Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa believes the unions have the key task of uniting the tripartite alliance and the ANC -- this so that "the revolution" is not lost to opposition parties.
Ramaphosa spoke at a South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) gala dinner in Durban last night, where he was hailed by the crowd of about 200 union leaders.
After praising the union for their accomplishments, one of them being the management of about 70% of the country's teaching workforce, Ramaphosa said the ANC's revolution must be safeguarded.
"We expect that SADTU, as part of this revolutionary alliance, is going to make sure that we return the African National Congress to its founding values of service and selflessness...We dare not rest until the democratic changes contained in the Freedom Charter are won," Ramaphosa said.
"We dare not rest until we have liberated all South Africans from political, social as well as economic bondage. We must build the alliance as an effective instrument of workers' struggles."
Ramaphosa was clearly well-received, with union members introducing the presidential hopeful as a "leader".
In his keynote address, Ramaphosa was steadfast in encouraging the unity within the tripartite alliance.
"We must continue to build COSATU as the spear and the ANC as the shield and SADTU as the foot soldiers that are going to make sure that our revolution is going to succeed...We must remain determined that we will not compromise the revolution," Ramaphosa said.
"We all know, and some may want to deny it, but we are indeed going through very, very challenging times and some may want to hide their heads in the sand but many of us know that we are going through challenging times."
"It does not mean we must cower and run for cover. We cannot give up this struggle of rebuilding the ANC. To give up this struggle means we are giving up on our revolution. We cannot surrender our revolution to the Democratic Alliance. We cannot surrender our revolution to the small parties that we have. The ANC must be strengthened, the tripartite alliance must be strengthened."
As with many of his recent public appearances, Ramaphosa spoke lengthily on Radical Economic Transformation -- a concept which seemingly, he may build a large part of his campaign around.
"Radical Economic Transformation is an absolutely necessary process that we have got to embark on. This Radical Economic Transformation includes changing the structure of our economy, changing the ownership patterns in our economy and changing the management of how our economy is managed and controlled," Ramaphosa said.
"It also includes making sure the ordinary people in our country benefit...It does not mean that Radical Economic Transformation is there just to benefit a few selected people and selected families."