The following is the address by COSATU President, Sidumo Dlamini, to the Gaza Report-back Rally in Lenasia last Friday.
‘Almost a year ago, Gaza was run down by the occupying forces of Israel in a barbaric show of might and in pursuit of their colonial expansionist ambitions.
‘Schools, clinics, UN buildings, social services, water and electrical installations, cultural institutions and businesses literally crumbled under the weight of heavy bombs and artillery.
‘Dangerous and banned warfare chemicals, like white phosphorus were used in an attempt to annihilate the entire population, in which case women and children were the worst victims.
‘That was Israel at its best, doing what it knows best and what it has always done over the years to instil fear and terror amongst the occupied people.
‘Funded and supported by the US, Israel has no regard, whatsoever, for international law and continues to expand its colonial project to-date.
‘Illegal settlements are all over Palestine and the inhumane treatment of the people of Gaza bears testimony to the savage occupation that some refuse to see, even when evidence is so naked.
‘Dear Comrades, we are not here to tell more of the painful, yet real tales of Palestinian suffering.
‘We are here to welcome back our heroes and internationalists who sacrificed their festive joys for the cause of other people.
‘They set about an impossible mission to invade the lion’s den in a bold effort to demonstrate to the Gaza people that no matter how much their pain, the world community of progressive peoples shall never forsake them.
‘You did that on all our behalf dear comrades and for that, we salute you!
‘As COSATU, we are proud of our contribution and are fully committed to work with all who share our views and commitment that the crisis in Palestine has gone beyond mere calls for Press statements and sympathies or even charity to demanding concrete and practical action.
‘The luxury of lamenting is for cowards and armchair activists.
‘We all should be in the streets demanding justice and supporting all attempts to isolate apartheid Israel through the courageous efforts of the Global BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) Campaign.
‘It remains the only peaceful method at the disposal of those in search for justice and a lasting solution to the crisis in that region.
‘We call upon all organisations, individuals and institutions to join our hands and support the efforts, as outlined in the historic Cairo Declaration, for effective co-ordination of all our efforts for maximum impact.
‘In this regard, the many organisations in our country doing work in solidarity with Palestine are called upon to be part of the initiative towards a united front for solidarity with the people of Palestine, starting with all of us here in South Africa.
‘COSATU has, on several occasions, been asked by opportunists why is it interested in a matter so far away from our land.
‘The answer is simple, solidarity knows no boundaries or even geography, its about living people and their plight.
‘Our destiny is tied to theirs, our liberation is tied to theirs, our humanity is tied to theirs.
‘Therefore, no worthy human being would tolerate the suffering and pain of others, wherever they are, worst still, those of us who have fought heroic struggles against apartheid, colonialism and occupation immediately feel it however far.
‘We received solidarity from people we have never seen and were far away from Africa, let alone our country.
‘They heard and responded to our cries.
‘They did not ask how far are we from them.
‘They asked what can we do to assist and they assisted, hence we are free.
‘Finally, dear comrades, we salute the courageous efforts of the Palestine Solidarity movement for organising these bold initiatives and they have our full support.
‘We shall not be intimidated by attempts to silence us or some of our comrades.
‘We shall be inspired to speak out even more loudly and angrily for the threat to deny us our right to shout loud against savagery.
‘We are here to affirm the correctness of our legend, Nelson Mandela’s words, “… our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”.
‘On our part, we do not promise to do everything, but our most humble, yet effective contribution which we have no doubt shall make a decisive difference.
‘Each one of us must do our part and together we shall conquer.’
l The South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) has pledged its full support ‘to our FAWU (Food and Allied Workers Union) comrades currently on strike in the beer division of SAB and ABI Coke’.
It said in a statement: ‘The demands of our comrades are entirely reasonable, the intransigence of the management completely irresponsible and inappropriate in the new South Africa.
‘We note with keen interest the comments of the General Secretary of our Federation COSATU, Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi, to support the call for a consumer boycott, and to challenge the 2010 World Cup sponsorship of Coke as part of the campaign to encourage ABI management to make a meaningful response to the demands of FAWU.
‘SAMWU pledges to inform its entire membership, and the communities where they live, to support the boycott and campaign in favour of FAWU’s demands.
‘Furthermore, we will take up this issue in every Province and urge every municipality to respect the boycott in support of FAWU.
‘We have no doubt that if a call was made for an international boycott this would be respected by our sister unions globally.
‘An injury to one is an injury to all!
‘The steadfastness of the workers on strike in the face of intimidation, threats, and media manipulation is a tribute to their courage and determination.
‘We congratulate our FAWU comrades on strike, and the leadership of FAWU for their principled stand. We are proud to be associated with them.
‘Viva FAWU Viva!