Mantashe says Blade Nzimande needed for 'revolution'

Communist Blade Nzimande was made Minister of Higher Education because he was a revolutionary, metalworkers heard in Boksburg on Tuesday.

“We need a person who understands the concept of the skills revolution: that the skills revolution is critical for the success of this country,” African National Congress secretary general Gwede Mantashe told a mini national congress of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa.

“Therefore, you need a revolutionary to do that revolution,” he said.

Mantashe said the possibility of moving the skills directorate from the department of labour to Nzimande’s department was being discussed.

Nzimande was also to have addressed the congress, but could not because he was in a briefing with President Jacob Zuma. He is now expected to speak on Wednesday morning.

His post is one of six new ministries which have been introduced under Zuma’s administration, and have drawn criticism from opposition parties.

Mantashe suggested that these critics look at the ANC’s manifesto. “All of them [the new positions] are talking to the programmes of the ANC,” he said, appealing to Numsa members to support these programmes.

The trade union movement had to do its part in monitoring all levels of the government and reporting any concerns and problems it identified.

Also addressing the meeting, Congress of South African Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi pointed to the number of trade unionists in Zuma’s Cabinet, among them Nzimande.

“We can’t just donate leaders and have no contact with them,” said Vavi, who turned down an ANC nomination to be an MP after Cosatu-affiliates indicated their unease at losing both him and Nzimande to the government.

He made it clear that the new Cabinet members were not only expected to stay in touch with the working class, but to make sure trade unions benefited from their new positions in the government.

“We can’t just donate comrades and be getting nothing in return ... Nothing for mahala,” he said. - Sapa



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