COSATU General Secretary, Solly Phetoe’s Message of Solidarity to the SACP’S Red October Main Rally Held on the 6th November 2022 at Umzimkhulu Campus Hall, Esayidi TVET College, KwaZulu Natal

Please receive on behalf of NOBs and the more than 1,5 million workers organised under COSATU, the following message of support to the SACP Red October Rally.

It was Karl Marx who discovered the law of the development of human history, the simple fact that mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, before it can pursue politics, science, art, religion, etc.

There could be no better way to capture the aspirations of the working class in our present day society than the three demands put forward by the SACP; Land, Food and Work.

The very basis of every production is land and the very basis of every life is food and the very basis of human existence is work. Therefore, it is correct to identify these 3 inter-related and primary struggles of humanity.

The capitalist crises and the deepening environmental destruction together with the COVID 19 pandemic have produced crises of unimaginable proportions, the skyrocketing levels of hunger, inequalities, unemployment, crime and corruption in all our communities.

COSATU has just emerged from its very successful 14th National Congress which captured the moment and the mood of the working class so succinctly when it said, “The South African struggle was not merely about freedom for a formal and independent statehood and instead there was a minimum programme expressing the political and socio-economic content shared between the SACP and the ANC”.

It went on to say, “This is better captured in the Morogoro Strategy and Tactics, that the South African national liberation struggle is about the “complete political and economic emancipation of all our people and the constitution of a society which accords with the basic provisions of our programme and the Freedom Charter”. Further more, that “in our country – more than in any other part of the oppressed world – it is inconceivable  for liberation to have meaning without a return of the wealth of the land to the people as a whole. It is therefore, a fundamental feature of our strategy that victory must embrace more than formal political democracy….Our drive towards national emancipation is therefore in a very real way bound up with economic emancipation”

In our resolutions, we further affirmed the centrality of the radical/class content of our NDR as the basis of a shared perspective of the NDR. The stagnation of the NDR is the erosion of the radical content of the NDR by contending class forces within the movement itself.

The SACP 15th National Congress theme; Building a Powerful, Socialist movement of the workers and the poor, is the wayforward towards unlocking the mass organisational potential of the working class and all forces of struggle. It coincides well with the decisive measures taken by the recent COSATU Congress and the call for the acceleration of the Renewal of our motive forces and the alliance as a whole. This is the same message to the coming ANC National Conference.

The 14th National Congress of COSATU took place at a critical moment in the history of the NDR, with the multiple crisis being experienced by workers and communities ravaging our society and turning workers into paupers.

The crisis of inequality in our country has become the biggest national and global issue, even by mere liberal standards. The World Bank released a report this year, which confirms that South Africa is the most unequal society in the world. It is ranking first among 164 countries in the World Bank’s global Poverty database. Therefore, the crises of unemployment, hunger and poverty must be seen in context. It is not that the country cannot afford, but that the rich few are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, in the midst of plenty.

This is the inevitable outcome of neoliberalism and austerity, that denies the poor of the necessary means and resources to make ends meet.

We are in the Province of KwaZulu Natal and so much has happened and so much is happening around. According to Stats SA Survey, KwaZulu Natal is one of the worst performing Provinces in terms of unemployment and job losses, having shed more than 33 000 jobs quarter on quarter during the first quarter of 2021. This is the real question to both the SACP and COSATU on what is and should be our role in such a situation? How do we rescue the ANC to focus on the real issues affecting the poor and communities who are facing these crises?

The state of our SOEs and the economy generally reflect a sustained paralysis, which COSATU long clarified that the outsourcing of development to the private sector is the surest way to enrich the rich and impoverish the poor. The Private sector is not and has never been interested in human development, but profit and self interest of shareholders.

The 14th National Congress of COSATU emerged united around the most fundamental perspectives of our NDR and the urgency of transforming the economy towards effective redistribution and capacity for mass based growth, inclusivity and development. The current situation is not only unsustainable, but cripples our collective ability to confront and stop the messy situation we face.

The alliance is facing a real capacity problem, with factionalism, corruption, weak leadership, organisational decay and open criminality as worrying and even posing the biggest threat to our revolution. The coming National Conference of the ANC must be a turning point if our movement is to be saved from the ills mentioned herein above.

On Working with our Unions, as COSATU, we are hard at work supporting our affiliates in the various sectors of the economy to organise workers, by recruiting and servicing members. This is a true priority for COSATU, with our unions facing the difficulties and employers getting more arrogant and bullish, unions must defend workers more effectively.

We invite the SACP to work with us more in building the organisational and ideological capacity of unions to fight and advance workers rights, defend collective bargaining and end slave wages in all sectors.

It is through our struggles that the e-tolls in Gauteng are now history, because we refused to give away the rights of workers to travel to and from work, as well as to and from home. The tolling of roads pose a danger to workers movement and denies them the right to a livelihood.

The COVID pandemic has exposed workers to even more harsher conditions of life, lack of safety and a failing health system that is unable to cater for the needs of the poor in society. Health is a right and therefore, access is very important. The capacity of our health system has been severely compromised by a number of things, including the labour broking system, casualisation, outsourcing and austerity measures in general.

We continue our call for a State Pharmaceutical Company, to defend the poor from the ruthless exploitation by Multinational companies and other private interests in the health system.

The Medium Term Vision/MTV of COSATU places the strategic perspective of contesting power in all sites of struggles, particularly in the economic and ideological battles. This requires a simultaneous struggle against class, gender and racial inequalities.

Having done a thorough assessment of the obtaining balance of forces, the 14th National Congress of COSATU, outlined the following as our most Strategic Tasks;

1.    Building and strengthening COSATU and its affiliates – this is a condition for building working class power. The capacity of the federation and the alliance ability to undertake a major process of transformation and to confront the many problems the working class face, primarily depends on this huge task

2.    Building Unity in action with other unions and federations – The pursuit of working class unity, requires that we work with all workers facing the situation and crisis we experience. This may include organisations we don’t necessarily share the same view with or who may not necessarily be from the alliance or Congress tradition, but experience and share the same view about the crisis we face. Workers are workers and workers rely on united power to win demands, defeat the arrogance of employers, as well as advance the perspective of a future free from exploitation and oppression.

3.    Building and strengthening the axis of socialism – deepening class consciousness and advancing our socialist programme is important to taking our struggle beyond the current paralysis

4.    Building campaigns with mass based organisations and progressive NGOs – the need to build united actions around issues affecting communities, such as poverty, GBV, crime, unemployment and access to health and education are critical for the pursuit of a united action for change

5.    Building and fighting for the renewal of the ANC – the ANC, as the leading force of the alliance and in government, require a serious process of renewal and that will not happen automatically. It will require us as alliance partners to make decisive interventions and work with progressive forces within the ANC to make the necessary changes towards a proper positioning.


COSATU takes this opportunity to once again, emphasise the importance of building working class power to change the conditions of our people in every community, workplace, institution and wherever the people are. This is our collective responsibility as a class and as socialist forces of the NDR. It is our primary task to change the outlook of the NDR towards a progressive and class-oriented struggle.