COSATU remembers ANC President General Oliver Reginald Tambo

The Congress of South African Trade Unions joins South Africans to remember Isithwalandwe-Seaparankoe President O.R. Tambo who passed away 30 years ago today. We remember OR Tambo as a towering figure who fearlessly led the struggle against the apartheid regime that oppressed and exploited Black people in this country.

He led the ANC under very difficult circumstances and was able to deliver it back to the people of South Africa intact and ready to govern. On this day as we remember the President General of the ANC, we reiterate our call on the ANC to intensify its efforts to build unity, discipline, and renewal and above all give a sense of confidence in the future of our country in order to inspire the masses of our people.

Cde OR led by example, he took responsibility for the weaknesses and failures of the ANC and never shirked from accepting criticism. The leadership of all political parties and government across all spheres would do well to learn from Cde OR’s sense of humility, piety, and accountability; virtues that are rarely found amongst the political elite of today.

He grew up in desperately poor conditions in Mbizana in the Eastern Cape and overcame insurmountable hurdles in pursuit of education. He went on to become a leader of the church, a science and maths teacher and ultimately an international statesman, who could hold his own with leaders across the world.  He channelled the frustrations of the youth into positive action for change. 

Cde OR Tambo was also a big believer in the Alliance. He powerfully expressed its importance, when he said; “Ours is not merely a paper alliance, created at conference tables and formalised through the signing of documents and representing only an agreement of leaders. Our alliance is a living organism that has grown out of struggle. We have built it out of our separate and common experiences.”

It is in this spirit of respecting the sterling contribution of legions of the leaders of our movement like OR Tambo that COSATU continues to work hard to preserve the unity of the Alliance.

We continue to tirelessly push for the Alliance to give concrete meaning to the tributes that we are paying to our heroic leaders. We should honour them with deeds and not just with words. Currently, the country is facing critical socioeconomic challenges that include rising extreme poverty, unprecedented level of unemployment, corruption, and widespread crime.

The best way to honour our struggle titans is to address the legacies of apartheid and even capitalism, especially land dispossession. The struggle was about the return of the stolen land, eradicating poverty and unemployment and affirming the dignity of all South Africans. Millions of South Africans cannot meaningfully participate in the economy if the issue of land is not being properly addressed.

Issued by COSATU

Sizwe Pamla (COSATU National Spokesperson)

Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794