Zuma wants unionists in top ANC positions

2012-02-23 11:47

President Jacob Zuma has encouraged unionists not to stay away from top ANC leadership positions, saying they stood a better chance of influencing policy from inside the party.

Addressing the National Union of Metalworkers of SA’s political commission in Johannesburg today, Zuma said unionists have to be around when critical policy decisions are taken.

“Workers participated in making the ANC a progressive organisation. The ANC has a long history of working closely with the trade union movement in the struggle against apartheid and the exploitation of the workers,” he said.

He mentioned leaders like Moses Kotane, John Nkadimeng and Moses Mabhida as examples of leaders who led both the ANC and the labour movement.

“You can’t say (just) because I am a leader of a union, “here is my place, and the ANC will see itself through”. Nor can you say the (SA Communist) party must see itself through

“To me politics in South Africa is a matter of life and death. The fact that the majority of the leaders are not members of the (ANC) national executive committee (NEC) is a short-coming.

“How do you influence progressive national politics in South Africa if you are not at the centre where progressive decision are taken?” he said.

His remarks could be interpreted as a veiled attack on Cosatu who want to remain outside ANC leadership structures.

Labour federation Cosatu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi declined to take a position in the ANC national executive committee in Polokwane in 2007. At the time, Vavi said it was necessary for him to decline nomination to keep the trade union federation independent.

Zuma’s remarks could also be seen as an attempt to charm the divided labour federation ahead of the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung at the end of the year.

Zuma said debating policy issues would not help workers if they remained on the margins.

Vavi is expected to address the Numsa indaba this afternoon.

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