Polokwane didn't deliver: Cosatu

By Drum Digital
18 September 2012

The ANC's Polokwane conference did not deliver on its promises of returning the party to the people, Cosatu said on Tuesday.

"In the aftermath of the post-Polokwane euphoria... It seemed that the challenges of the previous period had been overcome and that we were moving into a new area," the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) said in its political report.

"It soon became apparent that matters were not going according to plan. Operation ANC ibuyile [renewal] was supposed to return the ANC back to members and hold government to account, both in the organisation and in government."

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi was delivering the report on the second day of its 11th national congress in Midrand.

Cosatu said the "call" at the conference was for the African National Congress and the alliance to reassert its leadership .

"But where does the power lie today? [The ANC headquarters at] Luthuli house? The presidency? Treasury? The executive? Parliament? The alliance?" it asked.

"The ANC is not on top of processes in government, and policy decisions continue to be made in an untransparent (sic) way."

Cosatu said the alliance had faced "political paralysis" since the conference and it needed to be unblocked.

"If we don't act decisively, we are heading rapidly in the direction of a full-blown predator state, in which a powerful elite increasingly controls the state as a vehicle for accumulation."

It said delegates at the Polokwane conference had expressed views which Cosatu had always promoted.

"The Polokwane conference represented nothing short of a revolt by ANC delegates against practices, policies and leadership, which had deviated from the movement's historic policy perspectives... and collective decisions.

"The outgoing leadership... was regarded as individualistic and elitist... and having imposed inappropriate policies which failed to take into account the views of the people."

Cosatu said the ANC had committed a number of mistakes which had undermined the federation's ability to mobilise workers.

"On some occasions, the leadership have attacked the federation without provocation," Cosatu said.

"Something has gone wrong. The people we hate most today are not the enemy or white monopoly capital, but one another."

Vavi said Cosatu, the ANC and the SA Communist Party still had unity on "where the alliance should go" and needed to be applauded.

The alliance was characterised by "denialism" before the Polokwane conference.

"The cost of denialism is that in 10 years 330,000 people died from HIV and Aids," he said.

"The leader of the alliance at the time [Mbeki] said: 'What are you talking about? I haven't seen anyone dying from HIV'."

Mbeki was replaced by President Jacob Zuma as leader of the ANC at the Polokwane conference.

The ANC will hold its next national conference in Mangaung in December.

Vavi said if the ANC continued its current trajectory, it would face what Cosatu called the "low road scenario".

This meant delegates to the Mangaung conference would focus only on the leadership contest, and policy issues would be ignored.

"We avoided that fighting yesterday, [during the Cosatu] nominations. ANC secretary general [Gwede Mantashe] I hope that your movement will be inspired by us," said Vavi. The Cosatu leadership was nominated unopposed on Monday.

"We cannot spend our time in a battle with each other [in Mangaung] going 'wah, wah, wah'," he said rolling his hands and then holding up two fingers.

Vavi was mimicking the gestures used by alliance members to replace Zuma with Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, or to call for a second term for Zuma.

"We are calling for unity. If the ANC collapses, the people who will suffer the most are us."

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