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South Africa: ANC leaders attack COSATU

By John Haylett

November 5, 2010 -- Morning Star -- Relations between the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and sections of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) plumbed new depths this week following a union-initiated Civil Society conference.

The October 27 conference was organised by COSATU and human rights bodies Section 27 and the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC). More than 50 independent organisations took part, debating how to encourage community-based activism to achieve social justice and improve poor people's lives. [Read the declaration of the civil society conference. Read Zwelimzima Vavi's speech to the conference.]

So far so uncontroversial, but the organisers had agreed to make the conference non-party political, which meant that neither the ANC nor the South African Communist Party (SACP) were invited to take part.

The SACP didn't comment on this, but the ANC national working committee, which met on November 1, went bananas. ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, who is also SACP chairperson and a former miners' union leader, suggested that the conference could be the first step in setting up something akin to Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change or Zambia's Movement for Multiparty Democracy. He warned that forming a civil society movement outside the tripartite (ANC-SACP-COSATU) alliance could be "interpreted as the initiation of regime change" in South Africa.

Mantashe recalled that, when the Congress of the People (COPE) splinter had broken away from the ANC, "we raised the consistent efforts made in the region by powerful international forces to weaken the liberation movements".

In response, COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said: "I don't know why they are paranoid, but we do not regret the conference. There is no reason for the ANC to be upset."

Vavi explained that the new initiative would focus on delivery of government education, health and job creation programmes. "We are now getting a role for civil society to play in line with the ANC slogan, 'The people shall govern'," he added.

The COSATU leader stated categorically that "we are not an anti-ANC and anti-government coalition. We are not here to begin a process to form any political party, nor to advance the interest of any individual."

COSATU president Sidumo Dlamini added that the agenda was not "to weaken the democratic movement, the alliance or the government. On the contrary, it is meant to strengthen it. These organisations have learnt from their own struggles and victories about the benefits of working with the democratic government and to concurrently confront and challenge it when it cannot listen."

TAC chairperson Nonkosi Khumalo and Section 27 executive director Mark Heywood expressed their surprise at "the insinuations that the conference is part of a plot against the ANC".

They characterised the ANC national working committee attitude as "reminiscent of the paranoia of the [President Thabo] Mbeki era. It is a conduct that suggests the ANC, or some of the people who hide under its flag, have something to fear."

Vavi was, as ever, outspoken at the conference, returning to well-worn and, arguably, well-justified themes of corruption within leading ANC circles. He hammered "predators and hyenas", who were obsessed with amassing personal wealth at the expense of the poor.

Once again, this struck a raw nerve among some ANC leaders, not least Youth League president Julius Malema, who had been a guest at a lavish birthday party laid on by wealthy Johannesburg businessman Kenny Kunene at a nightclub he owns.

Half-naked young women, painted grey, were a feature of the party, which also involved one woman draped over a table where partygoers were invited to eat sushi from her bare stomach, in between quaffing Dom Perignon, Cristal and Moet & Chandon champagnes and Chivaz Regal whisky.

"It is the sight of these parties, where the elite display their wealth, often secured by questionable methods, that turns my stomach," said Vavi.

Kunene responded that, if Vavi cared so much for the poor, he should stop wearing "high-collar designer shirts", adding, "Why don't you sell your house and live in a shack?"

Malema accused Vavi of doing the opposition Democratic Alliance's work for it, insisting that there was nothing wrong with being a capitalist.

"They want you to remain poor and die poor and, once you've died, poor people will see that there is no need to join this organisation. We have no reason to apologise. We are young. We will never apologise for partying. It is our responsibility."

COSATU deputy president Zingiswa Losi took up the cudgels with Vavi against Kunene and Malema. "They condemn themselves out of their own mouths and have exposed to the world the rotten, immoral world in which these greedy capitalist exploiters live -- a decadent sewer of conspicuous consumption", she declared.

"These half-naked women are being treated as sex objects -- little more than party accessories, to decorate the room and provide some lewd enjoyment to the invited men, as they enjoyed their sushi, champagne and whisky."

ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said that leaders identified as corrupt at the civil society conference have been advised to seek legal redress, but this is unlikely to happen.

More likely is a further meeting of the tripartite alliance to paper over the cracks.

However, the way ahead, in light of tensions caused by ongoing government neoliberal policies, will probably witness an upsurge in union-supported grass-roots actions to prioritise social justice over self-enrichment.

[This article first appeared in the British daily Morning Star.]



COSATU’s response to ANC statement

The Congress of South African Trade Unions is shocked by the statement issued today, 2 November 2010, by the ANC’s National Working Committee, in response to the highly successful Civil Society Conference held last week.

The statement fails to understand the nature and role of civil society
in the national democratic revolution and raises totally groundless
fears of the formation of an ‘opposition block’.

COSATU and the other organisations (Treatment Action Campaign and Section 27) who planned the conference went out of their way to explain who would be invited, and agreed that no political parties would be invited, as this would undermine its status as a meeting of
civil society and change the whole character of the conference.

Therefore the statement’s allegation that the decision not to invite the ANC and SACP was an attempt “to put a wedge between civil society formations, some unions, the ANC and its Government” is baseless. (Incidentally, contrary to the ANC statement, SANCO was invited and
did participate in the conference – anyone can view the attendance register of the conference)

COSATU remains firmly committed to its alliance with the ANC, SACP and SANCO, mandated by many National Congress resolutions. It has however also always been, and will remain, a trade union federation, independent of the ANC, the state and capital, with the right to meet
and interact with any organisation, as long as this advances the interests of the working class. COSATU has no need to seek permission from anyone to meet and work with friendly pro-poor and pro-working class organisations.

The ANC in any case has nothing to fear from the views expressed at the Civil Society Conference. Indeed they should have been celebrating the fact that the main speeches and the final declaration were advocating the same policies as those of the ANC’s own 2007 Polokwane Conference, which were re-endorsed by the recent ANC National General

In his keynote address, COSATU General Secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi stated quite categorically that “we are not an anti-ANC and anti-government coalition. We are not here to begin a process to form any political party, nor to advance the interest of any individual”.

This was echoed by COSATU President, Sidumo Dlamini, when he said that the conference agenda “is not meant to weaken the democratic movement, the alliance or the government. On the contrary it is meant to strengthen it. These organisations have learnt from their own
struggles and victories about the benefits of working with the democratic government and to concurrently confront and challenge it when it cannot listen. It is true that out of over 300 delegates just one made a call for the formation of a Workers Party. Indeed there are a number of people who shared this view but the overwhelming majority of the delegates did
not dissent from the views expressed by both the President and General Secretary of COSATU.

