Programme Director, 1st Deputy President, Comrade Mluleki Mbhele,
2nd Deputy President, Comrade Portia Nkuna,
National Treasurer, Comrade Nwabisa Majova,
General Secretary, Comrade Dumisane Magagula,
Special greetings to Comrade Nkhetheni Muthavhi who is attending his first CEC meeting as Deputy General Secretary,
Leadership of provinces,
Delegates to this CEC,
Staff and invited guests,

Please receive warm and revolutionary greetings on behalf of the 160,000 members of SAMWU from across all nine provinces.

Programme Director, this CEC is held in the month of July, a month that holds deep significance for us as South Africans. Firstly, it is the birth month of Nelson Mandela, the father of our democracy. Secondly, it marks the anniversary of the July 2021 uprisings in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

Comrades, let us take a moment to honour the memory of those who lost their lives during these uprisings, many of whom were black and poor. Among them were our very own comrades, municipal workers who stood bravely in the face of chaos to deliver essential services. Their sacrifices must never be forgotten.

Before we are municipal workers, we are community members. We live and breathe the struggles of our people. It is for this reason that I urge all delegates here today to commit to ensuring that our country never finds itself in such a volatile situation again. We must guard against criminality and racism in our communities. We must stand united against forces that seek to divide and destroy us.

Next week, the world will celebrate Mandela Day, a day that reminds us of the legacy of a man who epitomised courage, resilience, and unwavering dedication to justice and democracy. As we approach Mandela Day, we must reflect deeply on the values and principles he stood for. Are we, as individuals and as a union, living up to the ideals of Mandela in our communities and workplaces?

We are meeting just over a month after South Africans went to the polls. We congratulate our fellow citizens for exercising their democratic right to choose their government. As SAMWU, we made a principled decision to support and vote for the African National Congress in these elections. Despite the challenges, we believe in the vision and values that the ANC represents.

In support of the ANC in these elections, we launched the Petrush Mashishi brigades. These brigades were to ensure that workers and community members are rallied behind the banner of the ANC. Additionally, we have participated in various COSATU activities aimed at securing a victory for the ANC.

Despite our efforts, the ANC’s drop to 40% in the elections signals a need for introspection and strategic planning. We must analyse the challenges and outcomes to better position ourselves for future political engagements and realignment of the left axis.

Comrades, these election outcomes are the worst results for the ANC since the party came into power 30 years ago. As workers, members, and supporters of the ANC, we need to ask ourselves what went wrong. Why did workers and community members in their majority decide to split the vote?

Programme Director, voters have however given us a mixed masala government, they have given us a government of seven colours. The President has decided to call it a Government of National Unity while others have decided to call it a coalition government.

As this CEC, we need to discuss the implications of this government of national unity and what it will mean for workers. What will this government of unity mean for service delivery to the poor who depend on government services?

We need to be honest with ourselves, this GNU is going to shake us as trade unions and workers out of our comfort zone. If there is one thing that we should never allow, it is for the GNU or any government ministry to take away the hard gains of workers. We need to stand prepared to defend these gains which are a product of the sweat and blood of those who came before us.

Comrades, in assessing the implications of this GNU, we need to remind ourselves that we are just over two years towards the local government elections. If the status quo remains, many of the country’s municipalities will be governed through governments of local unity.

As workers in Tshwane, they will tell you that these coalitions do not work in the interest of workers or service delivery. Ask our members in Nelson Mandela Bay, ask those in Johannesburg, they will all tell you the same thing.

We therefore as workers need to either choose to be comfortable with coalition governments or work the ground to ensure that the ANC returns to power as the majority party.

Programme Director, the ANC and parties that have broken away from the ANC need to ask themselves: to whose benefit was the splinter from the ANC for? Voters gave the ANC, EFF, and MKP 64% of the total vote. Was it worth it to split the ANC? Are these parties happy with the status quo? Importantly, is the ANC happy with this status quo?

Programme Director, this CEC is held just days after the announcement of the new Cabinet by President Ramaphosa as part of the Government of National Unity. As SAMWU, we note the appointment of two new ministers who will oversee the two sectors we organise in. Additionally, the new Minister of Employment and Labour will play a crucial role in managing relationships between employers and employees across the country.

