SADTU statement on unwarranted attacks against organizational decisions

SADTU has noted, with dismay, an emerging narrative post the 30th anniversary virtual celebration that seeks to question and ridicule the Union’s decision to invite the President of the Republic to be part of the event. The toxic and grossly ill-informed narrative is being driven through platforms such as the “Communist University-CU Telegram Postings” online platform in which articles initially posted on the Jacaranda FM and Times Live websites reporting on the Union’s event were afforded misleading and unfortunate introductory notes by the site manager well known to the Union on the 8th of October.

On the Community University Telegram Postings, it was reported that, “SADTU’s decision to invite President Cyril Ramaphosa to her 30th anniversary celebration on the eve of the COSATU march is highly irreconcilable.”  SADTU regards such a claim is highly irresponsible and narrow minded.

The Union undertakes certain processes when preparing for major events such as anniversaries and congress. The decision to invite President Ramaphosa was taken a long time ago; long before COSATU decided to embark on the one-day strike. In fact, the decision was taken at our last NEC in December 2019, when we adopted our plan for 2020. 

We don’t explain our decisions to anyone whether such persons have anointed themselves as the only revolutionaries alive on earth. Our National Congress which is composed of the owners of the union being the members has authority to take policy decisions and in between Congress that responsibility is exercised by the NEC. We are an autonomous and independent organisation and we are not owned by any organisation. Our affiliation to COSATU doesn’t make our union a small COSATU and the Federation’s constitution is very clear to that effect. To be on record about the unity of the public sector unions and not only those affiliated to COSATU, SADTU and her General Secretary have been preoccupied with the task and the responsibility given by the Federation to engage with FEDUSA unions in the public service sector.

 The agreement amongst all public service sector unions to fight as a united force at court and outside court was achieved because as SADTU we believe in the unity of purpose and that we didn’t go around screaming that we are the only union fighting for the implementation of Resolution 1 of 2018. This is informed by the fact that we don’t suffer from relevancy syndrome. The lies and noise in the public will not win us the increases for our members but true leadership and unity. So can those who want us to join the factional battles that are destroying our country not count us in. We wish them luck in their crusade to divert from the real issues and present our union as not fighting for the workers. We are focused and we will work with all the unions without undermining them because it’s only the unity of the workers that can secure the victory for collective bargaining. 

It is also true that we mobilised our members, hence thousands of them defied the threat of No Work No Pay and joined all other workers in very successful programmes of our Federation.

Since our inception in 1990, it has always been part of SADTU’s tradition to invite the president of the country and the ANC whenever we have our anniversaries and congresses. President Mandela addressed our launch congress and continued to address our events as the president. President Zuma addressed all events; the 2010 Congress in the midst of a dispute that culminated into a strike over wages. It has been the same with special events such as anniversaries etc. The launch of our Curtis Nkondo Professional Development Institute in 2013 and the official opening of our headquarters in 2018, were addressed by President Kgalema Montlanthe and President Cyril Ramaphosa respectively.

Ostracism is not SADTU’s principle; we believe in constructive engagement through various means including dialogue. We are capable of separating issues from persons and persons from issues because we have a responsibility to build a nation.  As President of the country, we are bound to differ with Ramaphosa on certain aspects but that does not mean we should declare him our enemy. We will continue to engage until we reach a consensus.

It is also unfortunate that our decision to invite the President seems to be attributed to our General Secretary, hence the unwarranted attacks on his person by other agent provocateurs who seem hell-bent to divert the attention of the members from the battles of the day. We take strong exception to this, as he is part of a collective and will continue to be the spokesperson of the union, and will in some instances raise issues that may not be palatable to some.

We have noted the circulating unfounded stories about the General Secretary’s private property and assets. As a matter of fact, he is a school principal.  Like many other leaders, lives an honest and humble life. There is a newly invented lie by faceless individuals about his alleged ownership of a vehicle the class of a” Maybach” which is intended to create an impression that he is living a luxurious life and isolate him from the collective.

The SADTU collective has full confidence in our General Secretary who was elected unopposed at our 9th National Congress in September 2019. We urge him to remain focused not to be intimidated, nor be deterred by any slander and smearing campaign directed at him. He should lead with no fear and be resolute in pursuing his cause to represent members of the union as he has done for all these years.   

We remain focused to protect collective bargaining and agreements as pillars of democracy and will oppose anyone who wants to destroy collective bargaining, even if it is President Ramaphosa. 

We will not be destructed by side shows but will continue to strengthen our resolve to fight to improve the conditions of service of our members irrespective of who is the President of the ANC or country.

We will never allow anyone, including President Ramaphosa to undermine our hard earned rights including the non implementation of collective agreements. SADTU is firm on calling for the payment of salary increases of workers and will not rest until this intransigent employer implement Resolution 1/2018.

Our call for an end to corruption will remain noble and be pursued even under President Ramaphosa

We are firm on calling on President Ramaphosa to sign the ILO resolutions on sexual harassment in protection of all women who remain vulnerable and abused by men who are occupying positions of influence expecting sexual favors in exchange for jobs and promotion.

We will continue to be preoccupied with the unity of the workers in the public sector in order to defeat the neoliberal policies of austerity. Those seeking fame and relevancy should know that members don’t want fame but the improvement of their material conditions. SADTU as the largest union in the public service sector will never undermine other unions. Disunity of labour can only benefit the employer. Lies and misinformation about other unions will just attract few members and will quickly evaporate into thin air.  We are hard at work to defend collective bargaining in our country and we will not engage in time wasting statements in the media. 

Lastly, SADTU does not need to seek permission from anyone on whom to invite to her events. 

ISSUED BY:  SADTU Secretariat


Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi:  082 709 5651

Secretariat Officer, Xolani Fakude:  071 355 1566

Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi:  082 719 5157