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Ramaphosa wants to see successful, peaceful, corruption-free conferences

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa.
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi.

As the ANC and its alliance partners prepare to elect new leaders, President Cyril Ramaphosa says he hopes to see successful, violence-free and corruption-free conferences.

“This is the year of conferences. Our movement broadly and the congress movement will be holding many conferences ... and at end of the year, the ANC itself is going to conference.

“I am hoping that these conferences will go on successfully, violence-free and corruption-free so we can elect our leaders and the type of leaders who are going to take our organisations forward,” said Ramaphosa on Wednesday.

He made the remarks in his capacity as ANC president while delivering the keynote address at the three-day 17th National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) national congress.

A total of 682 voting delegates and 45 local and international organisations will participate in the appointment of new leaders at the congress, taking place under the theme “Back to basics is when we defend and advance to build a radical movement” at the Birchwood Hotel & Conference Centre in Boksburg, Gauteng.

Ramaphosa said going back to basics means individuals should put their movements above their personal interests.

“We must put our movements and organisations first. They must be our primary preoccupation ... not what is in the interest of a particular individual, that should not be the preoccupation.”

Ramaphosa said a progressive culture was being developed.

“If, for instance, leaders are found to have been involved in malfeasance, charged and found guilty, the step-aside culture and policy must apply, whether it is in the ANC, your unions or Cosatu. Wherever it is, we must become a progressive congress movement that upholds good values, progress and revolutionary values.”

For renewal to be achieved, Ramaphosa said, “we must commit to ongoing study and learning around the aims and objectives of our movement. This is what going back to basics is all about.”

Now more than ever, Ramaphosa said, the muscle of NUM was needed to unite workers around a common goal of advancing their interests. 

“I call on you to pick up the spear and reclaim your position as the most active union, engage in mobilising and organising workers but also in driving the leadership of the alliance.

“I have called for a new consensus between the government, business, labour and civil society to resolve our country’s challenges and that this should be done as quickly as possible.

“In forging a new consensus to eradicate poverty, inequality and unemployment we want also to develop mining, construction and infrastructure along a new trajectory. We are looking at expanding new frontiers in mining in many parts of our country. As we pursue a path of ensuring that we embrace this new transition, unions such as yours should be at the forefront, leading this process.”

Ramaphosa encouraged the NUM and Cosatu to ensure that SA's workers were organised.

“Taking forward the workers' struggle depends on a strong and united alliance to ensure that Cosatu remains strong but also the alliance which includes the ANC, because the ANC itself has to reclaim its stature as the leader of society.”

This, he said, can only be done through the support of NUM and the union federation. “This it can do through the mobilisation you generate as a union and as Cosatu.”

Ramaphosa thanked the union for “playing a very important role” in the 2021 local government elections. He urged workers to get involved as ordinary members of the alliance “so the ANC can move with greater determination to renew itself”.

“As unions you are always the most organised entities that we have in our alliance and we want you to bring to bear that culture of being well organised, the culture of standing up against corruption, standing up against maladministration, standing up against leadership tussles, factionalism and internal strife and scandals.”

Ramaphosa said this culture should be brought into the ANC.

“We rely on NUM and Cosatu to strengthen the ANC and to make it the leader of society again. But also not to be shy when you see that the ANC is going wrong, not to hold back but to be critical and to speak truth to power.”

He said urgent work needed to be done to get the ANC back on track. Going back to basics meant rebuilding structures at community level, returning to activism in communities and mobilising people against social ills such as gender-based violence and environmental degradation.

Ramaphosa said he was pleased to see that 40 years on,  the structure of the NUM had changed to include women.


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