There may be no Zuma moment – Vavi
All is not well in the leadership of the Congress of Trade Unions (Cosatu).
This became clear today when Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi fired a broadside at his fellow worker leaders.
He took aim at those who are close to president Jacob Zuma and have been elected to the national executive committee (NEC) of the ANC, including Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini.
Vavi spoke at the Chris Hani Institute in Cosatu House today where he was debating the so-called “Lula Moment” in Brazil. This refers to the second term of Brazilian president Lula da Silva which was characterised by economic growth and social spending that saw a narrowing of the equality gap in the South American country.
At the Cosatu congress this was dubbed the “Zuma moment” by ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, referring to president Jacob Zuma’s second term as ANC president.
But Vavi made it clear he is unhappy about how his fellow workers are not critical enough of the ANC.
“Are we still united around the principle or are we going to be in a bhuti-bhuti relationship [with the ANC]?” Vavi asked the audience.
“There will be no Zuma moment with a fractured movement. It will just become nice rhetoric for conferences.”
Dlamini and other worker leaders have been elected to the NEC, which decided last week to approve the youth wage subsidy and taking away teachers’ right to strike.
Both are decisions which raised Cosatu’s ire, but Dlamini was quoted as saying the youth wage subsidy may be a “small element” of the ANC’s raft of new youth employment plans.
Vavi said Cosatu’s independence is its mainstay, and suggested that this was under threat.
“Cosatu allies must allow Cosatu to be independent, not try to use remote controls to control a particular agenda,” he said.
The recent reports on Eskom spending millions on sponsoring business breakfasts run by the company owned by the Gupta family – close friends of the president – irked Vavi immensely.
“What type of eggs are these comrades (having) that cost millions? And then they want to tell us 16% increase,” he said, referring to Eskom’s proposed electricity price hike.
He said Cosatu should not become a mouthpiece of the ANC.
“Cosatu must have originality in thought and not just mouth what it has heard at a rally.”
Vavi cited recent reports on spending by the public works department on renovating ministerial residences as well as the “private residence of the president at Nkandla”.
He also has reservations about Manguang, the ANC’s elective conference that took place in December.
“Do the fellows in Mangaung represent what society thinks? I’m not so sure.”