The ANC joins the nation in congratulating COSATU at the successful hosting of its 13th National Congress. President Ramaphosa, in his capacity as President of the ANC, which is the leader of the Alliance delivered a rousing message and encouraged the Congress to confront critical issues affecting the workers and the economy. He called on COSATU to bring to the table practical suggestion on tackling issues of mutual interest.
The robust engagements on critical challenges confronting the federation demonstrated COSATU’s resolve to realise its historic mission of “One country one federation.”
The election of Cde Zingiswa Losi as the first female President of COSATU since its inception in 1985 is a milestone that should be celebrated by the nation at large. In her own words, she captured the sentiment succinctly when she reflected in her closing address, “COSATU is communicating a clear message for the world and the country to know that women within the ranks of this radical trade union movement are ready to take the responsibility at the sharpest end of the struggles for the emancipation of all women in our society. We are gearing ourselves to occupy the front ranks and coalface as the organised and class-conscious detachment of the broader working-class women, which is the primary motive force of the women’s emancipation struggles. We must strengthen and advance women’s struggles at the workplace, in our communities and in the broader political terrain – practical and active involvement in struggles is itself part of the emancipatory process. And together with our progressive allies in our trade union movement we have at this congress built and advanced on the long and proud history of women leadership in the workers’ struggles.Comrades, this should not be an isolated achievement, but part of our sustained and conscious effort of broadening active participation of women at all levels of their unions, and we must seriously take the task of building capacity and ideological training on gender and patriarchy not only for women but also for our male members, shopstewards, officials and leaders.
It is not an exaggeration to say that this class-conscious detachment of organised workers in South Africa in the fold of COSATU is once again making history and opening a new chapter that would go down in our proud historical annals of trade union women leadership. We indeed have a long chain of pioneering trade union leaders – now for over a century – from the militant Mary Fitzgerald, Johanna Cornelius, Ray Alexander Simons, Frances Baard, Liz Abrahams to Charlotte Maxeke, the founder member of the South African Native National Congress, the fore-runner to the ANC and the Bantu Women’s League (ANC WL) and the Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU) – who in the publication Umteteli wa Bantu sharply raised and addressed the “Woman Question”. These are the icons, heroines and martyrs not only of the working people, but also of the broader working class, that have laid the foundation of our militant trade union movement. Your collective decision in this regard is indeed a tribute to these women leaders, the shop-stewards and countless others who were ordinary members – and all of those who for years tirelessly worked to build strong women leaders inspired by our long-standing battle cry, ‘Wathint’ Abafazi, Wathint’ Imbokodo’.”COSATU’s commitment to a frontal engagement on the challenges of the 4th Industrial Revolution is a direct response to President Ramaphosa’s call and will no doubt sharpen the country’s perspective and approach in tackling these challenges.
As we prepare ourselves for the Jobs Summmit to tackle the challenge of unemployment and job losses, we cannot agree more with COSATU’s assertion that this Summit must find realistic solutions in creating and sustaining jobs to stimulate our economy. We are equally under no illusion that chronic unemployment undermines our efforts to effectively deal with our triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment.
The stimulus package announced by President Ramaphosa gives priority to those areas of economic activity that will have the greatest impact on youth, women and small business. We have no doubt that this intervention will have a decisive impact in turning our economic fortunes around and sets the stage for creative solutions in addressing the unemployment challenge.