No blank cheque for ANC – Vavi

2013-09-17 16:12

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Suspended labour federation Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi says workers should not give the ANC a blank cheque as it goes to next year’s elections.

He told the political school of the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) in Benoni that there was a need to debate the state of affairs in the Tripartite Alliance as they could not go to the elections “waffling” about the issues that were on the table when they went to the 2009 elections – including a ban on labour brokers, the creation of decent work and rural development.

“You don’t want to go into the elections campaign uwawushe (waffling) … The best we should aim at in my view is to find an agreement based on the 11th (Cosatu) congress (resolutions),” he said.

He said people should not chase Cosatu out for being liars when it goes to campaign because it did not deliver on what its promised.

“Cosatu must always be seen … as that organisation that has spoken (out), even at difficult moments when others did want to speak. Once you kill that organisation, all of us will be chased out by the people,” he said.

He said support for the ANC did not mean being uncritical of policies, saying social democratic parties lost support in Europe after the financial crisis because their policies resembled the “neoliberal” policies of conservative parties. He said this confused voters as they did not notice any difference between parties, adding that he did not want to see that happen in South Africa.

Vavi also threw his weight behind calls for a special Cosatu congress, which he said was the only thing that would take the federation out of its current crisis.

Later, Numsa head of education, Dinga Sikwebu, told Vavi that the unions who want a special Cosatu congress had made the threshold of seven unions. He said he hoped the meeting of the federation’s central executive committee would heed their call.

The special congress is seen as the only thing that could save Vavi from his enemies.

Numsa has backed Vavi through thick and thin, even though he has been suspended for bringing Cosatu into disrepute for having sex at work with a junior employee.

The terms of Vavi’s suspension bar him from speaking on Cosatu platforms, but he tried to get around this by saying he was speaking as a comrade and friend of the late Numsa leader Mbuyiselo Ngwenda, after whom the union’s political school is named.

Meanwhile, the ANC’s national working committee has set up a task team to help Cosatu through its problems. Members of the team include party deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, national chairperson Baleka Mbete and treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize.

A statement issued by Mantashe this afternoon said the team would arrange an “urgent meeting” with the leadership of Cosatu.

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