Contrary to the impression given by the ANC statement, speakers at the conference went out of their way to heap praise on the ANC government’s achievements and it is worth repeating them in full:

“We are encouraged by the knowledge and evidence that our government has the capacity to build millions of houses for the poor,” said Sidumo Dlamini. “We know that since 1994 households with access to potable water have increase from 64% to 97%, households with access to electricity have increased from 51% to 73% and that households with access to sanitation have increased from 50% to 77%”.

“In our 16 years of democracy we have achieved major advances”, said Zwelinzima Vavi. “We have a democratic Constitution and many laws, which have given South Africans basic rights, on paper at least, to freedom, dignity and equality.

“There have been significant important improvements in the lives of millions of our people. As examples: In 1996, only 3 million people had access to social grants; today the figure is 14 million. In 1996, 58% of the population had access to electricity; today the figure is 80%. In 1996, 62% of the population had access to running water; today the figure is 88%. We have built 3.1 million subsidised houses, giving shelter to over 15 million people.”

The ANC statements complains that “the government of the ANC was prosecuted and found guilty while in absentia for amongst other things of pursuing ‘neoliberal’ policies and not doing enough to ‘reverse the apartheid fault lines’ in relation to health, the economy, education, employment and unemployment and the rising inequality gap”.

Yet the ANC NGC resolution itself reached very similar conclusions, saying that, “Sixteen years into our democracy, while we have made substantial progress, we have not yet achieved true economic transformation, which should include fundamentally changing the structure of the economy and the distribution of wealth and income in our society… We have to achieve higher levels of growth and ensure that such growth benefits all of society, especially the poor”.

“The economic downturn saw the loss of over a million jobs in our country and job losses were continuing in the first six months of this year despite the return of economic growth. This has worsened what is an unacceptable level of joblessness in our country.

“These developments point to the core importance of redirecting and transforming economic growth, in order to bring about greater equity based on the creation of decent employment.”

The ANC also charges that Civil Society also found the government “guilty in absentia of inactivity in fighting corruption”. Again the NGC delegates shared the conference’s concerns, resolving that “we must implement the provisions of our election manifesto which state
that politicians should not tamper with the adjudication of tenders. Basically we must not allow tenders to destroy the ANC”.

COSATU, and the overwhelming majority of civil society organisations, are fully committed to working with, not against the ANC and the government. United together, the liberation movement and civil society are an invincible force for change and national liberation. Let us
unite and work together to achieve our shared aims!

Let us again state categorically that whilst COSATU is fully committed to the existence of the Alliance with the ANC, SACP and SANCO, COSATU is an independent organisation free to meet other unions and civil society formations and to pursue its own working class agenda as long
as this will not undermine but deepen the NDR.

We are not going to respond to all other insinuations and questioning the bonafides of COSATU and its individual leaders, clearly targeted for smear campaigns. We engage on the basis of principle. To us the 2007 Polokwane conference of the ANC was about the burial of the tendencies to question bonafides, launch smear campaigns and use state institutions to deal with targeted individuals. Regrettably the ANC statement takes us back to those waters. We won’t cooperate.

Cosatu statement ends.


Following the National General Council meeting held in September, this year, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC was directed to perform a number of responsibilities.

The NGC directed the NEC to report the outcomes of the NGC to the ANC membership ANC their branches.

As such, the NWC resolved that the month of November must be dedicated for such report backs through feedback sessions to our branches. The NEC will therefore visit 53 regions of the ANC in carrying out this directive.

For this purpose, the NEC has been divided into twenty teams that will be able to cover all the 53 regions over three weeks. The first week will be this coming Sunday, the 7th November 2010, then it will be followed by the 21st & 28th November 2010.

Through these feedback sessions, the NEC will immediately have an opportunity to assess the reception of the message and strengthen all areas of identified weaknesses when the NEC holds its regular meeting on the 13th of November 2010. The NEC will then use the feedback received from the NEC discussions to strengthen their message in the remaining regions, on the 21st and 28th November 2010.

The NWC reflected on the Civil Society Conference that was convened by COSATU which was held last week.

The NWC noted with astonishment that COSATU being part of the Alliance, found it appropriate to convene such as conference without inviting its partners in the Alliance. It further noted that even the government was not invited to share its views on matters that were on the agenda of the Conference.

Instead, the government of the ANC, was prosecuted and found guilty whilst in absentia for amongst other things pursuing “Neo Liberal” policies and not doing enough to “reverse the apartheid fault lines” in relations to health, the economy, education, employment and unemployment and the rising inequality gap between the haves, in the main who are white and the have nothing, in the main those black.

Government was also found guilty in absentia of inactivity on issues of fighting corruption.

The NWC also found it very strange and suspicious that whilst in the past, liberation movements have been at the center of ensuring the deepening and the advancement of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR), in this instance, the liberation movement is left out of a mechanism to advance and deepen the NDR as it relates to the matters raised at the conference.

Whilst there are denials in speeches and declarations that were presented at the conference that this conference or this mobilization is “Not anti government nor Anti ANC,” the failure to invite the ANC and other alliance partners and the failure to allow government to respond to the matters raised and also to be made wiser points to the opposite.

The assertion and suggestion made by Civil Society formations and some unions and unions leaders, can be clearly interpreted by any logical thinking person as an attempt on the side of the organizers to put a wedge between civil society formations, some Unions, the ANC and its Government.

We should all learn from history of what happened in some parts of the continent, when some labour leaders working together with civil society formations, came up with alternative political parties to unset the ruling parties and governments in those parts of the continent.

We believe the leadership of COSATU is fully aware of what we are talking about here, and we believe the majority of the COSATU leadership have no intention of implementing regime change in South Africa, but we non-the-less caution, that an action like the one of leading a charge for the formation and for the mobilization of a mass civic movement outside of the Alliance partners and the ANC might indeed be interpreted as initial steps for regime change in South Africa. This is further reinforced by the attacks on all black political parties by the Secretary General of COSATU and the notable omission of the main opposition in such attacks.

An organized and mobilized civil society is good for democracy. Equally an organized and mobilised civil society that has positioned itself as an opposition to other forces of change is having the potential of derailing the revolution and the programme for change.

This initiative could have been more positive if all progressive forces were invited. We noted that the ANC, the SACP and SANCO were not invited, positioning the conference as an alternative block to the Alliance. The argument that inviting the Alliance partners would trigger a demand by other political parties to be invited is not a new argument but an argument that reactionary forces always used. The ANC will never be ashamed of inviting COSATU to any activity on the basis that other trade union federations will want to be invited.

The issues raised in the manifesto are talking to the programme of our government. The programme outlined in the declaration positions this new block as an opposition block that will oppose and resist any initiative taken by the government. The declaration says that anything that talks to wage moderation or a pact with the government must be opposed and resisted.

