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Tribute by the Secretary General of the ANC Cde Ace Magashule during the occasion of the celebrations of the Workers Day at the Vaal, Gauteng Province.

1 May 2018


Comrade programme directors

The General Secretary of COSATU Bheki Ntshalintshali

The National chairman of the South African Communist Party Cde Zokwana

The leadership of the South African Civic Organisations

The leadership of the progressive youth alliance

The leadership of civil society organizations

The leadership of the business community

The leadership of the institution of traditional leadership

The leadership of our church community

The leadership of shop stewards and all the workers gathered here

To the peace loving people of our beautiful country

Today is a day of great political significance in the history of the struggles of the working class across the world. It is a day during which the international working class celebrate their noble contribution towards our struggles against oppression and exploitation.

On behalf of the collective leadership of the national executive committee of the ANC, we convey our revolutionary greetings to all of you gathered here today, and many of the workers gathered elsewhere across our country, the continent and the world. On this important day, of the celebrations of the struggles of the working class, we convey our fraternal warm greetings from the leadership and the membership of the ANC across the breath and length of our country.

Workers day represents the heroic leadership contribution of the working class across the world in the struggles for the cause of the emancipation of humanity. The struggles for the creation of a better world for all humanity.

Throughout the years, the South African working class, has been the backbone of our struggles against the racist Apartheid colonialism of a special type. The South African working class has been occupying the forefront trenches for the liberation of the black people in general and africans in particular.

History has demonstrated that the working class is the only reliable force capable of taking forward any revolution to its eventual conclusion. The working class is the only force with the necessary capacity to liberate itself from the shackles of oppression and exploitation.

When infused with a far sighted, revolutionary and class conscience theory, the working class can be the most resolute, disciplined and organised force. Indeed the unity of the working class is a precondition for the success of any revolution.

The historic task of the working class is nothing else but the consolidation of power for transformation of society. Its task is always to work in the best interest of the wishes and aspirations of the overwhelming majority of our people.

Today, we are gathered here under the theme " Unity and Cohesion of COSATU in defense of our national democratic revolution. Under the present challenges of the complex and the most hostile world dominated by imperialism and neo colonial forces, this theme, has become more relevant than ever before.

The immediate task of the working class is the unity and cohesion of the progressive world of humanity. The task of the workers of the world is to unite, unite and to unite.

In his prolific book" the communist manifesto", the father of the struggles of the working class Karl Marx says the following" communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling class tremble at the communist revolution. The proletariat have nothing to lose but their chains, they have the world to win. Working men of the world unite".

Few weeks ago, the world was saddened by the passing away of the mother of our nation, Mama Nomzamo Winnie Mandela and two of our stalwarts, Comrades Zola Skwayiya and George Nene. We take the opportunity again, to thank their families, for having given us these precious flowers of our national democratic revolution.

We shall forever appreciate their noble contribution to our struggles for the liberation of our country. Their contribution to the struggles for the liberation of the people of our country shall forever decorate the monuments of our beautiful country. May their soul rest in peace.

We celebrate the Workers day, during the most important historic year, of the centenary anniversary celebrations of the lifes of two of the outstanding iconic leaders of our struggles for the national liberation of our people, Tata Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu. The exemplary leadership and contribution of these two heroic leaders of our people, symbolizes the victory of our hard won freedom and democracy.

The heroic leaders of the struggles of our people, volunteered their entire lifes in the forefront trenches of our struggles, for the improvement of the better living conditions of the working class. They unambiguously led the struggles of the working class in the mines, factories and farms, in their determination for a better living wage and working conditions.

We celebrate the Workers day, during a memorable year, of the 54th anniversary of the brutal murder by the gallows of apartheid, of one of the heroic sons of our soil, Cde Vuyisile Mini. We remember the heroic leadership role of this gallant fighter of the struggles of the working class, a trade unionist, a communist, a member of Umkhonto we Ziswe and a leader of our struggles for national liberation.

Cde Vuyisile Mini defied the vicious apartheid system by singing freedom songs during his last journey into the gallows. Cde Ben Turok, one of his co- accused during the treason trial, and at the time serving three years sentenced at the Pretoria central prison, says the following about the night at which Vuyisile Mini and his co-accused were executed"

The last evening was devastatingly sad as the heroic occupants of the death cells communicated to the prison in gentle melancholy song that their end was near... It was late at night when the singing ceased, and the prison fell into uneasy silence.

I was already awake when the singing began again in the early morning. Once again the excruciatingly beautiful music floated through the barred windows, echoing round the brick exercise yard, losing itself in the vast prison yards.

