Vavi ‘lost no sleep’ over ANC’s disciplinary threat

2010-06-27 10:55

Are you

relieved that the ANC’s mooted disciplinary action against you has been dropped?

You know,

for some reason I never stressed. I never had a sleepless night over the

matter. From the beginning I knew that it could not be a serious proposition. I

do welcome the fact that we are over it, but it is not something that bothered

me at all. My initial reaction was always that this was not a practical



Mbalula recently stressed that no ANC member is exempt from party discipline,

irrespective of where they are serving. The statement of the national working

committee says as much. What is your take on this, as it obviously leaves the

door open for future disciplinary action against any member if the party feels

offended by his or her comments?

No Cosatu

leader speaking on behalf of Cosatu will ever be subjected to a disciplinary hearing

by another organisation. We will never, ever allow that. If that were to

happen, then we (Cosatu) must fold and close shop. There would be no Cosatu as

we know it today – the independent organisation answerable only to its members.

This is a

sign of creeping intolerance of divergent views. Are you not worried about

this emerging trend?

I am

worried. The implication of the fact that they can’t implement such a decision

– not now and not in the future – that one is serious. The second one is that

unfortunately, through how it has managed this whole debacle, they have sent

out a message that says we are a little bit intolerant. It is unfortunately

sending a message that the ANC is eager to close the space we thought had

opened so widely post-Polokwane, which is absolutely unfortunate. Thirdly, it

unwittingly sends out a message that says those who speak out against

corruption are alien, when it should say those who bring the organisation into

disrepute are the ones who are alien to the ¬culture of the organisation.

I assume

that the ANC is not united in this, but most leaders feel you have crossed the


You must

be careful about this, by the way – this is the NWC (national working

committee), which has no constitutional status. I doubt if the NEC (national

executive committee) would have come to the same conclusion, that what the

Cosatu central executive committee said is alien. We are shocked by that type

of statement. The sin is to say the integrity of the ANC must be protected .?.?. and for asking that, we must be


You say

the decision to charge you would have been impractical. How?

It means I

would not have subjected myself to discipline by one organisation for saying

things I was mandated by another organisation to say.

That is

the impracticality of the ¬decision – I can’t and no one in Cosatu will do

that. The fact that the ANC is the leader of the alliance does not give it the

right to discipline anybody ¬outside its structures on matters the individual

was speaking on on behalf of constitutional structures that elected him.

Are you

still optimistic, though, about the future of the alliance – given that these

developments challenge its unity and viability?

There is

nothing wrong with the alliance if you look at policies coming from the

structures of the organisation. I have not seen any conference saying the

things that we hear from the NWC – that it is alien to say that serious

allegations of corruption must be investigated.

Do you not

think that you are the author of your own troubles, in that last year you said

you would be available to serve in the leadership of the ANC at the end of your

current term?

I don’t

know, but I guess so. To some people that may be a source of discomfort or even

fear, or downright political jealousy. I have been general secretary for 11

years. In my book, I have done a good job.

Has the

ANC formally requested a meeting with Cosatu over your comments on corruption?


vaguely said they would like to have a meeting to discuss some issues that

arose out of this debacle. We said we are prepared to have a discussion.

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