Cosatu backs Gwede

2009-09-08 07:29

TRADE unions will defend ANC ­secretary-general Gwede Mantashe

against a group in the party that wants to replace him with Deputy Minister of

Police Fikile Mbalula at the ANC’s next elections.

The elective congress of ­labour federation Cosatu, to be held in

two weeks’ time in Johannesburg, will endorse the retention of the current

leadership of the ANC when its term of office ends in 2012.

Effectively, this is not only a call for a second term for

President Jacob Zuma but one which would forestall any changes to the party’s

top ­leadership.

That would mean support for Mantashe, a former trade unionist. The

challenge from the group that wants him replaced by Mbalula was reported in

local newspapers this week.

There is talk in the ANC that the youth league wants to end the

tradition of generational succession, which has resulted in a top leadership who

are all in their late fifties or sixties. This would result in ANC members

taking power at a younger age.

Mbalula (38) is a former youth league leader. Taking over from

Mantashe would make him one of the youngest people ever to hold such a high

position in the ANC.

But Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini said it was too early to start a

debate on succession in both the ANC and government.

He alleged that there were “opportunistic” people who wanted to

start the debate in a bid to sway the direction of the government, the ruling

party and the tripartite alliance.

“Instead, we should go to ­Mpumalanga to the people who are

protesting about service delivery and listen to their demands. Or go to the

soldiers and understand why they marched. Those are genuine ­issues,” Dlamini

said.

He said there was no question about whether Zuma would serve one or

two terms. The Constitution of the country allowed him a maximum of two terms in

office, while the ANC constitution put no limit on the number of terms he could

serve as party leader.

However, Dlamini said Cosatu had not discussed the speculation on

Mantashe’s future as ANC ­secretary-general. “We have not heard anybody

declaring publicly that he or she wants to be the secretary-general of the ANC.”

National Health and Allied Workers Union general secretary Fikile

Majola claimed the debate around Mantashe’s position was started by people who

were not comfortable with a leader of the SA Communist Party running the ANC.

“We knew at some point they would come for him. We will defend him

and the collective as a whole to ensure there is stability and continuity,” he

said.

Majola said the ANC could ill-afford bruising battles when it went

to its 2012 conference, and said it would take more than one term for the

current leadership to fulfil its mandate.

ANC Youth League president ­Julius Malema said the youth league

supported Mantashe and wanted him to succeed. But he ­appeared to be at odds

with Cosatu on what would happen in 2012.

“The conference of the ANC gives only one term and that term

expires in 2012. Around (the time of the) 2012 conference there will be

discussions on leadership whether someone likes it or not.”

Malema disagreed with Majola’s view that the current leadership

should automatically serve two terms.

“We support ANC comrade Gwede Mantashe. We will always stand by him

because we don’t want a discussion that is going to weaken the organisation. I

will debate that issue as and when we come closer to 2012,” Malema said.

 

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