Delegates back Nzimande, mixed on Zuma

2009-09-22 12:31

Delegates at Cosatu’s 10th conference had mixed reactions to the

alliance leaders at the start of the second day of proceedings today.

Some expressed support for SA Communist Party general secretary and

Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande who, along with other ministers who

spent more than R1 million of public funds on official cars, had earlier drawn

criticism from the federation.

Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven called the expenditures on

luxury cars a “slap in the face of the unemployed and people living in shanty


Nzimande yesterday told the delegates: “I know very well that

socialism will not come in a BMW. I have not forgotten that.”

“We agree that it was a mistake to accept the million rand car,”

said SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union delegate and SACP member Tinzi

Lubabalo. “It can send the wrong signal to the poor about the person who is

advancing their interests.”

National Union of Metalworkers of SA delegate Fana Dlamini said he

believed Nzimande was trying to walk a fine line between his position as leader

of the SACP and as a member of government.

“He’s now a minister in government and some policies might

contradict communism. As a minister and [general secretary of the SACP] he has

to manage those contradictions,” said Dlamini, who was more qualified in his

support of President Jacob Zuma.

Yesterday, Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi said delegates

were not as enthusiastic about Zuma’s as they were at a previous conference in


“In 2006, when he was not the state president he was a different

Zuma,” said Dlamini. “I was expecting him to say a lot on the soldiers’ wages

and their working conditions.”

Dlamini believed Zuma’s new position as president required him to

be more cautious.

However, Lubabalo believed delegates were still as excited about

Zuma as they were back then. “It was the same, except that people didn’t stand

on the tables,” he said.

“He gave a well-prepared speech. It covered the values of the


National Health, Education and Allied Workers’ Union delegate

Christine Mokonyane said she believed Zuma acted correctly in reaching out to

political organisations beyond the left. “The way he appointed people, he looked

at the nation. He surprised people.

“I think if they can work together they can accomplish something,”

said Mokonyane.

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