Vavi draws flak for report

2012-09-19 00:00

BARELY a day after he was unanimously nominated for another term in office, Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi was criticised by unionists and alliance leaders for his political report to the labour federation’s congress.

Vavi, who presented his report to about 3 000 Cosatu delegates at the labour federation’s four-day conference in Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand yesterday morning, started by saying it was not his report: it had been written by Cosatu’s secretariat as a collective.

But that didn’t stop police union Popcru, mineworkers’ union NUM and municipal workers’ union Samwu from tearing into Vavi, while the ANC, the SA Communist Party and the ANC Youth League were unhappy about the way Cosatu portrayed its relationship with them in the report.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said Cosatu complained in its report that there was no trade union leader in the ANC’s national executive committee, but more than 10 cabinet ministers had been in Cosatu.

“Once they get a responsibility in government, the federation seems to disown them,” he said.

In his report, Vavi said the ANC needed to reflect society.

Mantashe said Vavi seemed to say that only trade unionists were the working class, but there was no such class as trade unionists.

He also complained that Cosatu was criticising the ANC as if it wasn’t part of the tripartite alliance. “It should articulate its position as being part of the movement.”

Mantashe said Cosatu was becoming part of the “deafening noise” wanting to weaken the ANC.

The SACP’s deputy general secretary, Solly Mapaila, said the report cast the relationship with his party in a negative light. “But if you take your documents, the cover of your documents, in the picture there is a march and you will see SACP banners there, SACP members participating in the march with Cosatu,” he said.

Cosatu’s report criticised the SACP for not being involved enough in its campaigns, such as the march against e-tolling and labour brokers.

The ANC Youth League’s Kenetswe Mosenogi tore into Cosatu for saying the youth were not properly represented and for not recognising the league’s economic freedom march last year.

NUM criticised the document as a “one-sided report that reflects that there is a perception that there are some leaders who do not want to upset the ANC”.

Popcru sought to deflect criticism from the SACP, saying Cosatu’s criticism against its allies should be more constructive.

However, NUM later called for unity and urged Cosatu members to unite behind the membership it had nominated on Monday. “At no stage must we treat our leaders as if we chose them in a shebeen,” the affiliate said.

Samwu said the ANC also belonged to members of Cosatu, and they should help shape ANC policy in the party’s branches instead of criticising from the outside. Vavi’s critique was inviting a coup, the union said.

Defending the report, Vavi said the political report had been circulated to affiliates, the SACP, ANC, youth league and civil society organisations two months earlier for inputs. “I am not angry, but I am sorry,” he said, adding that delegates still had the right to make submissions from the floor.

Vavi said in his report that Cosatu could take either the low road and get involved in ANC infighting, which would tear the governing movement apart, or the high road, which would mean focusing on programmes.

He said Cosatu would pronounce on who it would support at the ANC’s elective congress in Mangaung a bit later, but he did hint that Cosatu did not want to see a leadership contest.

Some interpreted this to mean that Cosatu would support retaining President Jacob Zuma, his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe and Mantashe in their positions.

Some within the labour federation dislike Vavi for his outspoken stance against the ANC, but delegates appeared to have come to a compromise to retain Vavi uncontested , like Cosatu president Sidumo Dlamini, who has a somewhat softer public stance towards the ANC.

complaints traded: ANC, SACP and unionists tear into Cosatu leader

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