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POLITICAL INPUT BY DENOSA PRESIDENT SIMON HLUNGWANI AT THE 8th NATIONAL CONGRESS MARCH 2019

OLIVE CONVENTION CENTRE, DURBAN
13 MARCH 2019
 
President of the ANC, Cde Cyril Ramaphosa in absentia 
Second Deputy President, Cde Thandeka Msibi
National Treasurer, Cde Mosidi Nkambule
Acting General Secretary, Cde Cassim Lekhoathi
Acting Deputy General Secretary, Cde Kwena Manamela
Acting Deputy General Secretary, Cde Dimakatso Sebopa
Members of the National Executive Committee
Members of Provincial Executive committees
Learner Movement Leadership, National and Provincial 
Former Leaders of DENOSA,
The Second Deputy President and Deputy General Secretary of our Federation, COSATU Cde Louise Thipe and Cde Solly Phetoe
Representative of the SACP and SANCO in absentia 
Representative of the Department of Health including the Chief Nursing Officer, Dr Nonhlanhla Makhanya.
The CEO and Registrar of the Nursing Council, Ms Sizeni Mchunu,
The GS of PSCBC, Cde Frikkie,
Our strategic partners,
Fraternal partners, Botswana, Swaziland, Zimbabwe.
Chairperson of SANNAM, Cde Simangaliso Mafa,
PSI Representative, Cde Fambisa
Deputy President of ICN, Cde Thembeka Gwagwa,
Other COSATU affiliates present here, SAEPU, PAWUSA, SADTU & POCRU,
Staff of DENOSA 
 
Let me take this opportunity to welcome you all to the 8th Elective National Congress of lovely organisation, DENOSA.
We are meeting under the theme:
“Strengthening unity and cohesion in the organisation for optimal member servicing” 
Survival of a trade union depends on their ability to draw on the strength and energies of their members. It is important that we reflect honestly on the progress of DENOSA or lack thereof since the 7th National Congress. We are called upon to make this assessment of the work done during this term, to identify difficult arears that we traversed, but most importantly to define way forward that will assist our organisation to grow.
 
This National Congress takes place just after the centenary of Mama Sisulu. A lot has been said about Mama Albertina Sisulu as a political giant, but not so much is said about her career – nursing – which she was extremely passionate about. The nursing profession in South Africa has been shaped by mama Sisulu quite extensively. In fact she understood very well that nursing profession had been politicised, in line with how the country was run during apartheid years. This is where she showed leadership and put her foot down on many attempts by the state, through its agents, to effect apartheid-era changes into the profession. 
In 1958, for example, she led nurses in a protest at Baragwanath Hospital against the South African Nursing Council (SANC) which had demanded that nurses and student nurses supply the Council with their ID numbers, as a way to push segregation policies into the nursing profession. Mama Sisulu had realised that the pass laws that were applied at the time were being forced through the window into the nursing profession. Subsequent to this protest the Council reversed the decision, which was the victory for nurses and, undoubtedly, thanks to the great foresight and leadership excellence of mama Sisulu. 
As DENOSA, we owe our very existence to the same foresight and leadership excellence of mama Sisulu, because she was very instrumental in the formation of DENOSA. The efforts to form DENOSA were never easy and they often required outstanding leadership qualities. Mama Sisulu brought this to the table on many occasions, as she had to broker ceasefires many times during the talks and consultations. 
 
