Zuma: Alliance forged on people’s blood

2010-12-05 09:17

President Jacob Zuma stole the show at the 25th anniversary rally of Cosatu at the ­Johannesburg Stadium yesterday as he preached unity in the troubled tripartite alliance and mesmerised the crowd by belting out a spirited performance of his signature tune, Umshini Wami.

Zuma used his address to remind the crowd that the ruling party had played a critical role in the formation of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) in 1985.

He said unity was of paramount importance because the African National Congress (ANC) and Cosatu needed each other.

“This is no paper alliance. It is an alliance forged on the blood of our people. We will always be together at all material times.”

The tripartite alliance finds itself in a troubled state.

Cosatu came under fire from ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe for organising a civil society conference last month without inviting the ruling party.

Mantashe went as far as saying Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi was positioning Cosatu as an alternative to the ANC. But Vavi hit back, saying the ruling party was being paranoid.

Vavi was also at loggerheads with South African Communist Party (SACP) boss Blade Nzimande, whom he said must quit as higher education minister and focus on his duty as the SACP general secretary.

Vavi was also at odds with the ANC Youth League for repeatedly charging that South Africa was being led into being a “predator state” by what he called “political hyenas”.

Although tripartite alliance leaders put on a united front yesterday there were continued tensions. Vavi recently said the alliance was “dysfunctional”.

Some had hinted at the possibility of the disintegration of the alliance.

But Zuma poured scorn on “doomsayers”. The alliance would be in place for decades to come, he said.

Zuma proved to be the crowd favourite ­before he even arrived at the stadium.

While waiting for his arrival, the crowd in a sea of red sang his praises in song.

When he eventually arrived with Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini, Vavi and Nzimande, the crowd erupted into cheers and Umshini Wami.

He reciprocated by going around the stadium, circled by his entourage of bodyguards, and waved at the crowd. Every time his face appeared on the big screens in the stadium the crowd went ballistic.

When he took to the stage the crowd rose to its feet and started singing Umshini ­Wami.

But Zuma only belted out his tune, in style, after his speech.

He was joined on stage by musician Solly Moholo and his band and everyone in the stadium was on their feet singing along.

Zuma got so deep into the spirit of song and dance that he told one of his bodyguards, who was holding an umbrella to protect him from the scorching African sun, to move away so he had have more space to dance in.

When he left the stage it was to the sounds of the ANC’s latest anthem, Solomon.

Zuma said even though differences might exist in the alliance it was still held together by “critical” issues.

“The ANC is the political home of the workers.

In our action and conduct we must always conduct ourselves in a manner that does not erode the alliance’s unity,” he added.

Earlier, Vavi said Cosatu needed the support of the ruling party and the SACP in its efforts to improve wages for workers.

Vavi, who was seated next to Nzimande, said though workers were creators of wealth, they continued to be exploited and paid inadequate salaries.

Speaking on the sidelines of the trade federation’s 25th anniversary, Cosatu members told City Press that Cosatu and the ANC would stay together.

“Cosatu works for us.

Cosatu is what it is because of the ANC and the ANC is what it is because of the ANC.

“Vavi is a good leader. We are fully ­behind him,” said Zanele Lemoen from Bloemfontein.


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