Welcome remarks by acting KZN Premier Ravi Pillay during the NUM Special Congress held at Inkosi Albert Luthuli ICC on 4 September 2019
NUM President, Cde Joseph Montisetse
NUM GENERAL SECRETARY, Cde David Sipunzi;
NUM Office Bearers present;
Representatives of the Mass Democratic Movement and the Tripartite Alliance;
Ladies and gentlemen;
Comrades and Compatriots;
It is a real joy to welcome the leadership of the NUM and delegates to Durban and the warm province of KwaZulu-Natal.
As a province with a long and rich labour history and an indisputable track record of the worker victories, we are truly honoured to host this special Summit of the National Union of Mine workers.
We applaud the NUM for choosing, “The Power of Unity” as its theme.
We have no doubt that at the end of the Summit, all delegates will depart inspired and rekindled to pursue and strengthen unity of the working class as well as the unity of our revolutionary alliance in pursuance of the vision of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, equal and prosperous society.
Given the plethora of challenges that face labour and our movement broadly, now more than ever we need to unite and speak in a singular voice to give leadership and confidence to our people.
We must unite on the good principles of our movement, our alliance, and the Constitutional vision of attaining equality and restoring the dignity of all South Africans.
This Summit will go far in providing space to remind delegates that a progressive union like the NUM must remain disciplined. Always, it must be introspective, far-sighted, and conscious about the end goals of the revolution.
We look to the NUM to lead by example and not to be distracted by short-termism.
We know that the NUM is ever ready to provide workers with the tools of analysis to be able to grasp their world better and sharpen their understanding of their social experience, and to change it.
The NUM is best poised to raise the level of political consciousness of the working class. By applying historical materialism, it can still remind workers that they are their own liberators and vanguards of freedom.
A pragmatic understanding about our strategic alliance enjoins us to appreciate that as socialists, you participate in the advancement of the National Democratic Revolution because it creates the most conducive conditions for socialism.
The ANC government also understands fully that it cannot lead a national democratic struggle without the well-organised motive force of the working-class.
It understands perfectly that a workerless approach to our struggle would be counterrevolutionary and serve to undermine our programme of transformation and finally deliver the demise of the ANC.
We must therefore continue to redefine a comprehensive alliance framework programme that properly outlines the roles and responsibilities of each component.
To maintain the broad-based character and pro-poor orientation of the ANC, the NUM must continue to assert itself within the ANC, because a strong, united NUM makes a strong and capable ANC.
The ANC must remain a disciplined force of the left. By continuously strengthening its alliance with COSATU and the SACP, the ANC is able to reduce the temptation to be captured by elite interests and veering off the left lane.
On behalf of the ANC-led government, we wish to register our happiness with yesterday’s positive news of economic growth of 3.1% in Q2 which made our country avoid a technical recession.
Stats SA reported that this growth was boosted and led by a growth of 14.4% from the mining sector. We wish to applaud the workers of our land who are in the mining sector as well as the exemplary leadership and partnership from a union like the NUM in stabilising the sector.
More still need to be done by all stakeholders and social partners to boost investor confidence, get the South African economy on a higher, inclusive growth trajectory, and to create more sustainable and decent employment.
We see a trade union like the National Union of Mineworkers as indispensable for building a functional and effective developmental state that can successfully tackle the root courses of poverty and underdevelopment.
Through NEDLAC and other fora, we must collaborate closely with those in government to tackle the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment.
The NUM remains indispensable in the task of accelerating the radical transformation of our economy and achieving social justice for the vulnerable poor.
Your union must also add its voice on how as a country we should ensure a just transition for South African workers in the era of the 4th Industrial Revolution which is characterised by robotics, artificial intelligence, digitalisation, and the gig economy.
We hope that your timely summit will also take a moment to reflect on what we need to do together to put an end to violence and lawlessness in our country.
Each day, our nation and the world reads about a nation that is tearing itself apart, and that does not appear to have its priorities right.
The moral fibre of our society appears to be in tatters.
When we disagree, we often resort to violence. When communities demand a road, you are likely to find them destroying another critical infrastructure like a clinic or a school.
As we speak, a dark cloud hovers above our nation as South Africans – for many reasons- are attacking African immigrants, destroying their properties, and looting their shops.
Our roads have become dangerous, unsafe zones as people continue to burn trucks to resolve labour disputes.
Each day, we are learning about the rape and murder of South African women – and often by people that know them.
Our children are also unsafe from criminals who are now kidnapping them to demand ransom from their parents or guardians.
The instability, violence, and high levels of youth unemployment in our country does not bode well for the future of our country.
We must go beyond condemning these acts but begin to implement in the workplace, at schools, and in our homes programmes that will exorcise this violent culture.
In the ANC we say unity is sacrosanct because it is the bedrock upon which the organisation was founded. And we believe in the age-old slogan of the workers: “An Injury to one is an injury to all”.
We hope that your theme of “Unity is Strength” will move beyond the factory floor and reverberate across our nation because without national unity and social cohesion, we will not be able to deliver on the promise of the democratic dividend.
Once more, we wish you well as you deliberate over the next few days. We look forward to reading your resolutions.
Let Us Grow South Africa Together!
I thank you.