Zuma puts his foot down

2010-09-20 15:29

President Jacob Zuma reasserted his authority in the tripartite alliance and within the ANC.

Speaking at the ruling party’s national general council in Durban, Zuma warned against “tendencies” that posed a threat to the unity of alliance between the ANC, Cosatu and SA Communist Party.

He also reminded the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) that although it was an autonomous body within the ANC, it was still subject to the party’s discipline.

Zuma shot down Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi’s call for a written pact to govern the relationship among alliance members.

“There is ... a new tendency to redefine the alliance relationship as if it was based on some legal agreement or memorandum of understanding,” he said to loud applause from parts of the hall.

He dismissed predictions that the alliance was on the verge of collapse.

“It is a very important political entity no matter what the challenges are. It is important that we don’t play around with the alliance. It must not fall or be destroyed in our hands.

“Just because it is leaking does not mean that you have to raze down the whole house. You have to say, how do I patch the leaking hole,” Zuma said.

Cosatu and the ANC are due to meet after the NGC to iron out their differences over the nature of their alliance and the recent public service strike. Cosatu recently apologised to Zuma for insults that were hurled at him and his ministers by striking workers.

Turning to the Youth League, which has been agitating for autonomy, Zuma said the ANC was not in alliance with its leagues.

“We have noted some regrettable incidents, particularly relating to ANCYL conferences, which are unacceptable and need to be dealt with. The leadership will work with the ANC Youth League intensively after this NGC to deal with these organisational challenges and to strengthen it so that it can perform its role as the grooming school for future ANC leadership,” he said.

Zuma also indicated that the government could move away from its current economic growth path, saying Cabinet would hold an urgent meeting after the Durban ANC indaba to finalise the new economic growth path.

The country’s macro-economic policy has been the much-criticised Growth, Employment and Redistribution (Gear) strategy which was crafted in 1996.

Both Vavi and SACP deputy general secretary Jeremy Cronin welcomed Zuma’s comments on the economy.

However, Vavi said Cosatu would need “further engagement” on the issue of the pact.

Even though there is opposition to Zuma’s plan to bar politicians from holding senior municipal management positions, he was adamant that he was going ahead with the plan as the practise hindered service delivery.

“Moving forward to the 2011 elections, drawing from experience we should ensure that our deployment procedure enables us to produce more highly-committed, effective and disciplined cadres to help us improve service delivery in this sphere.

“To succeed in transforming local government, the ANC must become part of the lives and the experiences of our people. The fundamental principle is that we must remain truthful to our people at all times, even when we have not met their expectations,” Zuma said.

Zuma also touched on corruption, saying government could centralise major tenders and fines could be imposed on firms that obtain contracts illegally.

“... We must not allow tenders to destroy the ANC,” he said.

The ANC president was also critical of fixed “slates” at party conferences, which often resulted in two mutually exclusive blocs slugging it out for party positions. He said slates, smear tactics and the use of money to lobby votes corrupted internal democratic processes.

“We should not allow a situation where those who have money turn members of the ANC into commodities.

“We are also concerned about labelling and other divisive tendencies that are creeping in. For example, we have always said the ANC is a broad church but suddenly there are people who are said to be anti-communists and others who are anti-nationalists.”

Zuma also threatened to crack down on those who continue discussing succession ahead of the 2012 ANC elective conference.

“We must take a decision that those who engage in such activities are in fact undermining the organisation and its work. And at worst, undermining the unity of the organisation. Action must be taken against them,” he said.

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