It is a great honour for us, the DENOSA family, to launch the Albertina Sisulu Leadership Excellence Award, which will recognise nurses who have shown outstanding leadership qualities in the course of their work each year. 
We are happy to have finally realised this long-lasting recognition of mama Nontsikelelo Albertina Sisulu, a nurse leader who had the courage to question the establishment at the time when the harshest punishment could be meted out on her. 
We hope this will inspire many nurses into taking up leadership roles as nurses to effect the much-needed changes in the workplace for an improved healthcare service to patients and communities, which is what mama Sisulu was passionate about. 
There are memorable activities that we pulled through in this term that includes amongst others, the march to the NDoH and SANC in 2017; who will forget the remarkable 20 years celebration that we held in 2016, the 3rd Nurses Conference held in 2016.
We may recall that the 7th national congress of DENOSA resolved on the matter of constitutional amendments, that after the completion of the research that we commissioned to look at the merits and demerits of election versus appoints. I can confirm that the research team will present their report in this congress. It is my wish that we can conclude on what we need amended so that we can effect necessary changes and hope that we will be able to solve the puzzle where learner movement section is made part of the main constitution, unless the current addendum status. 
It is common course that towards any congress, there is mobilisation towards a particular course. It has been acknowledged by the DENOSA NEC that we did not demobilise after the congress held in 2014, thus factions wanting to show power over others at the expense the organisation. The organisation took a knock as a ripple effect of factions rendering it semi-paralysed at some stage. Factions in their nature have a potential to survive through wrong means, such as the decanting of patronage and other means.
A critical account of the history of nursing in South Africa as explored and clearly narrated by Shula Marks in 1994 in her book “Divided sisterhood” should inform our discussion in this congress with regard to the challenges that the profession faces to date. Although this history relates to predominantly the apartheid era, 
it is clear that even now the nursing profession is fragmented and with incoherent soft voices that do not form any rhythm that could benefit the profession. The divisions are no longer racial or ethnical, however they are too loud to be ignored by any conscious profession loving individual. I therefore challenge the congress to find solutions that will help us traverse these problems going forward.
With the fourth industrial revolution steadfast into the future, we must be seen to be making efforts to adjust as a profession, most importantly as an organisation in order for the country not to leg behind. We must discuss this matter in one of our commissions so that we are ready as a country.
 
The performance of the Economy of our country places a huge burden on the working class. Unemployment rate remains high with Youth unemployment keeping the rise where it is currently more than 50%, a recipe for a crises such as civil disobedience. Meantime we suffered VAT increase of 1% to 15%, now NERSA has given Eskom a whopping 9.4% increase for the current financial year and more increases for the outer years. I think we must make enough noise to alert Eskom that renewable energy is not only reserved for IPPs. 
Our employer, the government of South Africa is adopting a new phenomenon of wanting to be a surprise announcement rally where we just heard recently the minister of DPSA intending to retrench employees who are 60 years and above as well as the announcement of social policies, another announcement of unbundling of Eskom was made by surprise methods. All these will likely add a strain on the working class. We wish they desist from this temptation of populism. 
 
DENOSA must strengthen its efforts to be a strong voice for Nurses in the country. For us to achieve this, we must be a strong organisation and to be a strong organisation requires a united leadership, which means we must address disunity and dissonance. It will require serious commitment from all of us.
Part of what we have noted as a grey area within our organisation is the area of policies. The NEC realised that we do not have or we have outdated policies in some areas. This task remain paramount for the survival of our organisation.
 
The regional politics of Africa has been very interesting in recent years. The Kenyan, Zimbabwean and DRC elections had similarities. Raila Odinga, Nelson Chamisa and Martin Fayulu all declared themselves Presidents before the official announcements. We are glad that all that never led to civil wars in our lovely continent. 
 
DENOSA continues to play a pivotal role at an international front through the structures that we are affiliated to, namely the International Council of Nurses (ICN), Commonwealth Nurses and Midwives Conference (CNMF), Eastern Central and Southern African Confederation of Nurses and Midwives (ECSACON) and the Southern Africa Network of Nurses and Midwives (SANNAM). BRICS nursing forum and the Public Service International (PSI).
The worrisome situation in DRC where Ebola continues to ravage the region with lives of the Sons and Daughters of the soil perishing like flies. Let’s pray for success in the efforts to eliminate this outbreak.
The IND this year will be celebrated under the following theme:
“NURSES: A VOICE TO LEAD, HEALTH for all  
Nurses are a vital access point to 24/7, birth to death, emergency and ongoing care”
Influencing policy is our obligation in order to address conditions of service of members and most importantly the health of society in general.
 
The new curriculum for nursing education in South Africa is unavoidable while the nursing strategy is under review at the moment. I urge this congress to engage thoroughly and resolve on what would become our input to the Ministerial Task Team dealing with the review of the Nursing Strategy. 
 
We continuously experience challenges with regard to the health system in the country such as experienced by Community Services Nurses in our country, placement and so on; this in my view is clear sign that the new bursary system is not working. We want the persal system back.
 
