WFTU GENERAL SECRETARY GEORGE MAVRIKOS
MESSAGE FOR THE FUNERAL CEREMONY OF ERIC MTSHALI “STALIN”
DURBAN SOUTH AFRICA 21 OCTOBER 2018
brothers and sisters of COSATU and South African class-oriented trade union movement,
Today is a day of mourning for 95 million workers in 130 countries of the 5 continents.
Today is a day that the class banners of the WFTU are flying at half mast across the globe.
Today we bid farewell to a legend of our class and a hero of the South African liberation fight against imperialism and capitalist exploitation.
Eric “Stalin” Mtshali is no longer between us.
He is now resting with all these anonymous or known heroes of our big trade union family who were not afraid of state repression, who didn’t bend the knee in front of the guns, who didn’t stop fighting for the emancipation of the class who produces all the wealth.
The “man of steel” as you used to call him, has honored with his life and action the historic SACTU, COSATU and his party, the SACP. He has also honored with his presence the WFTU as a representative of the South African workers when the headquarters of WFTU were in Prague.
A militant who has turned internationalism into action, when he personally contributed in the development of class-oriented unions and in the foundation of trade union organizations in Africa, Namibia and Ethiopia. When he materially, morally and ideologically stood-up on the side of the African continent people who were fighting against neocolonialism. Not only with slogans, but with actions, in practice.
He was constantly underlined that: “The WFTU positions always championed the class positions. Where there was struggle for liberation, WFTU was there. It is stood on side of the oppressed.”
A worthy son of working class himself, as a dockworker he understood from a very early stage the need to organize workers for the overthrow of apartheid. He put into action the WFTU slogan: “No worker must feel alone”.
The WFTU honored Eric Mtshali when he was still alive and will keep honoring him through the struggles to come. Because this is where the real spark and heritage of every militant lies in. In the struggle for a society without man-by-man exploitation.
Who can forget the moving moments we lived here in Durban, in the birthplace of Mtshali, during the 17th World Trade Union Congress in October 2016, when comrade Eric was still among us and raised with pride the WFTU flag, inaugurating this way the works of our Congress: a consequent fighter of the WFTU from the beginning till the end.
The WFTU, as a humble tribute to its great fighter, would like to announce from this podium today, the creation of the Eric Stalin Mtshali Trade Union Prize. It is going to be a prize awarded in memory of Mtshali, in order to inspire the old militants and to teach the younger ones.
We, as the “sowing” of his action, we will continue his legacy which is also a legacy of every member of our family. So we shout loud with you today:
Hamba Kahle Comrade Stalin Mtshali!