Cosatu goes to war

2010-09-12 09:23

Cosatu has delivered a damning ­assessment of President Jacob Zuma and his ANC leadership ahead of next week’s midterm conference of the ­ruling party, saying the ANC leadership is afraid of being unseated in 2012.

Cosatu, which is due to meet with the ANC tomorrow to discuss tensions in the tripartite alliance, says that Zuma’s leadership has been paralysed by a “predatory elite” that has “subjected” it to “beating” and “blackmail tactics”.

In its 46-page political discussion paper – The Alliance at the Crossroads: The Battle Against a Predatory Elite and Political Paralysis – released this week, Cosatu argues that the threat to remove Zuma and ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe from their ­positions has closed avenues of engagement between the allies and made the ANC leadership indecisive.

“This has put the leadership in an invidious position, making them vulnerable, and overall led to them losing ­confidence, resulting in indecision on many critical questions.

“The ANC leadership is afraid of ­losing ­positions in 2012 and therefore does not want to alienate any powerful group.

So, as a result of internal ANC dynamics, the alliance is now in limbo,” the document says.

Cosatu is also unhappy that the ­power broadly enjoyed by the ANC membership ­after the 2007 Polokwane elective conference seems to have shifted back to various power brokers in the party and government.

“The expectation post-Polokwane was that the ANC would return policy formulation to its members.

But there has been little progress in that direction. Policy continues to be driven by technocrats and dominated by those in government.

“At the level of governance, the call was for the ANC, together with the ­alliance, to reassert leadership of all processes of governance. But where does the power lie today? Luthuli House? Presidency? Treasury? The executive? Parliament? Alliance?

“The reality again is that the ANC is not on top of processes in government, and policy decisions continue to be made in an non-transparent way, without the meaningful participation of the ANC or the alliance,” says the Cosatu document.

Cosatu is equally scathing of the SA Communist Party (SACP), whose leader, Blade Nzimande, is a minister in Zuma’s cabinet, saying it is “unable to play its proper role”.

It said the SACP was at risk of becoming invisible because its key leaders – Nzimande and Mantashe – held full-time posts in the government and the ANC respectively.

“The SACP’s cautious approach has in some cases been seen as a move towards conservatism and defensiveness.

Its initial approach to the nationalisation debate has emboldened demagogues in the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) to use radical populist rhetoric to disguise a right-wing agenda of accumulation and anti-working class politics.”

The federation says Zuma and ­Mantashe failed to protect Limpopo ANCYL leader Lehlogonolo Masoga when he was victimised for “not endorsing problematic positions such as the premature opening of the succession debate” despite the national executive committee ordering them to stop.

The 2012 succession battle, Cosatu says, has hamstrung Mantashe and deepens confusion in the ANC.

Yesterday SACP spokesperson Malesela Maleka said he had “great ­difficulty in commenting on a leaked document that is intended to reverse the work we are doing with Cosatu”.

“We are continuing our bilaterals with Cosatu,” he said.

In an interview with City Press last week, Fikile Mbalula, the ANC head of campaigns and the man touted as Mantashe’s replacement, disagreed with Cosatu that the alliance was about to implode.

“There are turbulences.

The question in those turbulences is to examine whether they are ideological to an ­extent that you can arrive at a determination that the alliance is in danger.”

“Why would the progressive left within the labour movement erupt and question the leadership role of the ANC?

“Or is it just a simple question of a pact for an election that is born of liberal democracies where political parties sign pacts committing each other on manifestos?

“Ours has been different in that the leadership role of the ANC has been acceptable. Why would we want to tie it into a pact?” he asked.

Mbalula was, however, scathing about the SACP.

“I’ve never heard what the SACP says except the 1996 class project and mid-term vision.

“To me it is as though the Communist Party is taking a back seat and the role they are supposed to play is taken up by Cosatu,” he said.

Mbalula denied that the alliance was in its death throes whenever it ­disagreed.

He was noncommittal on whether or not he would be available to stand for election as the ANC’s ­secretary-general in 2012.

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