COSATU Message of Support – Ahmed Kathrada Commemoration

Programme Director,

The family of our late leader, uncle Kathy,

Leadership of the Kathrada Foundation, the ANC, SACP and COSATU,

Leadership of various political parties present,

Comrades and friends,

Thank you for inviting COSATU to join this important event in honour of uncle Kathy.

In times of distress, we would do well to tap into the examples of such giants.  When we struggle to produce leaders who put the nation above their personal interests, who are happy to deflect their failings, we should reflect on the life of uncle Kathy.

He led an exemplary life and dedicated it to serving not only the ANC, the SACP but the nation at large.  He joined the actual uMkhonto we Sizwe when the reward was death and life imprisonment.

After the 1994 elections, few remember Madiba initially announced Kathy’s appointment as Minister for Correctional Services.  This was soon withdrawn to accommodate the IFP.  Cde. Kathy never complained and was happy to support Madiba as his Parliamentary Councillor. 

He concluded his journey publicly reminding us that we cannot condone corruption, no matter who commits it.  We must place the Constitution and the nation above ourselves.

Kathy symbolized the Freedom Charter’s non-racial spirit, a vision we are neglecting.

We are 8 weeks away from our most contested elections since 1994.  We have been deeply concerned by the behaviour of some parties, candidates and citizens.  We have appealed to all parties and candidates to abide by our Electoral Act.

The IEC, Electoral Court, the SAPS and the NPA must deal with anyone who incites violence, threatens teachers or any other persons employed by the IEC to assist with the running of the elections or undermines in any way the important work of the IEC, including questioning the IEC’s capacity to run free, fair and credible elections.

With all our challenges, we cannot afford to undermine the IEC.  We all have a role to play, including ordinary citizens.  We need to all play our role in supporting the IEC and ensuring free and peaceful campaigns. 

COSATU and our Affiliates are actively involved in the elections.  We are engaging workers to vote for the ANC but we are doing so within the confines of the law.  We respect that our members are not homogeneous and have a variety of views.  We will not tolerate anyone who breaks the law, no matter the colour of their t-shirt.

Life continues after elections.  Coalitions will remain part of our political landscape.  We may disagree at times but we need to respect and work with each other.

Allow me to end with a plea as we remember uncle Kathy, OR Tambo, Solomon Mahlangu, Chris Hani and so many others.  The fate of South Africa is in our hands.  COSATU will play its role in ensuring that our elections are peaceful, free and fair.

Thank you.