Power-hungry personalities will be the end of Cosatu, says Gwede Mantashe

2013-08-21 14:58

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ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe says personality cults in union federation Cosatu are going to kill the labour federation.

He said unions should reconsider conferring too much power on their general secretaries, and give those powers to members instead.

Addressing Cosatu-affiliated police union Popcru’s political school in Benoni today, Mantashe said moving away from trade union principles and creating cults around individual leaders would destroy unions in the federation.

He was speaking at a time when Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has been suspended for bringing the federation into disrepute after he had sex with a junior Cosatu employee at work. There is a also a parallel “facilitation process” that is looking into the divisions in Cosatu.

“Others belong to Vavi and others to (Cosatu president) Sdumo (Dlamini). Then you are going to kill the federation because it was not meant to be like that,” he said.

He added it will also important to separate the duties of the president and the general secretary as outlined in the federation’s constitution to avoid personality cults.

He told City Press on the sidelines of the indaba that “worker control” was important in Cosatu to limit the influence the employed bureaucracy has in the federation, saying its decline impacts on the federation over time.

“It’s like me in the ANC, I know what to do. I am not the president of the ANC, and I don’t pretend to be one … It’s a conscious decision. You must be conscious about it first as the general secretary.

“That’s why there’s a term ‘cult of personality’ because when you get addicted (to) power you don’t see anything in front of you. You run over everything,” he said.

Mantashe also took a swipe at the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), which said it would meet in December and review its decision to support the ANC in the polls, saying deserting the ANC will make it a conservative organisation.

“If you look at the ANC, it is one of the six authentic liberation movements in Africa … You will move it to the right (of the political spectrum),” he said.

He also poured scorn on Numsa’s claim that the unionists who were elected on to the ANC’s national executive committee in Mangaung in December are spearheading attempts to reduce Cosatu into a “toothless” ANC labour desk.

Mantashe said labour would have more than 10 people in the ANC’s most influential leadership structure were it not for the divisions that plague it.

“Those leaders are leaders of the ANC in their own right. They should be in the NEC in their own right. They are not there as the Cosatu faction in the ANC … It is important for a working class formation to be united,” he said.

- City Press

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