COSATU President Zingiswa Losi: Message of Support

Memorial Lecture for the late Deputy President of POPCRU Pretty Shuping

05 November 2023

Programme Director,

The family of our late sister, the Shuping family,

President Zizamele Cebekhulu and the leadership of our militant affiliate, POPCRU,

General Secretary of our vanguard party, Solly Mapaila,

Leadership of our alliance partner, the African National Congress,

The membership of POPCRU,

Thank you for inviting COSATU, to join this important memorial lecture.

Please accept the warm revolutionary greetings of COSATU, the Federation of Elijah Barayi and Violet Seboni.  We want to commend the leadership of POPCRU for holding this memorial lecture today. 

All too often in the heat of battles, we forget to pause and honour those who sadly left us, to remember their contributions and journeys, to say thank you to their families, to reflect on our efforts to fulfill the tasks they set us.

This is important as we rebuild a culture of Umrabulo, hold ourselves accountable, empower our members and recharge as we wage battles on behalf of workers.

This is a powerful lesson for the Federation, Affiliates, the Party and the ANC to honour the legacies of Chris Dlamini, JB Marks, Ruth First, Oliver Tambo and Nana Abrahams.

A nation which does not understand its history, will inevitably repeat its tragedies. 

Comrade Pretty’s life is testimony to what South Africans can achieve in spite of the many obstacles that colonialism, apartheid, capitalism and neo-liberalism place in front of the working class.

Despite growing up in one of our poorest communities, Mangaung, comrade Pretty rose, preserved and thrived. 

She entered one of the most difficult sectors for Black women, the police, and not only was recognised as leader and elected as a shop steward by her peers but rose to become a national leader and Deputy President of our mighty POPCRU!

She did not seek office but was rather drafted by members who felt confidence in her determination, humility and dedication.

Like for many Black working-class women, it was not easy when it came to opening the doors of education, yet no force could stop her.  She embraced education as a life long journey.  Her efforts were recognised in her appointment to lead the SETA on behalf of members of the SAPS and Correctional Services.

We must ask ourselves are we fulfilling the mandate handed to us by comrade Pretty?  Are we content with the levels of investment in the skills and training of the members of the SAPS and Correctional Services?  Can the SETAs not improve the training they provide to workers?  Are we happy with the quality of and access to studies afforded to SAPS members at our Police Academies.

The most important asset of the state are our public servants.  Does it do enough to ensure a fulfilling career path for the young woman constable or warden?

Comrade Pretty like many before, was determined to serve not only the working class but also to advance the rights of all women.  She was a formidable force as the Gender Chairperson in the Free State. 

Women, girls, children, persons with disabilities, the elderly, members of the LGBTQI Plus communities are under siege.  Our levels of gender-based violence and sexual harassment, at the workplace and across society are a national crisis.

We salute the relentless efforts of POPCRU and our SAPS and DCS members in this war.  We are humbled by the countless sacrifices our members endure.

But we must do better.  We must continue to push government to ensure our members have the tools of trade, the training, and the support needed to win this war.

Parliament overhauled our criminal legislation in 2021 and passed 3 progressive GBV Acts.  Government needs to ensure all law enforcement, judicial, health and education workers are fully trained, equipped and empowered to enforce these progressive laws.

Government needs to ensure all citizens are aware of their rights and responsibilities and the consequences for those who abuse our daughters, sisters, wives and mothers. 

Let us as COSATU and POPCRU redouble our efforts and continue to lead this fight.

Comrade Pretty was a worker leader.  She placed her life at the service of members and workers.  As we head into this historic 10th Congress let us engage on how we can ensure the engines of POPCRU and COSATU are strengthened and well oiled.

What can we do to ensure members’ needs are serviced, our shop stewards are well trained on our labour laws, our organisers are on the ground, that POPCRU and COSATU are relentless in leading campaigns to improve the lives of the working class.

Comrade leadership there is much that can be said about the legacies of comrade Pretty.  What is most important is that we commit as we leave today and conclude our 10th Congress in a few days, that we will as COSATU and POPCRU, Affiliates, the SACP and the ANC, endeavour to do justice to the legacy of our late Deputy President.

Let this not be a once off event, but our daily task.

Allow me to conclude by thanking the Singonzo, Shuping, Klaas and broader families of Pretty, for sharing this daughter of the revolution.  We will be forever indebted to your generosity and sacrifices.

Enkosi. Dankie. Re a leboga.  Thank you.  Amandla.