The context of all social partners coming together and being prepared to give up some of the issues that would be ordinarily be seen as untouchable in the effort to get as many people as possible to be employed is lost. Instead extremism that workers should not sacrifice for the benefit of the unemployed and those in vulnerable sectors of employment come through very strongly.

COSATU was part of the multi-stakeholder delegation that visited both the Netherland and Ireland to look into living case studies on how unemployment was fought and successfully reduced from more than 20% to structural levels of about 5%. The formation of the Millenium Labour Council was a product of this tour.

To pretend that government alone can resolve the problems facing society of unemployment, poverty and inequality, with business and the labour movement protesting on the sidelines, reflects oppositionism that is characterizing the debate.

The fact that some raised the possibility of forming an alternative party, “the Workers Party”, confirms that this is not a new idea, but a recycled idea of weakening, dividing and ultimately dividing the ANC and the alliance. When COPE was formed we raised the consistent efforts made in the region by powerful international forces to weaken the liberation movements.

In the majority of cases, the funding of the divisions of liberation forces is funded by those who supported them originally. This funding is normally directed to organs of civil society with an aimed of forming opposition parties. This was the process that preceded the formation of the MDC in Zimbabwe and the MMD in Zambia. The process of getting legitimate individuals from within the liberation movement informed the support given to Mr Lekota in South Africa and Mr Hamutenya in Namibia.

Without panicking as accused by the General Secretary of COSATU we must be alive to the possibilities of forming blocks against the liberation movement. The initiative by opposition parties to merge into a strong block against the ANC is equally informed by the neo-liberal view that liberation movements in the region are too strong.

The ANC has the responsibility of analyzing and understand any initiative that has the potential to divide the liberation forces. The civil society conference can easily be used as a vehicle that propels individuals with ambitions who understand that individually they cannot go very far. We must therefore continue watching the space. We will continue investing time, energy and resources in addressing problems facing society.

Organs of civil society are invited to work with us as part of the broad democratic movement. We must confront the tendency of not engaging government but consistently project them as responsible for the ills of society. In that process find ourselves confronted by a movement that has the monopoly of ideas on where the solutions reside. Transforming society includes contest of ideas where mistakes do not constitute life sentencing as extremism always watch in the sidelines and give sentences to those who commit mistakes in the process of doing practical work.

The ANC will raise these issued and the commitment of COSATU to the Alliance partnership in a meeting that will be called urgently. Whilst we have not concluded these matters, we non-the-less are appalled by even reference to some leaders in the ANC as the “predator elite” who have shown their back to the plight of the poor.

The ANC remains committed to addressing all ills that confronts the South African society and the poor. In these efforts we are prepared to work with everyone.

Statement issued by, Gwede Mantashe, African National Congress Secretary General, November 2 2010

The current ANC National Working Committee is:

President, Zuma Jacob
Deputy President, Motlanthe Kgalema
Secretary General, Mantashe Gwede
Deputy Secretary General, Modise Thandi
National Chairperson, Mbete Baleka
Treasurer General, Phosa Mathews
Chabane, Collins
Dlamini, Bathabile
Duarte, Jessie
Ebrahim, Ebrahim
Joemat- Pettersson, Tina
Jordan, Pallo
Malema, Julius
Noluthando Sibiya-Mayende
Mbalula, Fikile
Mfeketo, Nomaindia
Motshekga, Angie
Mthethwa, Nathi
Nkoana- Mashabane, Maite
Nyanda, Siphiwe
Nzimande, Blade
Pule, Dina
Radebe, Jeff
Shabangu, Suzan
Sisulu, Lindiwe
Sisulu, Max
Stofile, Makhenkesi
Tolashe, Sisisi
Yengeni, Tony
Sejake, Sandi
Mthembu, Jackson

The ANC should not be scared of independent campaigns

The ANC should not be scared of independent campaigns against corruption and for service delivery, human rights and public accountability

Statement by the TAC and SECTION27, co-hosts of the Labour/Civil Society conference

3 November 2010

The Civil Society Conference held on 27-28 October 2010 will hopefully come to be seen as a historic turning point in South Africa. It may mark the revival of co-ordinated community based activism that aims to achieve social justice and better the lives of the poor in South Africa. It was attended by more than 50 independent organisations that believe in social justice and that fight for it every day.

Civil society is therefore taken aback by attacks on the motives of the conference emanating from the ANC’s National Working Committee (NWC) on 1 November 2010. We are surprised by the insinuations that the conference is part of a plot against the ANC. We expect better of the post-Polokwane ANC. This is conduct reminiscent of the paranoia of the Mbeki era. It is a conduct that suggests the ANC, or some of the people who hide under its flag, have something to fear.

Why did the conference take place?

Over recent years, for the most part, civil society organisations have worked separately on a multitude of struggles for service delivery, human rights and public and private accountability. The purpose of the conference was therefore to:

* Attempt to rediscover unity amongst civil society organisations;

* Find common causes and common strategies in our various campaigns for social justice.

The conference organisers recognise that it is better to fight together for social justice than apart. Civil society and the trade union movement are unified in our vision of building a better country based on the rights and laws enshrined in the Constitution.

Fortunately in the democratic South Africa we don’t need anyone’s permission to meet. The ANC is a liberation movement and political party that most of us still support. It is not big brother.

The conference was neither anti-ANC nor anti-government. It stayed clear of debates about party politics and sought to be inclusive of various strands of political opinion amongst campaigners for social justice. But it did discuss the politics of service delivery, corruption and the major political challenges facing the country. It gave special attention to our deeply vulnerable and poor health and education systems. The conference was pro-poor, pro-justice and pro-democracy.

We welcome the fact that COSATU participated and played a leading part in the conference. COSATU vociferously draws attention to the wrongs of our society and has called for a new economic growth path. The conference was an opportunity to learn about and debate COSATU’s ideas.

COSATU represents organised working people. But they are tied through unemployment, poverty and squalid conditions to the issues for which civil society organisations fight daily: the fact that millions of people in South Africa are still homeless; declining life-expectancy due to HIV/AIDS and the enormous problems facing our health system; the terribly low levels of education that millions of children receive exacerbated by inequality between well-resourced private and former Model C schools and government schools; the need for accountability to communities especially by local government; the inadequate sanitation and insufficient access to electricity and other basic services endured by so many; and the high levels of crime.

What next?

The Conference was not a once off event. As stated in the Conference Declaration, we have agreed to further meetings at Provincial and district level and on key campaigns. This includes debating and developing a Social Justice Charter in coming months, which we hope the ANC will support.

The Conference also agreed to intensify human rights education and organisation among the poorest of the poor – people who are ignored by politicians and elites, and insulted by shameless sights of conspicuous consumption that mark out the new and old elite. (Please note: Commission reports from the conference will be issued in coming weeks.)