And then, unexpectedly, the voice of Vuyisile Mini came roaring down the hushed passages. Evidently standing on a stool, with his face reaching up to a barred vent in his cell, his unmistakable bass voice was enunciating his final message in Xhosa to the world he was leaving.

In a voice charged with emotion but stubbornly defiant he spoke of the struggle waged by the African National Congress and of his absolute conviction of the victory to come. And then it was Khayinga's turn, followed by Mkaba, as they too defied all prison rules to shout out their valedictions. Soon after, I heard the door of their cell being opened.

Murmuring voices reached my straining ears, and then the three martyrs broke into a final poignant melody which seemed to fill the whole prison with sound and then gradually faded away into the distant depths of the condemned section."

We celebrate the workers day during the year of the 36th anniversary of the death of one of the heroic daughters of our mother continent, Cde Ruth Heloise First. A trade unionist, a communist, a dedicated journalist, a member of Umkhonto we Sizwe, and a leader of the African National Congress.

Cde Ruth First was killed by a letter bomb in her office at the centre of the African studies at Eduardo Mondlane university in Maputo, Mozambique, during the year 1982. She spent her entire life leading the struggles of the working against apartheid racial oppression and exploitation.

As we celebrate this important day, we remember the living memories of one of the finest commanders of Umkhonto we Sizwe, Cde Barney Molokoane. A proud and disciplined soldier of our peoples army.

This glorious soldier of our people departed the land of the living in the year 1985, during a skirmish with the apartheid security forces, after a successful mission of his unit, of sabotaging the industrial complex at SECUNDA. We shall forever remember his exceptional bravery, his total dedication to the cause of the freedom and loyalty to our struggles for the liberation of our people.

We celebrate the living memories of our late stalwart of our struggles and the first President of the Congress of the South African Trade Union movement ( COSATU), President Elijah Barayi. We shall forever remember this outstanding son of the working class.

We remember the life of one of the greatest organisers of the working class of our country, Cde Violet Seboni. We thank the President of the ANC and our republic, Cde Cyril Ramaphosa, for awarding posthumously, the order of the baobab silver, to this heroine of our struggles, for her sterling contribution, to the struggles for the rights of workers and equality for women.

The names of the martyrs mentioned today, represent the galaxy of the many of the unsung heroes and heroines of our struggles. Those who perished their lifes for the freedom of our people.

In their roll call, we remember many of our heroes and heroines, we remember Moses Kotane, JB Marks, Thabo Mofutsenyane, Steven Dlamini, Ray Alexander, Gama Makhabeni, John Nkadimeng, Peter Nchabeleng, Lawrance Phokanoka, Goven Mbeki, Curnick Ndlovu, Billy Nair, Oscar Mphetha, John Gomomo, Liz Abrahams, Raymond Mhlaba, and many of our martyrs who died in line of duty, leading the struggles for the liberation of our people.

The first Secretary General of the African National Congress, Sol Plaaitjie, in his profound tribute to the South African working class in 1914, says the following" two hundred thousand subterranean heroes who by day and night, for a mere pittance, lay down their lives to the familiar 'fall of rock' and who, at deep levels ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 feet in the bowels of the earth, sacrifice their lungs to the rock dust".

During this important occasion of the celebration of the workers day, we salute the historic milestone event of the great October socialist revolution. One of the earthmoving events which gave birth to the first socialist state in the history of humanity.

We celebrate the heroic memories of the workers who participated in the 1946 mineworkers strike. The successful strike was about the demands of workers for a decent living wage.

As we celebrate this day, we salute the heroic acts of the workers during the 1959 potato boycott at the town of Bethal in Mpumalanga. Workers revolted against the poor working conditions and extreme forms of exploitation by farm owners in the area.

Workers were forced to give away their clothes and wear sacks, they were forced to sleep on concrete floors and to use they hands to dig potatoes from the soil. Many were beaten to death and buried in shallow graves without the knowledge of their families and relatives.

As a result of these horrific acts of genocide, one of the leaders of our trade union movement, the leader of the South African Communist Party and our movement, the ANC, Cde Gert Sibande, mobilised our people to boycott potatoes in the area. It was one of the most successful strikes by workers in the history of our country.

We remember the living memories of the workers who led the 1973 Durban strike. We remember the heroic workers who led the 1987 OK Bazzars strike.

We remember the 1987 railway strike when the apartheid security apparatus unleashed acts terror, killing many of our workers across the country. We remember the 1987 mineworkers strike, which saw over 300 000, for nearly 21days, leading a strike demanding for a living wage and better working conditions.

On this day, we remember the memories of our workers who were killed at Marikana. The event was indeed the most fateful after our historic democratic breakthrough.