In the local government sector, we have been given IFP President, Velinkosini Hlabisa, as Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. In the water sector, we have been given former ANC Chief Whip Pemmy Majodina as Minister of Water and Sanitation.

As this CEC, we need to reflect on the credentials of these new ministers and make our voices heard as to what we think of them. Do we believe that they will do justice to the portfolios to which they have been assigned?

Will they be on the side of workers? These are the questions we should ask ourselves. Importantly, comrades, we need to ask ourselves what we will be doing to enable them to improve service delivery to South Africans as a whole.

Comrades, we need to however thank the outgoing ministers in the form of Comrades Senzo Mchunu and Thembi Nkadimeng. These are comrades that we could rely on whenever we had challenges in our workplaces. The Chairs of KZN and North West will confirm the intervention by Comrade Nkadimeng when workers went on an unprotected strike in eThekwini and Rustenburg. The Chair of KZN will once again confirm that it was Minister Mchunu who brought sanity during the merger of Mhlathuze Water and uMgeni Water.

As SAMWU, we need to thank these outgoing ministers for the job that they have done in these sectors. We need to further hope and trust that the new ministers will be as hospitable as the previous ones. In fact, as a union, we are planning on writing to both ministers to request a meeting wherein we can develop working relations and continue with cordial relations in the interest of our members.

Comrades, the path ahead is fraught with challenges, but it is also filled with opportunities for us to strengthen our union, protect our members, and ensure that the principles of justice and equality that we hold dear are upheld. Let us stand united, resilient, and unwavering in our commitment to the workers of South Africa.

Comrades, we have serious problems in municipalities and water boards. As we prepare to have that engagements with two new ministers, we need to ensure that we develop a clear programme of action that we will need the minsters to attend to.

In the water sector, we are seeing a lot of reconfigurations of water boards. Many workers do not know what is going to happen with them. They do not know how their jobs are going to be affected.

In the municipal sector, we have challenges with municipalities that have made it fashionable to not implementing collective agreements. Look at Tshwane for instance, our members have not received their salary increases for the two years in a period of 3 years.

Instead of developing ways of addressing the issues raised by workers who were demanding the payment of their salary increase, the City resorted to getting our members arrested and dismissed. The arrest of our members is a direct assault on our union and the principles we stand for. We condemn these actions and demand that those workers who have been dismissed be reinstated with immediate effect.

It cannot be correct that parties go to the South African Local Government Bargaining Council to collect agreements and municipalities decide not to honour those collective agreements. Essentially what this municipalities are doing is to erode the work of the Council while also undermining collective bargaining.

Comrades, we still have a challenge with municipalities that are not paying third parties on time. These municipalities deduct from worker’s salaries pension fund, medical aid and union subscriptions and never paying them over to the intended recipient.

Chair of Northen Cape, we have received a report that workers at the! Kheis Local Municipality have not received their salaries. This is not the first time that this municipality fails to pay workers on time. As we prepare for that meeting with the new minister of COGTA, we need to ensure that this item is top priority.

We cannot have or tolerate a situation wherein workers render their labour but are not paid. Workers rely on timely wages for their livelihoods, and any delay causes undue hardship. We will continue to support our members in their fight for timely payments and better working conditions.

Comrades, as we stand on the precipice of a new era for SAMWU, we must draw strength from our history and the sacrifices of those who came before us. Our journey has never been easy, but it is our collective spirit and solidarity that have carried us through the darkest times. Now more than ever, we must harness that spirit to confront the challenges ahead and seize the opportunities that lie before us.

Our financial instability is a hurdle, but it is not insurmountable. We are a union built on the foundations of resilience and innovation. We must tap into these strengths to diversify our revenue streams, establish our investment company, and secure the financial future of SAMWU. This is not just about numbers and budgets; it is about ensuring that we can continue to serve our members, advocate for their rights, and uphold the values we stand for.