We believe the ANC NWC should have welcomed the conference. It should particularly have welcomed the affirmation of the Constitution and rule of law that is at the centre of the Conference Declaration. It should welcome an additional ally in the fight against corruption.

Effective government depends on a vigilant, capable civil society that knows the law, protects human rights and can act against what is wrong. The Civil Society/COSATU Conference did not challenge the ANC-led alliance; it only challenged the alliance to deliver.

In conclusion therefore let us state that:

1. As progressive social justice organisations committed to the poor and constitutional rights, we will continue to engage both the ANC and the government. Where necessary we have also used the courts. The conference commits us to continue to do so.
2. That we call on ANC to reconsider its ill-advised statement and provide effective leadership to society and instead affirm and support our objectives.
3. That we call on civil society and COSATU not to be intimidated by this statement but to work patiently, harder, and with discipline in taking forward the conference decisions.

Nonkosi Khumalo, TAC Chairperson

Mark Heywood, SECTION27 Executive Director

AIDC disappointed with ANC statement

AIDC disappointed with ANC statement
Mark Weinberg, AIDC Deputy Director, 3 November 2010

As one of the participant organisations at the 28-29 October 2010 COSATU-convened conference with civil society, the Alternative Information and Development Centre ( and is extremely disappointed with the official response of the ANC’s National Working Committee (NWC) to the conference.

We call on civil society to defend their rights of freedom of association and expression, which the ANC statement brings into question. In its lengthy statement issued yesterday, the ANC NWC misrepresented what the conference was about. In doing so, it displayed extreme paranoia and ineffective leadership that is reminiscent of the Thabo Mbeki era.

It is regrettable that this important civil society initiative, led by COSATU, TAC and Section 27 to develop a principled struggle against corruption and neo-liberal policies, receives this irrational response from the ANC leadership.

Worse is that the ANC NWC statement casts unfounded personal aspersions against Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi, the COSATU General Secretary. With the depth of the socio-economic crises we face in this country, the AIDC would have expected the ANC NWC to focus its attention on far more important issues, such as the continuing jobs bloodbath, than to worry about finding ghosts and enemies under every carpet in our society.

AIDC believes that the letter, intent, spirit and outcomes of the conference must be defended. We must not be intimidated and we will not stand by and let progressive organisations of our people be attacked by an ANC leadership that is failing to lead society away from the avarice of greed, neo-liberal service delivery, inequality, joblessness, and capitalist exploitation.

The ANC NWC statement is in fact a clear call to civil society and the mass of our people to intensify and sustain disciplined mass struggles that challenge capitalist power and neo-liberal economic policies, and that advance pro-poor policies for deepening democracy and advancing social justice. The fight against, what COSATU has correctly called the predatory elite, and their efforts to transform the state into a predatory one, must be resisted with all our combined strength. In fact, these struggles were at the heart of the COSATU-civil society conference that the ANC NWC has attacked.

The conference was a significant step in another regard: In endorsing the goals of, and strengthening COSATU’s Growth Plan Towards Full Employment document, the conference underlined the need to directly and consistently challenge the continuity of neo-liberal economic policies. The need to move away from neo-liberal economic policies has great potential to change the economy and create jobs whilst also laying the foundation to challenge the exploitative logic of the capitalist system. None of these are possible without sustained social mobilisation. Instead of blocking these, the ANC leadership should be at the forefront of using its governmental power and a mobilised populace to advance pro-poor economic policies.

The AIDC calls on civil society not to be side-tracked by the ANC NWC statement. Instead, civil society must do everything in its efforts to ensure the effective implementation of the conference resolutions. As the publisher of the Amandla magazine, the AIDC will use the pages of Amandla to take forward important debates in this regard and thereby contribute to the strengthening of mass movements for social justice.

Finally, the AIDC salutes COSATU, TAC and Section 27 for convening the conference. We further salute COSATU for its principled response to the ANC NWC statement.

Vavi tells ANC, `Relax'

ANC to Cosatu: If you flirt with others, let us know

The African National Congress's (ANC) criticism of the Congress of South African Trade Unions's (Coastu) civil society conference was not motivated by paranoia, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said on Thursday.

"Reality informs our perceptions, not paranoia," Mantashe said, speaking at a gathering hosted by the Daily Maverick in Sandton.

"The issue is that the ANC has a relationship with Cosatu," Mantashe said, as Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi sat in the audience.

"Therefore, if you are going to flirt with other people, you talk to your alliance partners, so that there are no suspicions."

By "other people" Mantashe was referring to civil society organisations with which Cosatu held a conference last week. Neither ANC nor government representatives were invited.

Cosatu: The ANC being 'paranoid'
At an ANC press briefing following the conference, the party cautioned Cosatu about attempting to effect regime change in South Africa. Vavi then said the ruling party was being "paranoid".

Mantashe denied this, saying there were "living examples" of civil society organisations being funded to oppose liberation movements, for example, Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

There were also civil society organisations in South Africa who were hostile toward the ruling party.

The issue was, Mantashe said, that Cosatu had "flirted" with these groups, without informing its allies.

A war of words erupted over the conference with civil society groups. Section27 and the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) lashed out at the ANC, saying its paranoia reflected that of former president Thabo Mbeki.

Cosatu is not starting a new party
Vavi on Thursday said the conference was about giving the voiceless and marginalised "a powerful but peaceful vehicle to bring about change."

"The poor are already getting restless," he told the same gathering.

The conference could "revive the spirit of the mass democratic movement" which played a crucial role, along with the ANC, in fighting apartheid.

"There is absolutely no truth in the accusation that Cosatu is trying to set up a new party. We are not creating a coalition in opposition to the ANC government."

Rather, he said, Cosatu wanted to work with government to breathe life into the ANC's election slogan, "together we can do more".

Cosatu is not government's 'labourdesk'
He added, however, that Cosatu was not a government "labour desk". It was an independent organisation governed by its own constitution.

"Our relationship with the government is contradictory in the sense that we support it and praise it strongly when it takes the interests of the poor forward and condemn it strongly when it acts only in the interests of the powerful vested interest of the elite. This we will continue to do, irrespective of whether someone out there has a thin skin or not," he said.

"We won't seek permission from anybody to advance our class interests."

Cosatu remained committed to its alliance with the ANC, South African Communist Party (SACP) and the South African National Civics Organisation (Sanco), he said.

No copy-cat movement
The ANC was "perhaps the most heavily contested organisation in the world", Vavi said, with many groupings jostling to mould it to their liking.

"Every grouping wants to see it in its own image... the hyenas want the ANC to look like them."

Mantashe agreed with this saying, however, that the ANC's responsibility was to ensure that the party did not end up "looking like any of them."

