‘Don’t exchange Vavi for splitting the federation’ – Gwede Mantashe

2013-11-28 08:09

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ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has warned the Cosatu leadership against causing a split in the federation by “dealing with” Zwelinzima Vavi.

Mantashe told a meeting of the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union that Cosatu should be vigilant about the “international interest” in a weaker Cosatu, which he said was part of a global agenda to weaken liberation movements as they are perceived to be too strong.

“You can pursue Vavi, but if the price you pay to pursue Vavi is to split Cosatu, (it) is not worth the price. Try something else. Don’t exchange Vavi for splitting the federation.

“Do anything and everything else, but splitting the federation that was built so hard is not worth the price of fighting battles and nokubetha umntu (dealing with an individual). It doesn’t work in real life,” he said.

Turning to the crisis in Numsa, Mantashe said the re-emergence of old debates about the need to form a workers’ party reflected a shift “in the balance of forces” in Cosatu, saying those who wanted a split in the tripartite alliance were trying to split the federation.

On Tuesday, Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim denied the union was planning to pull out of Cosatu, but said it would use its indaba in Boksburg next month to assess what the ANC had delivered to workers during this term.

The union is expected to release discussion documents today explaining the options available to members.

Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini took a tougher line, calling on those who have “the desire to leave Cosatu” to walk away rather than waste time inside the federation.

“This thing of eating your cake and still (having) it does not work. This is what happens when people want to split unions or Cosatu: you yourself will be divided. There is no way workers are like water, that you pour and they flow in the same direction. People are not water. So you have to be careful,” he said.

In an oblique reference to Numsa, Dlamini said those who think they can cause a split by walking out, should be careful as workers might opt to remain.

He said those who suggested that the federation’s leadership needed to be overhauled were not telling the truth.

“Cosatu is under attack … by forces from outside and forces from within whose aims are to liquidate Cosatu. If they succeed to liquidate Cosatu they can then be happy and go elsewhere they want to go. If they do not succeed to go where they want to go, they want to take Cosatu in the direction they want to go,” he said.

He said the unions that wanted a special congress of Cosatu, did not want to wait for the planned 2015 congress to raise their grievances, and suggested that they wanted to use the special congress to change Cosatu leaders.

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