Jay Naidoo puts politics behind him

2010-08-09 00:00

COSATU’S first secretary-general, Jay Naidoo, who went on to become a cabinet minister in President Nelson Mandela’s government, is back to being a volunteer.

At the launch of his book Fighting for Justice at the Chatsworth Youth Centre on Saturday, Naidoo said he is out of business completely. He has ­also stepped down as chairperson of the Development Bank of South Africa and he has no interest in going back to politics.

His work at present is as chairperson of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition. He said his future, like the title of the book, is to continue fighting for justice.

Naidoo said he realised that a lot more needs to be done in South Africa after he took part of a think tank that asked the question, “Why do states fail?”.

He said South Africa did not go down the path of violence because the cement that held its people together was that the struggle was about justice. “Our aim then was to build a just society.”

Naidoo said the think tank found that a key factor leading to states failing is that they are not dealing with the next generation.

“Why do you think communities burn down schools? It is when anger reaches such heights where people feel they have no voice, no one is listening.”

He said a large part of the problem is a predatory elite, which is a new cancer not only in South Africa but globally. “They destroy our capacity as a country and focus on narrow interests — their own — instead of the needs of wider society.”

He said South Africa is now at the stage where there is a need to fight for social justice and take care of the next generation. Social justice demands accountability from leaders, he added, recalling how he had fired an employee for stealing a T-shirt when he was in Cosatu.

When a cheque was stolen, Coastu leader Cyril Ramaphosa marched the entire staff at head office to the bank so that the teller could identify the person.

“There has to be a consequence when you do wrong. Similarly there have to be ways to deal with corruption. When their is violence and disorder the only people who benefit are the opportunists,” Naidoo said.

The book launch was organised by the Chatsworth Youth Centre and Umlazi History Forum. It featured a discussion with Greenpeace CEO ­Kumi Naidoo who related anecdotes on the early days of Cosatu. The Greenpeace leader is on a two-week holiday in his home city, Durban.

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