It was a "multi-class liberation movement", he said.

Cosatu in Mpumalanga on Thursday said the ANC's response to the conference was evidence that South Africa was sliding "toward a predator state".

"... where a parasitic elite abuses state power and resources to satisfy their personal greed and crass materialistic interests, where the predatory elite subjects society to the politics of fear, political bondage and subjugation," said provincial secretary Fidel Mlombo.

Numsa throws its weight behind Vavi
Cosatu members were fully behind Vavi as he attempted to address the glaring inequalities in the country, he said.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) also came out in Vavi's support, saying it was "disturbed" by the ANC NWC's reaction to the conference.

"... if the ANC really believes its own soap opera then the entire Cosatu leadership and its membership must be charged with treason to overthrow the democratically elected government. Such is the seriousness of the ANC's allegation against Cosatu," Numsa said in a statement.

The union said Cosatu would continue to garner support for the ANC during the local government elections next year, but not with a "blank cheque".

"The ANC must relax. Rather than accusing Cosatu of plotting to unseat the ANC government, the ANC must think how best it can connect with the concerns raised by the civil society conference and then proceed to see how government can use this social power for the good of all South Africans." -- Sapa

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
Web Address:

‘No one planning to leave’ abusive relationship with ANC

‘There is no one planning to leave’

November 6 2010 at 07:03pm


Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini says the labour giant has no intention of leaving the ANC-led alliance. Photo: Bongiwe Mchunu

Alliance partners in the ANC, SACP and Cosatu brushed aside any suggestions of a split in Pietermaritzburg on Saturday, saying such talk had no substance.

Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini said the labour giant had no intention of leaving the ANC led alliance and would support the ruling party in next year's elections.

“We will go to Nongoma, Ulundi, Ngwavuma and Vryheid (all IFP controlled areas) in order to ensure that the ANC wins the elections,” said Dlamini.

Speaking at the conclusion of the SACP's Red October campaign he said the federation would ensure that the ruling party achieved clean sweep across the province.

“Let us all calm down, there is no one planning to leave,” said Dlamini in a veiled reference to the recently held civil society conference which many said was Cosatu's way of testing waters for the formation of a political party in future.

South African Communist Party (SACP) secretary general has Blade Nzimande warned party members against using the party membership to fight battles among themselves and alliance partners.

“We now have 110 000 members but we will not allow the party to be used to settle scores, we are not a refuge for aggrieved individuals,” said Nzimande.

Tensions have been one of the dominant features among partners in the past, especially in Pietermaritzburg leading to a near collapse of some municipalities.

While acknowledging problems within the alliance in Pietermaritzburg, Nzimande expressed confidence that ANC provincial chairperson Mkhize would ensure that all problems were solved in the provincial capital. Mkhize echoed Cosatu's sentiments dismissing suggestions of a split saying each of the partners needed each other ensuring effective service delivery in the country.

“The ANC cannot win by itself, it needs the assistance from its partners,” he said. Mkhize said Saturday's rally was an illustration of co-operation within the alliance because the rally was rescheduled to allow for an equally important cleansing ceremony taking place in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday.

The ceremony which will be graced by state president Jacob Zuma and Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini is aimed at healing the rift caused by political violence in KZN in the 1990s.

Hands off Vavi!!!

November 18, 2010

As workers in this country we are independent from all organizations and
we have our own mandate. One become so much worried as to all the
attacks meted out to the National Shopstewards and leader of the workers
Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi by both the ANC and the SACP.

Vavi did not organize the Conference as an individual now he is being
crucified as if he owes some an explanation or apology for Cosatu to
meet with the Civil Society.

Surprisingly even the Deputy Minister who is supposed to be defending
the working class but he cannot because he is some how diluted or given
a lolliepop by the bourgeoisies and fears to be re-called from the
comfort of parliament is has also joined the noise by the chosen few.

Vavi did not advice Cronin or whoever to dump their responsibilities or
abandon the SACP for parliament.

Vavi did not advice Cronin and the entire leadership of the SACP to
distance themselves from the poor and the working class to join the
capitalists in their hive of corruption called parliament.

The same leaders who are now making noise that the Federation did not
invite them to the conference came to North -West Province and engaged
with the former Secretary of the ANC's PEC in the North West at the back
of the Federation here and agreed to work with him without even
consulting us Party members and branches now they are trying to play
smart by attacking our GS.

The same Vavi they are attacking is the one doing a job for them by
recruiting and preaching to workers to join and build the strong PARTY.

The same COSATU that is being attacked is the one that is swelling the
ranks of both the ANC and the SACP.

How many COSATU leaders are in the CEC of the PARTY?

Atleast COSATU or worker leaders who were seconded to government had the
decency to let their union positions go so as to give chance to other
capable cadres to takeover but unfortunately one cannot by any chance
say the same about the Ministers.

One starts doubting the leadership of the PARTY and question if they are
real communists or is the PARTY their ladder to capitalism as they are
no more playing their role of being the vanguards of the working class.

In the North West the PARTY and the ANC are having a tendency of being
silent when farm workers are killed, evicted and ill-treated by the
racist farmers?

With the ANC its worse as some of the so-called leaders cried over the
death of the racist "Terror-blanche" who killed so many blacks in this
country whilst the don't even utter a word when same happens to poor
farmer workers.

The PARTY and the ANC never say anything when workers are oppressed and
humiliated by racist employers in the Province.

Elderly women are daily discriminated and against at institutions like
Sun City where they are even undressed for silly accusations but one
will never hear the PARTY and the ANC in the North West condemning those
barbaric actions.

So the question is what is wrong when COSATU convene a meeting with the
working class and the poor or the civil society to address issue of
service delivery and issues affecting the workers and the poor who are
being undermined by the powers that be in this country.

Why should we as worker leaders waist our breath and time by insisting
that the poor and the working class join and participate at the ANC and
the PARTY whilst leaders of both organizations does not have the
interest of the poor at heart.

We as the working class and the poor calls on COSATU to continue
engaging with the poor and the working class and the same Civil Society
be convened in all Provinces and not to request permission from anyone
or any organization.

We call on the National Leadership of COSATU to kick start that in the
North West as early as January 2011 so that we address the brutal
killings and sufferings of the poor farm workers in this Province as we
are one in this fight.

We call on Comrade Vavi not to be discouraged by anyone as he has over
2million COSATU members plus over millions of the ordinary poor and
working class in this country.


SACP's Jeremy Cronin turns on COSATU's Vavi

Cronin turns on Vavi

SACP general secretary condemns Cosatu for populist attacks on the ANC

Dominic Mahlangu, The Times, Johannesburg, 17 November 2010

The SA Communist Party has joined its ally, the ANC, in condemning
Cosatu for organising the civil society conference last month.