We need to do more on leadership development. Leaders of DENOSA should be capacitated in areas of high interest such as Academic, Management, Research and Executive Leadership. Create a deliberate programme of capacitation and stick to it.
 
Aristotle defines Dialectical reasoning as a process of arriving at truth through a process of comparing and contrasting various solutions. We should use this process as advanced by Hegel through his work to ensure that the best interest of DENOSA is upheld at all times.
 
We are here to find innovative ways to secure adequate material resources in order to facilitate competitiveness. To build cohesion in our efforts. If we are a strategic centre of nursing politics, we should ensure a seamless process while protecting the integrity of our processes.
In all the discussions we will have here, let us be mindful of the fact that DENOSA remains the only hope for many nurses in our country. 
 
Therefore we should be hard on our opinions, and critically examine our thoughts. Identify our biases and prejudices. Asses our privileges. Acknowledge our own nuance. Argue one point using different sets of assumptions. Avoid generating false dichotomies and lastly, humble ourselves.
 
The character of DENOSA leadership should be clear and distinct, easy to orientate any new member. 
 
Coming out of this congress, we must be clear on our mandate for the coming term, our value proposition to members and nurses in general should be of high quality encapsulated by virtue ethics. The Basic elements of any organisation of our nation is the branch, those branches are fundamental to function. Let’s ensure we continue to service those members. 
 
Increasing of subscription fees is eminent, I humbly advise that if that is the decision we make, it should be coupled with ensure that we have well-articulated cost containment measures as well and as a condition we ensure that we resolve to increase benefits to the members.
 
High-Level commission on Health Employment and Economic growth Growth (HEEG) report where the global economy is projected to create 40 million new health sector jobs, the fundamental being that Health is an investment and should not be viewed as an expenditure.
 
Strengthen the Professional side of the organisation, seminars such as those we used to have like wound care, hand washing. 
 
Universal Health Coverage is known as NHI in our country, we need to continue making noise that strengthening PHC is the only key to realise that and most importantly having adequate Nurses vehicle to render same.
 
National General Elections on the 8th May 2019, voter apathy that was there during Local Government Elections is addressed and the hype is created
I think it’s important that we define what a cadre is -  a cadre is an individual who has achieved sufficient conscious development, especially political development, to be able to interpret the extensive directives emanating from objective and subjective conditions that the majority of our people find themselves in, make them his problems, and transfer these as orientation for social transformation towards a democratic society. A person who at the same time also perceives the signs manifested by the masses of their own desires and their innermost motivations. This is an individual who knows how to evaluate the existing contradictions and to utilise fully the many democratic facets, who knows how to practice the principle of collective discussion and to make decisions on his/her own and take responsibility.
 
The Cuban Revolutionarist- Jose Marti. Says and I quote 
“trenches of ideas are worth than trenches of stones”
This brings me to the point that was raised by Amilca Cabral, I quote,
“Educate ourselves, educate other people, the population in general, to fight fear and ignorance, to eliminate little by little the subjection to nature and natural forces which our economy has not yet mastered. Convince little by little, n~ particular the militants of the Party that we shall end by conquering the fear of nature, and that man is the strongest force in nature.
 
Demand from responsible Party members that they dedicate themselves seriously to study, that they interest themselves in the things and problems of our daily life and struggle in their fundamental and essential aspect, and not simply in their appearance, Learn from life, learn from our people, learn from books, learn from the experience of others. Never stop learning”.
 
Pets stories:
A lovely family in Johannesburg was owning chickens, the father gave the chicks to his little, she loved them so much that one night she read them a bed time story so that they can fall asleep. The chicks could not sleep, she read another one until she realised they don’t fall asleep. So she decided to hug all of them to sleep, still they didn’t sleep until she squeezed them harder. 
 
This story is similar to the gold fish story, where a young boy was bought one. One night he felt he needed to warm it as it was cold, he took it out fold nicely in this blankets. Only did he become that it didn’t survive when the mother went to his bed to check if he was well tucked in.
 
I would like to urge that we engage robustly in solution based discussion. May we have a fruitful congress.
 
Long live DENOSA, Long live.
 
Amandla