President of COSATU, comrade Sdumo Dlamini,
ANC chairperson, Comrade Marius Fransman,
General Secretary of the SACP, Comrade Blade Nzimande,
Leadership of the Alliance,
Comrades, friends, Fellow South Africans,
Molweni, goeie middag, good afternoon in the beautiful city of Cape Town!
We meet today on a very important day dedicated to the workers of our country and the world.
While South African workers first celebrated May Day in 1904, it was only until 1986 that it was recognised as a paid holiday, having been established internationally in 1886.
This recognition followed the resolute, relentless and militant stance of the working class led firstly by the South African Congress of Trade Unions and later COSATU.
The trade union movement has always been an integral part of the national liberation movement.
The working class, organised through the trade union movement became conscious of the reality that their freedom from exploitation was inseparable from their national liberation.
Chief Albert Luthuli, Oliver Tambo, Moses Kotane, Nelson Mandela, Moses Mabhida, Walter Sisulu, Chris Hani and a host of other leaders of the ANC-led Alliance have emphasised the significance of the Alliance and its role in our history and our future.
Chief Albert Luthuli explained at the South African Congress of Trade Union`s Conference in 1959, that:
"SACTU is the spear, ANC the shield No worker is a good member of Congress unless he is also a Trade Unionist. No Trade Unionist is a good Trade Unionist unless he is also a member of Congress...
Workers are oppressed by political action; they must take political action in reply".
Since its inception COSATU has subscribed to this view of being a revolutionary trade union movement. This approach sought to relate the worker struggle with the broader national struggle.
As a successor to SACTU, and committed to integrating the struggles of workers to the broader national struggle, COSATU became an integral component of the ANC-led Alliance.
The understanding of oppression was therefore very deep in South Africa and cemented the Alliance.
The unity in action of the Alliance during the struggle would be demonstrated in practical action that would be undertaken by workers through withdrawing their labour power in support of the national liberation programme.
Worker`s Day is therefore a celebration of this unique Alliance between the national liberation movement the ANC, the trade union movement and the vanguard of the working class, the SACP.
The three components of the Alliance work together in a special relationship, aimed at liberating our people initially from apartheid and colonial oppression, and from poverty, deprivation and general underdevelopment. We reaffirm this Alliance, and commit ourselves to continue working together to take forward the ANC`s strategic mission as the disciplined force of the Left.
On this day we renew our call for the unity of the Alliance, which was forged in struggle.
It is only in South Africa that 17 years of freedom we could still have such an Alliance in existence.
The Alliance unity needs to deepen further, for us to be able to take forward the national democratic revolution.
The Alliance is the only force that can chart the future of this country. It is the only force that can bring about the developmental state we are talking about, which will help to further improve the living and working conditions of the workers and the poor.
This is what defines us and separates us from many formations. This is why any progressive and revolutionary thinker would want to identify with the Alliance.
We may argue and disagree on strategy and tactics at times, but we are tied together by history.
We are tied together by the tasks given to us by the founding fathers and mothers of the Alliance. And our work is far from complete.
For this reason, nobody should undermine the Alliance and downplay these important factors.
On this special day, we once again reaffirm what President Oliver Tambo said on the occasion to mark the 60th Anniversary of the SACP, 30 years ago, when he said:
"The relationship between the ANC and the SACP is not an accident of history, nor is it a natural and inevitable development. For, as we can see, similar relationships have not emerged in the course of liberation struggles in other parts of Africa... 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".
Our work of transforming this country and undoing the legacy of colonialism and apartheid is indeed far from complete.
On May 18th 2011, seventeen days from today, we will be casting our votes in the Local Government elections. Local Government is the arm of government that is closest to all our people.
Local Government is the means through which we must ensure that government meets the needs of the poor and of ordinary working men and women.
Seventeen days from today, we will not only be casting our vote for the ANC with the aim of working together to build better communities, but we will also be recalling the dedicated, selfless sacrifice, leadership and life of one of our key working class icons, the late Comrade Walter Sisulu, uXhamela.
Had he lived to that day, he would be turning ninety-nine years old.
We normally remember him only for his activism and leadership in the ANC, and forget his worker roots either as a mineworker or a bakery worker. He understood the relationship between oppression and exploitation.
Comrade Sisulu said in 1955, "The victory can only be won and imperialism uprooted by forging strong ties of Alliance between the liberation movements and the trade union movements, by correcting any misconceptions that the trade unions had nothing to do with politics.
"Similarly, political leaders must know that the struggle of the people depends on the workers, and therefore it must be their duty to organise workers into the trade union movement".
As the ANC prepares to turn 100 years next year, it prides itself on having leadership and stalwarts whose political guidance remains as valuable today as it was in 1955 when uttered, like these words of Comrade Xhamela. Comrades,
As we face elections, we do so under the background that we have achieved a lot since 1994, but more needs to be done. We have made a noticeable break with the policies and practices of the apartheid past.
We have built houses that give shelter to over 10 million poor people.
Today, the overwhelming majority of our people have access to free basic water and electricity, with nearly 6 million households having access to clean water and nearly five million homes connected to electricity.
The ANC has opened the doors of learning for the majority of our people, dramatically improving access to education in our country. We are implementing measures to ensure that access to finance is not a barrier to higher education and training.
Our infrastructure programme has boosted the economy and expanded access to services. This programme has helped to create jobs and protect communities from even more adverse effects of the global economic crisis. Through this programme, we have revitalised many clinics, hospitals and schools.
The ANC has implemented a comprehensive social security programme to protect the poor and vulnerable and linked it to empowering poor people to engage in economic activity and become less dependent on social grants.