The issue of union t-shirts might seem small, but it is a powerful symbol of our unity and identity. It represents our commitment to every single member, showing them that they are a valued part of our union family. By addressing this, we are not just providing a piece of clothing; we are reinforcing the sense of belonging and pride that is crucial for our collective strength.

Our infrastructure and the high rentals we pay are another critical issue. By adopting the innovative approaches seen in provinces like Eastern Cape and Free State, we can redirect our resources more efficiently. This will enable us to better serve our members, ensuring that our operations are not hindered by financial constraints. Every rand saved on rentals is a rand that can be used to improve the lives of our members and their families.

As we prepare for the upcoming elections of our shop stewards, we must acknowledge the tireless work of those who have served and welcome the new leaders who will carry our torch forward. Our shop stewards are the backbone of our union, and their dedication and hard work are what keep SAMWU strong. We must support them, equip them with the tools they need, and stand together in solidarity as we face the future.

Strengthening our relationships with social partners and enhancing SAMWU schemes is not just about collaboration; it is about building a network of support that amplifies our voice and our impact. By working together with our partners, both locally and internationally, we can create a powerful force for change that transcends borders and empowers workers everywhere. Our partnerships with organizations like Unison and our twinning programs with Botswana are essential in this regard, helping us to learn, grow, and advocate more effectively for our members.

Our solidarity with Palestine and support for the International Court of Justice case brought by South Africa reflect our commitment to justice and human rights on a global scale. We must continue to raise our voices against oppression and injustice wherever they occur. Our struggle is not confined to the borders of South Africa; it is a universal fight for dignity, equality, and peace. By standing with Palestine, we affirm our commitment to these principles and demonstrate that SAMWU is a union that champions the rights of all oppressed peoples.

Comrades, the road ahead will not be easy, but it is a road we must travel together. Our unity is our greatest strength, and our resilience is our most powerful weapon. We must face our challenges with courage, our opportunities with optimism, and our future with unwavering determination. Together, we can build a stronger, more vibrant SAMWU that stands as a beacon of hope, justice, and solidarity for all workers.

Comrades, as we draw this gathering to a close, let us reflect on the path that lies before us with a renewed sense of purpose and determination. Our challenges are substantial, but our resolve is greater. The financial stability of SAMWU, the rights of our members, and the future of our union depend on our collective action and unwavering commitment.

Together, we can turn our financial situation around, implement strategic decisions like the establishment of our investment company, and ensure that our resources are used effectively to benefit all members. Our financial health is not just about numbers; it is about securing the future of our struggle and the livelihoods of thousands of workers who rely on us.

The symbolic gestures, such as providing t-shirts, represent more than just material items; they embody the unity and identity that bind us together. Our commitment to improving infrastructure and reducing unnecessary expenses will enable us to allocate resources where they are most needed, ensuring that SAMWU remains a strong and capable advocate for municipal workers across the nation. The dedication of our shop stewards, both outgoing and incoming, is vital to our ongoing success, and we must support them in every way possible. Our physical presence and the symbols we wear are testaments to our solidarity and our fight for dignity and respect in the workplace.

Strengthening our partnerships and collaborations, both locally and internationally, will enhance our ability to advocate for our members and advance our collective goals. Our solidarity with global movements for justice, such as our support for Palestine, underscores our commitment to human rights and our role as a force for good in the world.

By working together with our social partners and international allies, we can amplify our voice and impact, driving positive change for workers everywhere. Our fight is not just local; it is a global struggle against oppression, inequality, and exploitation. We must forge alliances that strengthen our resolve and broaden our influence.

As we move forward, let us do so with the spirit of unity, resilience, and determination that has always defined SAMWU. Our journey is far from over, but together, we can overcome any obstacle and build a brighter future for our union and our country. Let us stand firm in our principles, fight for the rights of our members, and ensure that SAMWU continues to be a beacon of hope, justice, and solidarity.

This CEC must take bold resolutions to improve the lives of our members, addressing issues from financial stability to workplace rights, ensuring that every decision made here today serves the interests of those we represent.

We are not merely participants in this struggle; we are leaders, and it is our responsibility to champion the cause of workers’ rights and social justice at every opportunity.

In unity, there is strength.