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Address by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa at the SADTU KZN Gala Dinner

Leadership of SADTU,
Leadership of the Alliance,
Comrades and Compatriots,
 
Revolutionary Greetings!
 
I wish to thank SADTU in KwaZulu-Natal for inviting me to address this gala dinner.
 
SADTU occupies a special place in the history of the struggle for a better life for all South Africans.
 
It is this union that fought and won the battle for the recognition of a teachers’ union in our country.
 
You spearheaded the fight for collective bargaining in the public sector.
 
You were at the forefront of gender equality in the education sector.
 
You guaranteed that the conditions of service for women improve and that maternity benefits are paid to women teachers.
 
On behalf of the poor and the working class, SADTU continues to oppose the privatisation of education ensuring that the right to education is enjoyed by many, not a privileged few.
 
It is not only organising and championing the needs of educators in early childhood development, but remains invested in the welfare of teachers who are committed to work in remote, poor rural communities.
 
To succeed in developing our nation, we cannot leave the education of our children to chance.
 
The members of SADTU know that education is the most effective and powerful tool we possess to achieve reconstruction and development.
 
It is SADTU that has led the work to open the doors of learning and to embrace the Freedom Charter call that:
 
“The aim of education shall be to teach the youth to love their people and their culture, to honour human brotherhood, liberty and peace.”
 
We knew that of all professions, there is none better placed than teaching to eradicate racial bigotry, ethnic chauvinism and sexism.
 
At your launch, we entrusted SADTU with the historic mandate to develop a new generation of patriotic South Africans who cherished the dreams and championed the interests of the poor.
 
We knew that SADTU would be the revolutionary instrument to transform our nation in honour of our great teachers, people like Dr John Langalibalele Dube, Prof ZK Matthews, Oliver Tambo and Es’kia Mphahlele.
 
We knew that if we do not work together to transform the performance of our education system and its management, the deeply entrenched social and racial inequities of our horrible past would be perpetuated.
 
Comrades,
 
At the dawn of democracy, we inherited a racially segregated education system.
 
School infrastructure backlog was massive.
 
Most black schools had no laboratories or libraries.
 
Our children were expected to do well without access to water, sanitation or electricity.
 
At the height of apartheid, per capita funding of white children was 10 times that of African learners.
 
Working together since 1994, we have worked to redress past inequalities in education.
 
Impelled by our common vision to expand the life chances of all South Africans, we have transformed the education system.
 
Together we abolished race as the basis for attending school.
 
Working with you, we have improved educational outcomes and school attendance.
 
Working with you, we introduced a pro-poor funding model.
 
Together we are expanding early childhood development, prioritising teacher development and improving the quality of learning and teaching.
 
We continue to look to SADTU for leadership.
 
We look to your members to drive the implementation of the NDP vision to diversify our economy and grow it through improved education and skills development.
 
We look to SADTU members to fight corruption and to root out violence, racism and sexism in our schools.
 
We look to SADTU to stand up against the sexual exploitation of learners, male and female.
 
We look to you to lead campaigns to make schools safe from crime, drugs and alcohol abuse.
 
Above all, SADTU must remain a home where teachers can engage freely about how they can improve their working conditions as workers.
 
Our faith remains unshakable in SADTU to play a decisive role in returning the ANC to its founding values of service and selflessness.
 
And so when we celebrate the achievements of the democratic developmental state, it is an opportunity to celebrate the vital role that Cosatu affiliates like SADTU have consistently played in expanding the frontiers of freedom and human fulfilment.
 
Comrades,
 
The KwaZulu-Natal SADTU Conference must be a reminder that we dare not rest until the democratic changes contained in the Freedom Charter are won.
 
We dare not rest until we have liberated all South Africans from political, social and economic bondage.
 
We must build the Alliance as an effective instrument of workers’ struggle.
 
We must build Cosatu as the spear and the ANC as the shield.
 
We must build an Alliance that has the strength, the resilience and the commitment to advance the revolution for which our Alliance exists.
 
Even now – as our country and our movement encounters many difficulties – we remain determined that we will not surrender the revolution.
 
We will not surrender the revolution to greed, corruption and patronage.
 
We will not surrender the institutions of our democratic state to those who want to seize them for their own enrichment.
 
These are the democratic institutions for which the workers of our country fought, and for which many lost their lives and which we are now bound to defend.
 
We will not surrender the revolution to those who subvert democratic practice, who manipulate procurement processes and who influence appointments so that they may appropriate the resources that rightly belong to the people of this country.
 
We will not surrender the revolution to factionalism and division.
 
We will ceaselessly strive for unity, within our movement, within the Alliance, within the working class and among our people.
 
We will do so because we understand that only a united ANC, a united Cosatu, a united SACP and a united Alliance can effectively lead the fundamental transformation that our people need and demand.
 
We will not surrender the revolution to reckless rhetoric and empty promises.
 
We will not surrender the revolution to those who, through every means available to them, stubbornly oppose transformation.
 
We will not surrender the revolution to those who argue that employment equity undermines the principle of merit, that black economic empowerment hinders growth, or that progressive labour legislation constrains productivity.
 
We will continue to argue – and to demonstrate – that there is no more effective way to achieve sustained inclusive growth than through the economic empowerment of South Africa’s black majority.
 
We will continue to argue – and to demonstrate – that it is only through the fundamental transformation our economy that we will realise the full potential of our people and enjoy the full benefit of our country’s bountiful resources.
 
We will not surrender the revolution to those who continue to violate the rights of workers, who continue to pay poverty wages and who continue to endanger the lives and wellbeing of their employees.
 
We will not surrender the revolution to those who continue to discriminate against women, who continue to oppress them and exploit them.
 
We will continue the fight against patriarchy in all its forms and manifestations.
 
Together, we will continue the struggle to ensure that women are equally represented in the workplace, that there is equal pay for equal work, and that there are equal opportunities for training and promotion.
 
We will work to eradicate all forms of harassment and violence against women in the workplace, at home and in our communities.
 
We will not surrender the revolution.
 
We will not abandon the struggles of workers.
 
Today we are called upon to renew our commitment to selfless service to our people.
 
We are called upon to stand together in courage and determination.
 
We are called upon to lead with virtue, wisdom and dignity.
 
We are called upon to protect our economy and safeguard the sovereignty of our people.
 
It is only when you, the workers, are vigilant that we can advance the interests of our people.
 
It is only when you, the workers, are united and effectively organised that we will transform our economy and change our society.
 
We have to speak with one voice, to silence the clamour of volatility, strife and discord.
 
We have to work to strengthen SADTU, to build the federation, organise workers that are not unionised and strive for the unity of the working class.
 
Together, we promised our people radical socio-economic transformation.
 
Together, we canvased their votes for a more inclusive future.
 
It is we who together promised them a better life for all.
 
So, together, we must lead the people in achieving these goals.
 
I thank you.