones are flooded with new investment, when small business flourish and black industrialists multiply, that is a victory for workers.

When our streets are safe, when corruption is curbed and state capture is defeated, when violence against women and the abuse of children ends, when people with disabilities assume their rightful place in society, that is a victory for workers.

When the children of the poor graduate from universities and colleges in great numbers, when more than a million young people are given work experience opportunities each year, when every young child is in an early childhood development centre, that is a victory for workers.


We have travelled a long path to where we are.

Working together, we have achieved many victories.

We need to undertake the tasks that now lie ahead with the same determination, unity and militancy that has brought us this far.

We owe it to our people, to our children and to our grandchildren to continue the struggle for the emancipation of all our people.

We owe it to them to end all forms of exploitation, discrimination and oppression and to build a better future for the workers of this country, of this continent and the world.

I thank you.