Writing in the party's newsletter Umsebenzi, SACP deputy general
secretary Jeremy Cronin questioned Cosatu leader Zwelinzima Vavi's
explanation on why the communist party and the ANC were not invited to
take part in the conference.

Last month, Cosatu, together with a number of non-governmental
organisations, held a conference in Johannesburg where government was
criticised for not acting strongly to fight corruption.

During the civil society gathering, Vavi told delegates that despite the
political achievements since 1994, the struggles of the people are

Vavi said the trade union federation's tolerance levels about crime and
lack of service delivery were running thin.

In his address to the civil society gathering, Vavi also took a swipe at
black political parties and said most of them were riddled with

Yesterday, Cronin questioned Vavi's attack on black parties. He said by
so doing he played into the hands of "right-wing liberals".

"This anti-politics politics, with its hint of Afro-pessimism -
unintentionally, no doubt - plays straight into the hands of
anti-majoritarian right-wing liberals - in fact, it represents their
hegemony," Cronin said.

Last week, the ANC also lashed out at Cosatu and accused it of being
"oppositionist" in its public comments at the gathering.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe went further, warning that Cosatu's
actions might be viewed as an attempt of a "regime change".

Last night, Cosatu said it stood by what it said at the civil society

Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven said: "We are going to respond to the
SACP but for now we stand by what we said at the conference."

The attack by Cronin and the ANC of the civil society conference is
likely to take centre stage next week when Cosatu's central executive
committee meets.

Vavi, who has been singled out by his alliance partners for his
criticism, will have to gather support from other Cosatu affiliate
leaders if he is to retain his political clout in the alliance.

Cronin said that while the union federation had to be challenged, the
ANC and the alliance should also shoulder some of the blame.

"In particular, there is a compradorial and parasitic rent-seeking
stratum within our movement, often linked to a demagogic populism that
has little respect for legality or the constitution," Cronin said.

He went further and said: "We need to be very careful that we are not
manipulated into someone else's agenda, particularly when that agenda is
itself increasingly hegemonised by a much more right-wing,
anti-majoritarian liberalism."


Cronin is ‘like a cuttlefish squirting out ink’

BRYAN ROSTRON: Cronin is ‘like a cuttlefish squirting out ink’

A SIMPLE law of politics is that unintelligible statements often signal an attempt to hide something.

Published: 2010/11/24 07:05:32 AM

A SIMPLE law of politics is that unintelligible statements often signal an attempt to hide something. Last week, Deputy Transport Minister Jeremy Cronin said: "As alliance partners, we need to be very careful that we are not manipulated into someone else’s strategic agenda, particularly when that agenda is itself increasingly hegemonised by a much more right- wing, antimajoritarian liberalism."

Cronin, deputy general secretary of the South African Communist Party
(SACP), wrote this in his party’s online newsletter. It does not appear to be in any of our 11 official languages.

He was referring to the civil society conference last month, including the Treatment Action Campaign and the Social Justice Coalition, which highlighted escalating levels of official corruption. The gathering was attended by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu). This independent initiative has been denounced by the African National Congress (ANC), which was outraged by Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi’s talk of "hyenas" looting the public purse.

The lickspittle nature of the SACP is shown by Cronin falling into line and joining the shrill chorus of condemnation. He suggested that the unions were flirting with "right-wing" formations. He also chucked in nebulous catch phrases such as "antipolitics" and "hint of Afropessimism".

Of course, Cronin has paid his dues. In 2002, after referring in an interview to the "Zanufication" of the ANC, he was subjected to a vicious campaign of personal and racial abuse. Then he was hauled before a disciplinary hearing — after which he apologised. What has changed since then? Has the ANC suddenly taken a big leftward swing? Not according to Cosatu. No, what has occurred in the meantime is the "Zumafication" of the ANC.

There have been few progressive steps since the "Zanufication" fiasco. Indeed, corruption has increased and an assertive social conservatism in governing circles is now more evident. Perhaps most regressive of all is the ANC’s stated desire to place statutory controls on the press. It is such authoritarian tendencies that the civil society conference addressed — an initiative Cronin, in convoluted rhetoric, now characterises as "right wing".

Cronin is a good writer. He is a fine poet and splendid essayist. So what on earth comes over him when he alleges unspecific "agendas" with formulaic, paranoid and opaque prose?

The classic answer comes from George Orwell, who spent a great deal of time decoding such Stalinist goo. "The great enemy of clear language is insincerity," he wrote in his great essay, Politics and the English Language. "When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink."

Right wing? On the day that Cronin’s online smear was reported on page three of Business Day, the page four headlines were: "Graft straining police resources" and "State failing whistle-blowers".

Meanwhile the front page recorded that the government’s secrecy laws are already effectively in place before any laws are passed — defence officials refused to reveal to MP s the state of readiness of air force pilots on the grounds that this compromises national security.

Cronin is part of this increasingly secretive and reactionary administration. No wonder he must rush to its defence with such tortuous claptrap.

But Orwell also wrote: "The real enemies of the working class are not those who talk to them in a too highbrow manner, they are those who try to trick them into identifying their interests with those of the exploiter."

This is exactly the trick the ANC is trying to pull off: to convince workers "we are all in this together" — the millionaire as much as the garbage collector. Of course, Cronin’s boss, Blade Nzimande, the general secretary of the SACP, has a R1,1m ministerial BMW and stays at luxury hotels.

In his poem, The Trouble with Revolutionism, Cronin wrote: "having abolished the bosses, /We became the bosses./(In the name of the workers, of course.)" He was being ironic. I think. Today, the gap between satire and ambition is hard to detect.

- Rostron is a freelance journalist and author.

Cronin 'a passive spectator'

Cronin 'a passive spectator'
by Sebastian Jozi, NEWS24, 24 November 2010

Jeremy Cronin’s article published on Politicsweb, for all intents and purpose is shallow and is informed by his stomach politics and the trappings of being a deputy minister. Without patriotism, a progressive, effective, majoritarian politics is impossible.

In the first place he fails to appreciate the general Marxist perspective of the role of trade unions in society and the fact that in general; the points of convergence between labour and government are limited to few strategic issues.

He displays the Stalinist tendencies that have characterised the SACP throughout its existence which has left the leftist politics enervated and without direction. He becomes a passive and cynical spectator, a wilfully marginal critic who sneers without suggestion and who neither cherishes the principle nor can truly practice politics. Perhaps he should have employed a great deal of his energy analysing the left in South Africa today and the possible extinction of left in the South African politics.

Revolutionaries must not only work with progressive unions but they should also seek to influence yellow unions a task the SACP long abandoned in its nature and conduct. The SACP’s inability to address practically issues of class and labour has removed the left from areas where political action could do the most good.

