Political hyenas in feeding frenzy - Vavi

Johannesburg - Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi pulled no punches when he launched a scathing attack against the country's  “corrupt political elite” on Thursday, saying they are turning the country into a “full-blown predator state”.

Vavi singled out the “scandalous” ArcelorMittal transaction in which family members and friends of President Jacob Zuma controversially received millions or rands worth of shares in the valuable Sishen mine.

“We're headed for a predator state where a powerful, corrupt and demagogic elite of political hyenas are increasingly using the state to get rich,” said Vavi.

Just like the “hyena and her daughters” eat first in nature, the “chief of state's family eats first” in this predator state.

“We have to intervene now to prevent South Africa from becoming a state where corruption is the norm and no business can be done with government without first paying a corrupt gatekeeper,” Vavi said at a media conference at Cosatu House in Johannesburg.

Cosatu's senior leaders were vocal in condemning an extravagant government and privileged ministers who preach to civil servants about limited funds.

Vavi slammed government about the expense of soccer tickets and warned that they are “underestimating” the workers' rage.

Workers are angry

Ministers who drive in luxury German cars and whose children attend private schools, should best remain silent.

“That green book (ministerial handbook) which gives ministers the right to stay in the Mount Nelson hotel – the workers know about this and they are angry.”

S'dumo Dlamini, Cosatu president, said the government, and not unions, should accept responsibility for sick babies and patients who die in state hospitals due to the strike.

Cosatu is determined that civil servants won't relent until government complies with the salary demands. In addition, unions affiliated to Cosatu will take part in a secondary strike next Wednesday in sympathy with the plight of civil servants.

Regarding the ANC alliance, Vavi said the honeymoon after the Polokwane conference is over. Cosatu is disappointed about unfulfilled promises regarding a new industrial policy and economic growth plan.

Rather than focus on dysfunctional schools and the “catastrophic” 1.1 million job losses since 2009, the governing party “concerns itself with leadership issues”.

The union does not understand the ANC's insistence about an independent media tribunal while there are pressing issues such as unemployment and poverty.

Can't support the corrupt

While Cosatu is not in favour of self regulation in the printed press, “we can't lend blind support to something which will give the corrupt a place to hide”, said Dlamini.

According to Vavi the ANC will first have to conduct research about the correct model for regulation.

"What does 'independent' mean? In the South African context it means Ben Ngubane (SABC board chair), and that scares us.”

Cosatu warns that fat cats are trying to take over the ANC and that this is paralysing service delivery. It's so bad that voters might find themselves supporting opposition parties in next year's municipal elections.

“It's going to be a challenge to convince some voters in poor communities to stay with the ANC,” according to their statement.

Cosatu also decided against supporting all ANC candidates without question in next year's election.

“We refuse to hold campaigns for a thief or incapable, lazy people who only make themselves available for their own benefit,” said Vavi.

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