Vavi wants bhuti-bhuti with ANC to stop

2013-02-08 00:00

ALL is not well in the leadership of the Congress of South African Trade Unions.

This became clear yesterday when Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi fired a broadside at his fellow worker leaders.

He took aim at leaders who are close to president Jacob Zuma and have been elected to the national executive committee (NEC) of the ANC, including Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini.

Vavi spoke at the Chris Hani Institute in Cosatu House yesterday, in the debate about the so-called “Lula Moment” in Brazil. This refers to the second term of former Brazilian president Lula da Silva, which was characterised by economic growth and social spending that saw a narrowing of the inequality gap in the South American country. At the Cosatu congress this was dubbed the “Zuma moment” by ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, referring to president Jacob Zuma’s second term as ANC president.

But Vavi made it clear he was unhappy that his fellow workers were not being critical of the ANC. “Are we still united around the principle or are we going to be in a bhuti-bhuti relationship [with the ANC]?” Vavi asked the audience. “There will be no Zuma moment with a fractured movement. It will just become nice rhetoric for conferences.”

Dlamini and other worker leaders have been elected to the NEC, which decided last week to approve the youth wage subsidy and to take away teachers’ right to strike. Both are decisions that raised Cosatu’s ire, but Dlamini was quoted as saying the youth wage subsidy may be a “small element” of the ANC’s raft of new youth employment plans.

Vavi said Cosatu’s independence was its mainstay, and suggested that this was under threat.

“Cosatu allies must allow Cosatu to be independent, not try to use remote controls to control a particular agenda,” he said.

The recent reports on Eskom spending millions on sponsoring business breakfasts run by the company owned by the Gupta family — close friends of the president — irked Vavi immensely.

He criticised lavish spending by Public Works on ministerial residences and the “private residence of the president at Nkandla” and said he was unsure about the ANC’s elective conference.

“Do the fellows in Mangaung represent what society thinks? I’m not so sure.”

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