In other words, when specific instances of economic injustice and unfair labour practices are replaced with totalising concepts like “late capitalism”, the SACP find itself to be practically powerless, but comfortable with the idea that they, at least, know better. Therefore it is not surprising to hear Jeremy and other political charlatans like Julius Malema ranting about NDR when the fundamental material assumptions about NDR are no longer valid.

The mushroomed BEE elite stratum within the liberation movement ranks means that NDR can longer be carried as initial planned without serious alterations something that SACP that is failing to do. To a greater extent such terms as NDR are catchy phraseology that are used by the so called nationalists to fool the poor whilst amassing large some of wealth through political connections in the full view of the toiling masses of Diepsloot and Alexandra Township.

Unions are not revolutionary formations by their nature and character but reformist institutions as articulated by Lenin in Volume 4 of his Selected Works “What is To Be Done”, which is in one of the most celebrated works in revolutionary theory. Even though trade unions are not primarily revolutionary but reformist but they seek to improve the working and living conditions of their membership base through collective action and they also serve as a school for socialist thinking and practice. Trade can either be progressive or yellow (being a management puppet).

Unions would never agree with government and the ANC on everything; especially as the ANC is not a socialist party seeing the plutocracy that is radical surfacing.

The role that Cosatu plays in our society as a champion of workers’ interests and a defender of their rights places them in a position to seek alliances on certain issues with civil society organisations where those interests intersect. It is rich for Jeremy Cronin to confuse what is progressive and revolutionary.

His definition of liberalism is outside what Mao defined as a liberal in his work of the 7 September 1937. Jeremy is a spectatorial leftist with cultural pessimism who sees the very foundation of liberal democracy as the complicit in a larger and slightly shadowy conspiracy against the powerless. The same goes to Blade. Cosatu should remain dedicated to the liberal hope of diminishing cruelty and expanding human solidarity to ensure that the wholesale looting by the ruling elite does not go unchecked.

One sees nothing but an opportunistic analysis that is perverted as he never said a word when Cosatu excluded the ANC in the Budget Coalition that has been presenting an alternative budget.

A fundamental blunder that clouds him is to assume the ANC to be socialist and revolutionary without nuancing what constitutes the revolutionary and socialist aspects of the ANC. The ANC may be a progressive force. Feeble theorists like Jeremy think that dissolving political agents into plays of differential subjectivity, or political initiatives into pursuits of Lacan’s impossible object of desire, helps to subvert the established order.

NGOs by the nature are single issue organisations that may be progressive or reactionary. A meeting of progressive forces on issues where there is an intersection and commonalities of purpose is far from reactionary. The Reactionaries are those who condemn the progressive step Cosatu has taken as they have short memories and are selective. The irony of the matter is that the day Cosatu passed the resolutions to work with civil society Cronin was present and he never registered even whim of dissatisfaction with the resolution. But it is clear that Cronin is man of many ironies as he did not blinker to preside over the Gautrain launch notwithstanding e was known for being its armchair critic.

In his belated attempt to delay Cosatu from its mission and from its progressive agenda, Cronin fails to appreciate the nature and the dynamics of the plutarchic inclinations that are characterising the ANC lately. He seem to peddle the same old faith that the “ANC is us” even though now and again the working class has been sidelined in the decision making process as it relates to policy direction.

In his logic he condemns the trade unions to mere fanaticism whose usefulness can only be in the election campaigns. Cosatu cannot afford to be trapped in the eternal renewal of time via endless repetition of the same gestures and same words with the hope that somehow the intended outcome will be achieved.

The oligarchs by their nature are an elite affair that are exclusive in many ways and are never accountable to the masses. Although the Polokwane was touted to be a change in the policy direction but the BEE elitism is still continuing unabated. The nature of oligarchs demands a broader mass movement that is grassroots level based and is accountable and responsive to the masses.

One should learn from South African history that it was mass democratic movement across the civil society that defeated the strong mighty of the nuclear powered racial hegemony of the white supremacists. It will take another united mass based on pragmatic movement to defeat the wholesale power of the oligarchic nationalist elitism.

NUMSA attacks neoliberal `New Tendency' in ANC

'Neo-liberal' tag angers Gordhan
Nov 28, 2010 12:00 AM | By CAIPHUS KGOSANA and THABO MOKONE

A heated debate over the country's economic policy escalated into a war
of words between the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, and Numsa boss
Irvin Jim after Gordhan took offence at being called a "neo-liberal".

quote Minister reminds union boss that he gave 30 years to the struggle

The Sunday Times has learnt that the drama unfolded at last month's
meeting of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac)
in Rosebank, Johannesburg, where Gordhan was giving a briefing on his
medium-term budget policy statement.

Nedlac brings together government, business, labour and civil society to
debate economic policies.

Insiders who were at the meeting said Jim had sharply criticised the
main thrust of the medium-term budget, especially its emphasis on
conservative macro-economic policies that have long irked labour
federation Cosatu, such as sticking to inflation targeting, reducing the
budget deficit, relaxing exchange controls and maintaining the stability
of the rand.

This led to an exchange between Jim and Gordhan which culminated in the
Numsa boss calling the minister a "neo-liberal" for sticking to a
macro-economic stance that does not enjoy the full support of labour.

Gordhan is said to have angrily reacted by reminding Jim that he had
sacrificed 30 years of his life to the struggle.

Jim told the Sunday Times this week that his argument with Gordhan
stemmed from the minister's reliance on a discredited economic strategy.

"What is disturbing is we have an overvalued currency, high interest
rates and we are relaxing exchange controls to allow companies to list
overseas when we need every rand to remain in South Africa," he said.

The labour movement views the current macro-economic policy as the
continued pursuance of the stance that prevailed during the
administration of former President Thabo Mbeki.

He said the reluctance of the government to intervene and weaken the
rand was also short-sighted as the strength of the currency had severely
affected the manufacturing industry, leading to massive job losses.

Jim said Gordhan wanted to position his midterm policy review as the
basis for economic growth even at a time when the new economic growth
path was still under discussion.

National Treasury spokesman Jabulani Sikhakhane said they welcomed
constructive debate and criticism as it helped to enhance the quality of

Quoting from a report produced by Nobel laureate Mike Spence's
commission on growth and development, Sikhakhane hinted that the
Treasury might not have patience for what it deemed "bad ideas".

"The commission cautioned that debates can also be infected by bad
ideas. This means that policy makers must first identify bad ideas and
then prevent them from being implemented."


Sunday Tribune

Workers see red over hoarders in ANC top brass Cosatu warns of
'reactionary forces'

November 28, 2010 Edition 1


As tensions between the ANC and its alliance partners continue to
simmer, a top unionist has vowed workers will oust "criminal" elements
in the ruling alliance, saying members of this "new tendency" were set
on suppressing workers and propagating a politics of "rooi gevaar"
against progressive forces.

