Zille using the unemployed – Vavi

2012-07-18 15:21

DA leader Helen Zille uses the unemployment and job creation agenda to score political points, Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has said.

“She (Zille) is presenting herself as the new champion of the most marginalised in society, particularly the unemployed,” Vavi told a worker conference in Centurion.

“She is trying to endear herself to this marginalised South African population that is beginning to lose hope because we don’t have a solution.”

He accused Zille of pretence, saying she championed the cause of the unemployed for the sake of accolades and votes in the next election.

“In her small mind, she believes that the ANC is done and is finished without Cosatu. She is discrediting Cosatu to remove the stumbling block to her attaining power in 2014,” said Vavi.

He cautioned that the tripartite alliance could only underestimate the political threat posed by the DA at its peril in future elections.

“Already, five percent of the blacks in townships are voting for the DA. It’s not a small matter. It’s time to say to all of us – ‘vuka ma ulele’ (wake up),” he said.

“Wake up and smell the coffee, don’t beat the messenger. We need to look at ourselves today against the image of Nelson Mandela. Only then will we understand the challenges we face,” he said.

Vavi said his message was not only aimed at the ANC: “That message applies to the ANC, the SA Communist Party and Cosatu equally.

"Quite often we make the mistake of looking only to the bigger organisation, the ANC. We are not in a good space ourselves,” he said.

The conference was hosted by the SA Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers’ Union.

Earlier, Vavi paid tribute to former president Nelson Mandela, saying Madiba was a genuine leader who put his life in danger to serve, expecting nothing in return.

“In 67 years of his life in public service, in our common struggle to build a nonracial democracy in South Africa, he understood that he would be failing humankind if he did not sacrifice with his own life,” Vavi said.

“It is so important for us to speak about unity today, particularly at a time when we face a serious challenge of pretenders at all levels. Mandela is genuine, he never did things so that he would get some form of support.”

Vavi said Mandela was not only an icon in South Africa, but also in Africa and the world.

He led delegates at the conference in singing “Happy birthday Madiba”.

July 18 was declared Mandela Day by the UN General Assembly in November 2009.

The first president of the new South Africa celebrated turning 94 today.

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