Cosatu and SACP in desperate bid to mend relations

2011-06-25 20:22

Cosatu and the SA Communist Party (SACP) are desperately trying to mend their sour relations because of the increasing pressure the two allies are getting from ANC Youth League (ANCYL) leader Julius Malema.

Both SACP boss Blade Nzimande and Cosatu leader Zwelinzima Vavi set aside their differences and held what a Cosatu central executive committee member described as “frank and robust” discussions “where all sides stated their feelings” about the frosty relations between the two organisations.

The two organisations have clashed over the SACP’s decision to amend its constitution to allow Nzimande to hold a full-time position as higher education minister, which has drawn flak from Cosatu unions, which feel that it has hurt the effective functioning of the SACP.

Vanguard of the working class Malema recently attacked both Cosatu and the SACP for what he described as failure to lead the “working class” and said the ANC youth wing will take over the role of being “the vanguard of the working class”. The two organisations, he added, have been reduced into a lobbying group for positions within the Tripartite Alliance.

Nzimande is expected to hit back at Malema when he addresses Cosatu’s four-day central committee meeting, which is a midterm conference held to review the federation’s performance and starts tomorrow in Midrand.

In a report Vavi will table at the central committee meeting, the Cosatu general secretary is critical of the way Nzimande has handled debate on the nationalisation of mines that Malema initiated.

Nzimande has been critical of the mooted state takeover of mines, suggesting that it is a ploy to bail out beleaguered black mining tycoons.

War of words Vavi says the federation “felt the approach in particular in the highly publicised war of words with the leadership of the ANC Youth League emboldened the demagogues who attacked the SACP and sought to paint a picture of a compromised SACP”.

The report also reveals that the two organisations have not seen eye to eye on SABC chairperson Ben Ngubane and the former communications minister Siphiwe Nyanda’s intervention in the running of the public broadcaster.

The SACP also took sides with the ANC in the debate about the efficacy of President Jacob Zuma’s macroeconomic strategy, the New Growth Path.

The clash was compounded by Cosatu’s decision to convene a civil society conference last year, to which neither the SACP nor the ANC were invited.

“In the recent period, these organisational differences have been reduced into the persons of the general secretary of Cosatu and the SACP. This is a complete diversion. The difference are not personal but organisational (and) involve important principles.

“Both Cosatu and the SACP have the responsibility to act against the escalation of this perception,” Vavi says in the report.

State of the Tripartite Alliance Vavi will table the report behind closed doors – in a departure from the labour federation’s tradition of keeping its conference open to the media – so that Cosatu can present a frank assessment of the state of the Tripartite Alliance.

The meeting will also deliberate on what Cosatu describes as a “complicated relationship” between itself and the ANCYL.

Vavi says the two organisations agree on issues such as the proposed ban on labour brokers, the nationalisation of mines, and the rejection of the youth wage subsidy.

“The concern raised by many though is that in recent times the generation of ANCYL leaders appears to have been vulnerable to influence through patronage that has succeeded to corrupt some of its leaders.

“How should we respond to this phenomenon? In answering the question we must avoid two extremes. Firstly, we cannot afford to paint every ANCYL leader with the same brush and label them tenderpreneurs. This is not true. We cannot because we are concerned about the influence of those who may be genuine tenderpreneurs hellbent on hijacking the ANC to accumulate at the personal level then take a posture that all the ANCYL programmes must not be supported no matter the merits and the correctness of the programme they drive,” says Vavi in the report.

Where Malema and Vavi are likely to clash is on whether Zuma should keep his position in 2012 when the ANC holds its elective conference.

City Press understands that Cosatu wants Zuma to retain his position, but would give him support if he takes steps to fight corruption in the provinces.

The youth league wants to remove ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, and might even try to remove Zuma if it has adequate support to do so.

But the federation is clearly worried that Zuma could either be removed or weakened next year.

“The new class of tenderpreneurs, if they are not able to remove the president at the 2012 Mangaung conference, may try to retain him but surround him with a right-wing NEC to corrode his political support base, withdraw support on strategic issues and ultimately pull the carpet from under his feet,” the report says.

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