Ex-boss slams Cosatu

2009-09-20 19:10

Cape Town - Former Cosatu president Willie Madisha on Sunday accused the trade union federation of putting personality clashes above workers' concerns and said he would push ahead with plans to set up an independent rival body.

Madisha said 150 representatives of independent unions decided at a meeting in Johannesburg on Saturday to hold a national founding conference by December.

"This course of action has been necessitated by the failure of the government, and by extension Cosatu, to address the material conditions of workers in this country," he said in a statement.

He accused the new administration of failing to act on election promises to curb poverty and create half a million new jobs while protecting existing ones. It was instead wasting energy on party infighting.

"This government is getting away with pre-election promises that it has not even attempted to address, but is already gripped in succession battles that hamper delivery and have the whole country holding its breath.

"This is indicative of the lack of a genuine concern for the poor and economically depressed working class majority."


Madisha said Cosatu invited questions about its relevance as a vanguard of workers' interests by focusing on succession battles shaping up in the African National Congress.

"It is a matter of grave concern that Cosatu obsesses itself with the succession battles of the ruling party and has taken it upon itself to be the power broker in the corridors of our government capitals.

"This obsession does not address the real issues affecting the workers in the shop floor. Whether [Minister in the Presidency] Trevor Manuel throws his weight around in Cabinet meetings does not benefit the workers... but Cosatu wants the workers to be dealing in personality issues rather than worker issues."

He said Cosatu had become nothing more than "a band of armchair revolutionaries who have alienated workers".

Madisha's sacking as Cosatu boss in February 2007 was widely seen as a result of his open support for then president Thabo Mbeki in his losing battle to retain control of the ANC.

Cosatu has become fiercely critical of former finance minister Manuel, accusing him of power-mongering.