We continue to strive to make our communities safer, resulting in a decrease in most crimes, including armed robberies, housebreakings and contact crimes.
The task of creating a better life for all requires every South African to work together to bring about meaningful change. Government cannot do this by itself.
Working together we can create better communities.
The African National Congress, COSATU and the SACP are united in this mission of creating better communities in the Western Cape and around the country.
The local government elections of the 18th of May provide an opportunity for the people of this city and province to make a new beginning.
The elections provide an opportunity to make new choices that will take the province back to its proud non-racial and inclusive Congress tradition.
This we can do by giving the ANC an overwhelming majority that would make it impossible for other parties to repeat what they did in the past, of ganging up against the ANC in Cape Town and the Western Cape.
On the 18th of May, we must declare that the time has come to free Cape Town and the Western Cape.
The era of divisions, pain and underdevelopment must come to an end. Cape Town and the Western Cape must become an integral part of the South African rainbow nation.
We want to work with the people of Cape Town and the Western Cape in implementing our five priorities; education, health, rural development, the fight against crime and creating decent work.
We must expand access to education to all the children of the Western Cape including the farming areas.
One of the commitments we made during the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup was to ensure that every South African child attends school.
According to the Statistics South Africa 2009 General Household Survey, about two hundred thousand children, in the seven to fifteen year age group, do not attend school, especially in the farming areas of the Western Cape. The majority of these children are either African or Coloured.
In addition, over five hundred thousand children in the 16 to 18 year age group do not attend any type of education institution.
The majority of these children are Coloured, and are located in the Western Cape and Northern Cape provinces.
Research points out that the reasons why so many Coloured youth are out of school include better access to labour market opportunities, especially on farms in the Western Cape.
There is also the negative impact of gang violence and possibly the impact of alcohol abuse on unborn children which is prominent in Western Cape rural areas.
We must work together to deal with these matters and ensure that children are not denied an education.
On rural development and land reform, the ANC government is working on legislation that will give greater protection to farm workers and farm dwellers. We will also improve our capacity to monitor and enforce compliance with this legislation.
As you are aware, we have declared 2011 the year of economic transformation and job creation.
Therefore, creating decent work is at the centre of our economic policies and our work. Research has indicated that we can create jobs in six priority areas.
These are infrastructure development, agriculture, mining and beneficiation, manufacturing, the green economy and tourism.
We have identified the fisheries sector within agriculture as a key potential jobs and economic growth driver, providing opportunities to rural fishing communities along South Africas 3000 kilometre coastline.
Since assuming control of the Fisheries Sector in 1994, the ANC Government has brought about remarkable change to an industry that was previously dominated by five big white-owned fishing companies throughout the apartheid era.
Today, up to sixty percent of all fishing rights in this multibillion rand sector are awarded to previously disadvantaged fisher folk and fishing communities.
However, this industry still remains confronted by serious structural challenges.
Big fishing companies still control the bulk of the industries catch, process and marketing infrastructure. New entrants are unable to operate without the infrastructure and marketing network of big business.
Working with the big companies, we intend to tackle this financial disparity head-on.
We have to ensure that the broad-based aspirations of rural inland and coastal fishing communities are appropriately accommodated.
We will also explore opportunities for new jobs in the rural areas of the Eastern Cape, where an abundance of abalone, lobster and other natural marine resources remain commercially unexploited.
As said one of our key priorities is the fight against crime. We remain concerned by the high rate of the abuse of alcohol and drugs in Cape Town and surroundings.
I visited a Mitchell`s Plain drug rehabilitation centre early this year, and was heartened to see the commitment of many community members to work with government to bring about an end to this scourge.
We are also encouraged by the ongoing commitment by the community of Cape Town to deal with crime in general.
Ongoing collaboration between the ANC government and the community will help to eradicate this scourge.
Our communities need a team in local government in Cape Town that will be sensitive to such challenges, who will be our link with the community.
We need a team that will help us erase the artificial divisions that were entrenched by colonial oppression and apartheid among our people in this city and province.
We need a new team that will be as committed to the people of Khayelitsha as they would be to those of Mitchell`s Plain and Constantia.
We need a team that will know and understand that human beings do not use open air toilet facilities, even if they are black and poor. We need a team that cares in Cape Town.
In this regard, we have directed all our candidates in Cape Town and around the country as well, to be ready for hard work, to build more united, non-racial and integrated communities across our cities and towns.
Our candidates will be working with national and provincial government to implement a well-thought out programme of action.
We want to establish new housing developments closer to work and other economic opportunities.
We will ensure that our public transport infrastructure development programme lessens the time and financial burden of workers.
We will mobilise communities against crime by promoting the formation of street and village committees and through partnerships with the private sector, community groups and municipalities.
We will work together to strengthen and support struggling municipalities, especially in the rural areas.
We will strengthen the voice of communities and ensure that all councillors serve and account to the people they represent.
We will ensure that ward committees are better resourced, more powerful, and are taken seriously by municipalities and receive support from government.
There is nothing that we cannot achieve if we continue working together as communities, under the leadership of the ANC-led Alliance.
Today we reaffirm that the mission of the ANC Alliance continues. A lot has been achieved in 17 years of freedom, but a lot more work must still be done.
More people still need shelter, electricity, water, roads, education and other necessities.
The legacy of apartheid and colonialism cannot be undone in only 17 years of freedom. Let us strengthen the Alliance so that it can support the ANC government as it continues the transformation of the country.
Let us strengthen the ANC so that it can lead the country in building better communities.
Vote ANC on the 18th of May, 2011!
Happy Worker`s Day to all!