The latest salvo came from Cosatu affiliate National Union of
Metalworkers of SA's general secretary Irwin Jim, who said yesterday
this "right wing" in both the government and the tripartite alliance was
blocking decisive measures.

He urged workers to fight "this notorious group" and consciously swell
the ranks of ANC and SACP branches.

Addressing Numsa's Kwazulu-Natal congress in Durban, Jim stopped short
of calling the New Growth Path announced by the government this week as
a new Gear (Growth Employment And Redistribution) - the controversial
conservative economic policy introduced in 1996.

"The ruling class through the new tendency? is fighting every day to
ensure that our people continue to be deprived of their due in the
country's wealth," Jim said. "They have no shame that their accumulation
strategy reproduces poverty and starvation?

"?We witness realignment of reactionary forces who have taken a very
conservative stance? There is a new deliberate agenda to project Cosatu
and its leadership as the new threat to our revolution."

Jim did not name members of the "new tendency", but it is believed to
refer to individuals within the ANC's top echelons involved in an
attempt to discipline Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi earlier
this year. Vavi criticised Zuma for a lacklustre approach to fighting

Jim said Cosatu was not busy with "regime change" as had been claimed.

Trouble in the alliance after the Polokwane conference started a year
ago when ANC national executive committee member Billy Masethla publicly
said there was concern in the ANC about Cosatu and the SACP's socialist

The attacks from the ANC's top structures resumed after Cosatu's recent
civil society conference earlier this month, to which the alliance
partner was not invited. This coincided with Vavi's denouncement of
businessman Kenny Kunene's extravagant bash, where sushi was eaten from
women's bodies, as an example of conspicuous consumption that has taken
root in the ANC.

Jim's comments come on the back of an unusually stormy month in
relations between the alliance partners.

Despite the fact that the New Growth Path gives in to Cosatu's demand
for a relaxation of monetary policy to allow for a lower value of the
rand that could help retain jobs, the union federation was cool in its
reaction to the first real substitute to Gear.

Jim also lashed out at the government's lack of action on monetary policy.

"We've have just emerged from the shock of the Mid-term Budget which in
no way indicated the relaxation of such stringent policy."

Cosatu said it would respond in detail to the document after a special
meeting next month, but has already indicated that it won't accept the
proposal that worker's wages are capped along with that of executives'
pay and bonuses.

The SACP would respond only today at the end of its central committee

Cronin: SACP taking "collective responsibility for governance"

SACP MPs ‘must remain in play’

November 29 2010 at 12:20am
IOL pic nov29 jeremy cronin

Independent Newspapers

Jeremy Cronin of the SACP. Photo: Bongiwe Mchunu

Johannesburg - The South African Communist Party (SACP) will not recall senior members who have been deployed to the government, the SABC reported on Sunday.

“Within long periods of our life in which we've been banned and excluded... our ambition was always to be actively involved in state power,” SACP deputy general secretary Jeremy Cronin said.

This follows calls by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) for SACP general secretary blade Nzimande to resign from his ministerial post.

Cosatu believed the deployment of Nzimande and other senior SACP leaders to the government weakened the party and left the federation to wage a socialistic campaign on its own, the national broadcaster reported.

“Not to abandon that terrain to all others... We certainly work closely with the ANC in government... Going into government carries its challenges and risks, but it means you are taking on collective responsibility for governance,” Cronin said. - Sapa

No evidence of a split between the ANC and Cosatu

ANTHONY BUTLER: Public-sector unions call the shots as unity fades

SPECULATION about a potential collapse of the tripartite alliance between the African National Congress (ANC), the South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has persisted into the post-Polokwane era.

Published: 2011/05/20 07:16:19 AM

SPECULATION about a potential collapse of the tripartite alliance between the African National Congress (ANC), the South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has persisted into the post-Polokwane era. After a Cosatu-sponsored civil society conference last November, the ANC’s national working committee warned against any actions that might be "interpreted as initial steps for regime change in SA".

The political left is in reality unlikely to abandon the symbolic and electoral power of the ANC and to hand these assets to its conservative enemies. The municipal election campaign has nevertheless illuminated significant changes in the various political alignments of Cosatu’s affiliate unions.

There is no evidence of a split between the ANC and Cosatu. Instead, we may be witnessing an emergent chasm within the union movement itself. On the surface, Cosatu is a body with unified policy positions and a commanding leader in general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. Look deeper and the coherence of the federation is an illusion.

Five potential gains from the ANC’s Polokwane conference have come to nothing as a result of union divisions. First, the left has thrown away the developmental state for which it fought. President Jacob Zuma cunningly appointed Trevor Manuel as planning minister and Ebrahim Patel as the Jay Naidoo of the 21st century. Union leaders immediately battered their own idea of state planning into irrelevance.

Second, the potential of a national health insurance system has been endangered by unimaginative and self-interested health sector unions. Third, attempts to address SA’s basic education crisis have been obstructed by the gangsterism of the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu).

Fourth, although reformers have finally introduced legislation to partly depoliticise technical and managerial appointments in municipal government, it seems the Municipal Systems Amendment Bill will now be gutted to protect the interests of South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) activists. These purported representatives of the workers want to operate on both sides of the public- private fence and use state resources to enhance their political power.

Finally, grand promises about ending corruption have come to nothing. Escalating police and prison- service graft can be measured by the increased bribes now required for unqualified applicants to secure positions in these professions. ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has thrown in the towel on real reform and now argues that corruption is a "moral" crisis that cannot be combated by legal sanctions.

Cosatu has a brilliant history behind it. We should not forget that the federation changed SA for the better in the late 1980s, long before impotent exiles such as Zuma scuttled back to make sure peace was not reached without them.

Today, however, hard-headed industrial, manufacturing and mineworker unions are becoming a minority. Continued de-industrialisation and the growth of state employment guarantee that public- sector unions will soon dominate the federation.

Unions such as Sadtu, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union and Samwu are full of proletarian hot air. Their members, however, are part of an emerging middle class. Like their Afrikaner predecessors, they have a parasitical relationship with public resources.

Frontline workers with hard skills have become increasingly scarce but public-sector employment has nevertheless burgeoned in the past five years. Public service employment now stands at about 1,3-million, up from just a million in 2005. Public service remuneration runs at more than 10% of gross domestic product and 40% of government expenditure, while productivity has been flat.

In 2009, Mantashe felt confident enough to lambaste public-sector workers for their shoddy service delivery and work-shy attitudes. Now he is fighting for his political survival. Unionised state employees, paid from the public purse, may soon enter into an unholy alliance with the free spenders in the Presidency.

• Butler teaches politics at Wits University.

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