We urge our government to work closely with the families of the deceased, communities and stakeholders to bring closure to the fateful memories of this event. The ANC is indeed committed to make sure that we find solutions to the problems facing many of our workers across the country.

The 54th conference of the ANC, which was held last year at the Nazareth conference centre, reaffirmed our theoretical exposition, of the present phase of our democracy, as the second stage of our transition, for radical socio economic transformation. The conference took revolutionary resolutions to appropriate land without compensation, to nationalise the Reserve Bank, and ensure that the majority of our people, black people in general and the africans in particular, become part of the ownership of the commanding heights of our economy.

The conference committed itself to the unity and renewal of our national liberation movement. Through self introspection and self criticism, our movement have come to the realization that unity is the only precondition for the success of our struggles for radical economic transformation.

In this instance, the unity of our revolutionary alliance is sacrosanct. The unity of our alliance is a barometer for the attainment of the strategic objectives of our national democratic revolution.

Of importance, is our understanding of the theoretical relationships between the national, class and gender questions and their interconnectedness to our national democratic revolution. It is important to understand that our alliance is a product of our revolutionary struggles against imperialism and colonial oppression and exploitation.

The ANC is the principal political leader of our revolutionary alliance. Its historic mission, is to lead our struggles for the building of a non racial, non sexist, democratic and prosperous society.

Over the years of our history of liberation, the ANC has been part of the world wide struggles of the working class solidarity and internationalism,. We are a movement which is part of the common cause of the struggles of the working class to create a better world for humanity.

The communist party is the vanguard and the political leader of the struggles of the working class. It is the most advanced organisation led by the most advanced elements in society. It is the ultimate home and the political party of the working class.

But what is important is that, communists have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole. Communists do not set up any sectarian principles of their own by which to shape and mould the proletarian movement.

A trade union movement is a mass organization of the working class. Its main role is to lead the struggles for the improvement of the living wage and better conditions of the working class.

It represents the interests of its own members at the factory floor. It is therefore in the interest of the workers of our country and the world to unite for the victory of their struggles.

The collective leadership of the ANC under the leadership of President Cyril Ramsphosa, is committed towards the unity and cohesion of our revolutionary alliance. What is important is to ensure that we have joined programmes and that our partners are sufficiently taken on board on major issues of importance.

COSATU and its Alliance partners, have a difficult task of ensuring that we unite the working class of our country. The events of the past few years, of the disintegration of our mighty FEDERATION into splinter formations, is a mistake that should never happen again.

At the same time, our workers must be aware of the role of the enemy of our revolution, to undermine the unity of our national democratic revolution. Our enemy knows that, the only way to defeat the ANC, is to divide our revolutionary alliance from within its ranks.

Our enemy is aware that a divided ANC, a divided SACP, a divided COSATU and SANCO, will be an impediment to advance the objective of our revolution. The task before all of us, is to build for the unity of our structures and our membership in general.

We should reject all attempts by counter revolutionary forces to divide our alliance. The enemy is there day and night to swore divisions within our ranks. Where there is a revolution there is always a counter revolution.

Our revered leader of the ANC, President OR Tambo, the longest serving President of our movement, had to say the following profound words of wisdom during the conference of Morogoro, in the year 1969"

Delegates must wage a relentless war against disrupters and defend the ANC against the provocateurs and enemy agents. Defend the revolution against enemy propaganda, whatever form it takes.

Be vigilant comrades, the enemy is vigilant. Beware of the wedge driver, a man who creeps from ear to ear carrying a bag full of wedges, driving them between you and the next man, between a group and another. A man who goes around creating splits and divisions.

Beware of wedge drivers, comrades, watch his poisonous tongue. And now, wedge drivers who have been working behind close doors against the whole liberation movement and its policies have come out in the open.

They are of an impure load which every revolutionary carries, and when that load is thrown aside the journey to victory is always a swifter one. The enemy hidden in the same colour is the most dangerous one".

We need to be vigilant and to reject all attempts by the forces of counter revolution to undermine the unity of our alliance and our revolution. We need to be careful of the enemy hidden in the same colour, wearing the same regalia, singing our own songs, and appearing to be more revolutionary than the revolution itself.

The most dangerous enemy of our national democratic revolution, is the enemy from within our own ranks. Our people must work together for the unity and renewal of our liberation movement for transformation of society.

We are indeed proud of the rich legacy of the contribution of the working class to the struggles for the transformation of our society. We are encouraged that you continue to lead these struggles, for the improvement of the living conditions of the lifes of the people of our country.

Thank you

Ace Magashule
Secretary General