26 March 2017
The South African Democratic Teachers' Union (SADTU) in the Eastern Cape held its 9th provincial conference, from 23 to 25 March 2017 at Regent Hotel in East London.
The conference saw the province emerging more unified as it elected its new leadership and adopted a declaration.
SADTU in the Eastern Cape has since February 2015 been led by a provincial task team that was appointed by the National office after the disbandment of the provincial leadership structure following serious irregularities that took place in a provincial elective Conference in July 2014.
The Eastern Cape is the first province to hold its conference. The other eight provinces will hold theirs between April and July. The provincial congresses are a build up to the Union National General Council (NGC) that will be held in October. The NGC is the second biggest decision making structure between congresses dealing with major policy issues.
The new provincial leadership was elected as follows:
Provincial Chairperson: Thabile Kunene
Deputy Chairperson: Mpothe Lazola
Secretary: Chris Mdingi Deputy Secretary: Nolitha Mboniswa
Treasurer: Khanyisile Boyce
Education Convener: Yoliswa Saziwa
Gender Convener: Nomxolisi Makayi
Sports, Arts and Culture Convener: Pumza Nyama.
The conference adopted a declaration that committed the union to work hard towards building unity not only in the Union but also within the Tripartite Alliance. SADTU, as an affiliate of COSATU, is therefore an Alliance member.
The Declaration of the 9th Eastern Cape Provincial Conference:
We, the 278 delegates to this Provincial Conference, representing over 40 000 members, convened under the National Congress theme; "Restore the Character of SADTU as a Union of Revolutionary Professionals, Agents of Change and Champions of People's Education for People's Power in pursuit of Socialism" acknowledge that we have a critical role to play in advancing the National Democratic Revolution.
We met to undertake the critical tasks of reviewing the programmes of the organisation, its policy positions, and progress made on its 2030 Vision and broader issues within and outside the Basic Education sector.
We are inspired by the life and times of one of our fallen heroes, comrade Oliver Reginald Tambo. Comrade "OR" symbolized throughout his life the people's quest for justice, equality and access to quality public education for all. Comrade "OR" led our movement under trying circumstances; he pursued the ultimate goal of the unity of the working class and the oppressed people of our country.
He understood that it is only through quality education that we can truly emancipate the majority from the shackles of poverty and chronic inequality. As the delegates to this Provincial Conference, we are prepared to be part of the solution; we are prepared to play our role as revolutionary professionals to see to it that our strategic developmental goals as a nation are realized.
We acknowledge that the basic education landscape in our province exhibits features that are strikingly inconsistent with the national norm. The right of the African working class child to quality public education in our province has been grossly limited by a basic education system that has been unstable for a long time. Education workers have been exposed to hostile conditions of service due to severe challenges in the provincial department of education.
As the delegates to this conference, we recognize these challenges as part of our daily reality, a reality that if not attended to with the necessary sense of urgency will condemn our future as a country and indeed that of the people of our province to poverty, unemployment, inequality and a lack of development. We further recognize that under such circumstances it can no longer be business as usual.
We further note that the performance by the provincial department of education has been lackluster. We believe that the administration has failed the people of our province in as far as basic education is concerned. The administration failed to take accountability when required to for certain failures and there has been no consequence for senior administrators that blatantly fail the system. We will not accept administrative and leadership deficiencies that have a negative impact on the sector from those that occupy offices at various levels of the system, from national to the circuit offices.
We note that there are challenges that we are still facing in the sector; we still have the 0,5% disparity, non-implementation of Collective Agreements, the threat of privatization of and in education with the latest example being "e-marking", education infrastructure shortages, unfavourable conditions of service, challenges in the ECD, a system that inherently de-professionalises the teachers, the unilateral declaring of a policy on competency assessment for principals and developments on the BELA Bill. Over and above the work that we do in collective bargaining chambers to raise these consistently, we still need to profile and highlight them within our communities.
We lament the fact that on several occasions over the past few years we have had to resort to the courts of law to compel the employer to act in a correct and just manner. Furthermore, in certain instances, the Provincial Department played an active role and pursued its interest within our organizational discourse as a Union, an agenda we ultimately defeated and will continue to guard against.
As the delegates to this 9th Provincial Conference, we acknowledge that our Union is emerging from an extremely difficult phase organizationally in the Province. We are emerging from a phase during which some amongst us had gone to the extent of organising and attempting to recruit members from within our ranks to alternatives.
We acknowledge that our adversaries have been working hard to liquidate our Union and that they are acquiring new accomplices to be part of their project that intends to see SADTU surrender her status as the majority Union in the sector in the province to an alternative pseudo-organization. At the forefront of this project is the wedge driver that Cde OR Tambo once correctly warned us against. This is a project that we will defeat as we will continue to work even harder to organize, mobilize and service our members.
Unanimously and emphatically we agree that it is only through unity that our Union can regain its former glory in the Province. It is only through the re-affirmation of the supremacy of our Constitution that we can defend the legacy of our Union and preserves it for future generations.
We declare that our unity is sacrosanct and that we will work hard to defend it. It is our firm view as the delegates that education workers must be organized under one umbrella for that it is where their real power lies; that is the only way through which they can ensure that the employer is held accountable and that there is nothing about them without them.
And it is our belief that any individual or grouping working against the unity of the workers to their own detriment must be exposed, isolated and ultimately defeated. We are aware that as education workers; we have no any other home outside of SADTU.
As the delegates to this 9th Provincial Conference we acknowledge that one of our immediate tasks will be to ensure that the organization in the Province is revitalized and energized. We will ensure that the Union remains firmly worker controlled and that programmatically it is fully aligned to the National Structure given the unitary nature of the organization.
Conference acknowledges that that our Federation, COSATU is undergoing organizational strain and that this has affected its functionality in the province as well. We are committed to working towards the revival of the Federation into a campaigning and militant one. COSATU remains the only hope and shield for the workers.
We note that our strategic ally, the African National Congress has led our country to greater heights since the dawn of democracy. A number of strategic interventions have since been introduced in all spheres of government including basic education and these have proven to be very successful in the context of development. We accept that it is only through the ANC led government that we have made major developmental advances as a country.
We are concerned however with the institutionalized factionalism that has taken over the ANC. As we move towards the national conference of the ANC, contradictions are sharpening along factional lines and these are having a paralyzing effect on our movement. We advise our ally, the African National Congress to save itself from self-induced destruction. As it moves towards its national conference, we urge the ANC to avoid debilitating contestations and to observe its own established traditions.
We declare that we remain fully committed to the National Democratic Revolution; we reaffirm our commitment to the Tripartite Alliance that is biased to the working class and the poor.
ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat
Mugwena Maluleke: 082 783 2968
Deputy General Secretary,
Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651
Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi: 082 719 5157