Cosatu to push for planning commission overhaul

2009-09-24 11:53

COSATU will push for a complete overhaul of the content and

alignment of the national planning commission (NPC), its 10th national congress

has resolved.

The issue of Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel’s green paper

remains on the agenda at the union federation’s policy-making gathering in

Midrand, north of Johannesburg. The congress was peppered with robust and, at

times, heated debate on Thursday.

The congress resolved to “vigorously engage the tripartite alliance

on the green paper”.

It would call for the “complete overhaul” of its content and for

its alignment with the perspective on the NPC that was developed at the ANC’s

52nd national conference in Polokwane in 2007 and the Alliance Economic Summit

in October last year.

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said the green paper

represented “a massive turf battle in cabinet”.

He said this had sidelined certain ministers and, referring to

Manuel, had positioned others at the centre of processes.

Cosatu felt the green paper usurped the powers of former trade

unionist, now Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel.

The NPC was the result of engagement between the ANC, Cosatu, the

SA Communist Party (SACP) and the SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco), Cosatu


However, it complained that these bodies were not consulted on the

green paper before it was released for public scrutiny.

The green paper, published by Manuel on September 6, proposed the

creation of an NPC consisting of members of the South African public.

It also proposed that the minister for planning “be the link

between the government and the commission”.

Cosatu would participate in the consultative forums on the green

paper, including the National Economic Development and Labour Council and public

hearings in Parliament.

Amid criticism of Manuel, some delegates cautioned against

personalising reservations about the NPC.

SA Democratic Teachers’ Union president Thobile Ntola urged against

attacking an individual.

“We want to de-personalise the resolution,” he said.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe warned against focusing

criticism on Manuel. “To resolve on an individual is always a dangerous act for

an organisation,” he said.

Cosatu was firmly against public representatives with business


“We continue to insist that public representatives must choose

between being public representatives and live within their salaries, or must

choose business. You can’t be both,” Vavi said.

“A public representative cannot be a business person at the same

time,” he said.

In the ensuing debate, the Cosatu-affiliated SA Municipal Workers’

Union (Samwu) called for corruption to be “declared a crime against


Citing as an example North West, where many public servants have

recently been suspended, Samwu said corruption perpetuated poverty, irrespective

if whether it took place in the public or private sector.

It was therefore necessary to deal harshly with those found guilty

of corruption.

The third day of the conference began with a presentation by Sanco

deputy president Lemias Mashile.

“It is disturbing to find the phrase ‘tripartite alliance’... its

meaning is often the SACP and the ANC,” said Mashile.

“We as Sanco do not accept a junior partner status,” he said.

“We have been too tolerant of the government not engaging or

engaging very little.”

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