Cosatu: more questions than answers

2011-06-30 22:37

Johannesburg - Cosatu's central committee meeting closed on Thursday, with no resolutions emerging on key political and economic issues.

Cosatu did not take decisions on whether or not the to open talks on the ANC's election of new leadership next year, or on the call for nationalisation or land reform, which featured on its agenda for discussion.

The trade union federation deferred the talks to a leadership meeting in August after the central committee ran out of time and documents emerging from group discussions on the economy and politics were poorly written, said general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.

"The content and style... that's why it wasn't discussed, it was going to take us in 20 different directions," he told reporters at a media briefing after the delegates were sent home.

Vavi was referring to the political document, the draft of which included nationalisation, the succession debate, and the emergence of what Cosatu termed a "new tendency" - where people used political connections for their own accumulation interests", adopting an "it's our turn to eat" stance.

"If we had time.. there would have been a discussion of all manner of things," he said, adding that this included the issue of "demagogues" in the movement.

The draft document read: "They rely on populist demagoguery politics to allow them enough political space and power to push for their accumulation agenda."


Cosatu earlier said this referred to some within the ANC Youth League.

"They seize and use popular working class issues to stir emotions of unsuspecting and disgruntled sections of the working class in society when their actual agenda is to secure power and use such power against the very working class."

The resolution suggested this group was backed by "well-resourced and powerful business and politicians".

That it did not spell out how these developments should be dealt with was part of the reason Vavi suggested that decisions on it be taken later.

Many delegates had also left before the end of the committee meeting, with the hall only half full on Thursday.

On the socio-economic resolutions, he said the committee had only 15 minutes to deal with a matter of such importance.

Vavi said the fact that there were no resolutions on the difficult and contested issued did not mean that there were divisions within the movement.

"Does that represent destructive debate or divisions?... no," he said.

Cosatu was an organisation with a culture of debate.


Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini was also emphatic on the unity of the organisation.

"This is unity of leadership," he said, with Cosatu's top leaders sitting alongside him. "I'm saying that to dispel any myth of divisions."

While Cosatu has raised the flag over the "new tendency" and "demagogues" within the youth league, its stance on nationalisation and land reform are similar to the league's.

It supports nationalisation as described in the Freedom Charter.

The federation's discussion documents on the matter also spell out the need for nationalisation of the SA Reserve Bank, and the transport and construction sectors.

Like the league, it supports expropriating private land and wants section 25 of the Constitution, the property clause, scrapped. Section 25 allows for government's acquisition of land for redistribution, with compensation.

Cosatu's central executive committee would meet in August to thrash out the unresolved issues.


The federation also warned the ANC-led government to "stop dithering" and pull up its socks.

"The central committee did not engage in potentially divisive ANC leadership debate but did issue a stark warning to the government that if they are to retain popular support they must stop dithering and zigzagging, pull their socks up and start implementing policies of the Polokwane conference and the 2009 elections [manifesto]," said Vavi.

Government had to ensure that it delivered on jobs, addressing inequality and tackling corruption as this was the yardstick which would be used to measure at election time in 2014.

If the government failed to deliver, it would be at "massive cost", said Vavi.

Read more on:    cosatu  |  anc  |  ancyl  |  zwelinzima vavi  |  land  |  service delivery  |  politics  |  nationalisation

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