Vavi returns to warn against individualism

2014-04-10 12:57

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Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has used his first public speaking opportunity after yesterday’s “ceasefire” in the labour federation to warn about a culture of making an individual more important than an organisation.

Vavi spoke this morning at an elections debate organised by the Daily Maverick online newspaper during a gathering of businesspeople, politicians and media practitioners.

Hinting that the reason for his suspension was that he spoke out against abuses by leaders like President Jacob Zuma, Vavi said: “We must never be threatened into silence when we see the triumph of individualism and selfishness in our organisation. It is time to reinstate the centrality of the organisation and not the centrality of individuals,” he said.

Vavi added that it was becoming increasingly common for people to scream from the rooftops if someone was caught with their hand in the cookie jar but then put their heads in the sand if their friends were accused of wrongdoing.

He did not explain what he was referring to.

When asked how he could campaign for the ANC in the elections despite criticism against its leader, Vavi said issues like these were part of the internal discussions in Cosatu over the next few days.

He hinted that the divisions within Cosatu were because of differences of opinion about leadership.

At the beginning of his speech, Vavi joked that he was invited as an individual, but after yesterday’s truce, “even if only for an hour”, he spoke for Cosatu again. He started his speech by paying tribute to SACP leader Chris Hani, who was assassinated on this day 21 years ago.

Earlier in the debate, DA leader Helen Zille said Zuma embodied what was wrong with the “closed crony” society and the dispensing of patronage.

But ANC elections organiser and Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba retorted that the DA’s campaign against Zuma was giving voters “nothing more than another African to fear”.

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