'To truthfully honour Mandela, we must renew the freedom struggle of the working class and rural poor'

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By the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa

December 8, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) joins the people of South Africa, and the world, in mourning the passing on of our freedom fighter, political prisoner, people’s hero, people’s servant, leader of our people and founding father of our post-1994 democratic dispensation, President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

Metalworkers across the length and breadth of our country mourn the sad passing of this arguably greatest world inspirational leader of the 20th century.

We lower our red banners not as a sign of respect to death’s vengeance, but as a tribute to President Mandela who was a symbol of our people’s resilience and struggle for a free, democratic and prosperous South Africa.

We shed our tears in grief with the rest of the working and masses of our country for losing this great son of Africa. His exemplary revolutionary political life will be celebrated by different generations to come.

President Mandela will forever be admired and adored by the militant and fighting Metalworkers of our country.

We shall always remember the famous speech he delivered when he was inaugurated as president of a democratic South Africa, 19 years ago. His words ring very loudly in our ears today, when he said:

Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.

President Mandela’s life touched many South Africans, young and old, black and white, because his life shone through our shared aspirations of a life of full human equality enshrined in the Freedom Charter.

His outstanding contribution to our struggle for liberation, freedom, democracy and people’s power will be celebrated by many generations to come.

We salute his generation for choosing to serve our people even if the price they had to pay for doing so was their lives.

President Mandela was a living example of selflessness and voluntarism. He was the Volunteer-in-Chief of the Defiance Campaign, which resuscitated mass mobilisation and intensified the ANC’s struggle against the apartheid regime.

President Mandela’s sincerity, courage and willingness to sacrifice his life for his beliefs led to his participation in the formation of Umkhoto We Sizwe.

His ability to endure humiliation, indomitable capacity to make personal sacrifices and his patience and power to persevere saw him suffer 27 years of imprisonment. His non-racist love for humanity as an African freedom fighter and revolutionary allowed him to embrace his jailers and to advance reconciliation, against all odds.

The passing on of President Mandela marks the end of a political era in our journey towards full freedom. To truthfully and fully honour Mandela and his Comrades, President Mandela’s passing on must herald the birth of our renewal to intensify the struggle for full economic sovereignty, for complete economic freedom of the working class and the rural poor.

His passing on must spur us to fight even harder for the attainment of all the ideals he stood for: liberty, freedom, dignity, democracy and full social and economic equality of all human beings. Not to do so, will be to betray him and his Comrades.

In honour of this giant of our liberation struggle, and in recognition and respect of our country’s President Comrade Jacob Zuma’s declaration of a 10-day period of national mourning, and the eventual burial of President Mandela on the 15th of December 2013, NUMSA has postponed its Special National Congress from the 13th to the 16th of December to the 17th to the 20th of December 2013.

The entire NUMSA leadership, and all our 333,241 members, send our deepest condolences to the African National Congess, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the South African Communist Party, the mass democratic movement and to the entire Mandela’s family.