Cape Town - The ANC may die with a whimper rather than a bang. But whatever happens at Nasrec will signal the beginning of the end for the organisation. That is the view of Zwelinzima Vavi, former general secretary of Cosatu who now heads the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu).
Driving back to Johannesburg from Durban, he maintained that he was unaware of current events at the ANC’s 54th national elective conference at Nasrec. “Whatever happens will change nothing,” he said.
This attitude is not surprising since Vavi and the bulk of the Saftu unions, headed by the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa), have already dismissed both ANC presidential candidates Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa as “hopelessly compromised”.
In Vavi’s view, “no reasonable worker could vote for Cyril” because of his involvement in the events leading up to the massacre at Marikana and the fact that “he is a comprador, an agent for big capital”.
However, Dennis George, general secretary of the Federation of Unions, is hopeful that Ramaphosa will emerge as the next president of the governing ANC, if only because this may strengthen both investor confidence and the rand.
But George is also concerned should Mpumalanga’s David Mabuza and Free State’s Ace Magashule emerge, respectively, as deputy president and secretary general of the ANC. “That is what the premier league (the grouping of generally pro-Zuma provincial premiers) were planning,” he said.
However, having spent time at the ANC conference on Sunday, he is convinced that the open nominations from provinces such as Mpumalanga and Free State will not translate into votes in the secret ballot that is under way.
“All I will say is if Ramaphosa does not make it, there will be a bloodbath and, in the general election of 2019, the ANC will get less than 40% of the votes.” he added.
Alliance affiliates feel their voices not heard
According to a leading trade unionist attending elective conference, members of alliance affiliates Cosatu and the national civics organisation Sanco feel they have been marginalised. “Our voices are simply not heard,” is a common refrain.
That other alliance partner, the South African Communist Party, could also make similar claims, but has so far not done so. However, before the elective conference began, the SACP central committee met and discussed the potential and possible outcomes of the ANC conference. Although not stating any preference for who should lead the ANC, the SACP made clear its disillusionment with President Jacob Zuma.
A central committee statement outlined four issues it felt the incoming ANC executive should focus on:
- the struggle against corporate capture of the state, other forms of corruption, and general leadership arrogance;
- the establishment of an independent judicial commission into state capture;
- support for the criminal prosecution, without fear or favour, of all those exposed in the #GuptaLeaks emails and parliamentary hearings; and
- the removal of serially incompetent ministers.
This was widely seen as a barely veiled attack on Zuma and the series of scandals that have plagued him and his administration.
“What it means is that nothing is resolved here (at Nasrec) and the fight goes on. A luta continua,” an SACP member and delegate to the conference noted.