The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) joins the world in celebrating the life of the former statesman, more affectionately known as Madiba. On this day we should reflect on the sacrifices and contributions that Madiba made for the betterment of South Africans in his quest to see a non-racial, reconciliation, unity and a democratic South Africa.
The increase in racially motivated attacks more especially in the Western Cape should be a concern to all peace loving South Africans. We view this as a spit in the legacy of Madiba who fought for the unity of all South Africans. We cannot be called a “Rainbow Nation” when black people are daily subjected to racist attacks more shockingly by their employers. In honour of Madiba, the country needs to reconcile and forge unify across all races.
It has been a year since Madiba left us, we are still in mourning as a nation for we have been robbed of a great man. We however on a daily basis reminded of the principles which he stood for, principles which he was prepared to die for. We remember Madiba as a selfless leader, a revolutionist and socialist who dedicated his time to the emancipation of South Africans.
We know Madiba as a friend of organised labour, the ANC led alliance became closer and more relevant under his leadership as the president of the ANC. In honouring his legacy we should ensure that the current challenges that COSATU and its affiliates are facing are resolved in the interest of the working class. South Africa needs a strong, relevant and more decisive COSATU. We therefore commit ourselves to ensuring that COSATU is realigned as the COSATU that South African workers has known and loved, a COSATU that champions the interests of workers.
In his address to the International Day of Solidarity with the people of Palestine meeting in 1997, Madiba reminded us that South Africans’ freedom is incomplete without that of the Palestinian people. Madiba was guided by his humanitarian spirit and respect for human rights. It is for this reason, that SAMWU recognises and supports Palestinians’ right to self-determination. SAMWU further supports the BDS campaigns of boycotting South African retail stores that continue to do business with the oppressive and apartheid Israel.
Madiba was also committed to the eradication of poverty in South Africa. In honour of Madiba, we should therefore, as organised intensify our demands for living and decent wages. Minimum wages should be implemented as a matter of urgency to ensure that South Africans are alleviated from the triple threat challenges – poverty, unemployment and inequality. In his words, “overcoming poverty is not an act of charity, it is an act of justice. Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not normal”. We should not be ashamed to be associated with socialism as this will be the only remedy to the economic situations that South Africans find themselves in.
South Africa will remain indebted and grateful for Madiba’s selfless contributions and his spirit will continue to live within us.
Issued by SAMWU Head Office
National Media Officer
South African Municipal Workers’ Union
84 Fredericks Street