When Cosatu speaks out about problems in the country, this should not be seen as an attack on the ANC, Zwelinzima Vavi has said.
"I engage with public debates and will never take internal debates to social media. I will not be gagged, mightier ones failed in the past," the union federation general secretary said on Twitter on Monday.
He was reacting to statements by the ANC that the Congress of South African Trade Unions attacked its alliance partner in public.
On Sunday, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe told delegates at the party's national conference in Mangaung that Cosatu often came across as being in opposition to the party. "Tensions [between Cosatu and the ANC] arise around the federation's public posture," Mantashe said.
On Monday, Vavi posted several tweets indicating he did not believe he was attacking the ANC when speaking out about some public policies. "Yes I attack corruption, mediocrity, bad policies such as etolls, POIB [Protection of Information Bill], privatization [sic], etc. When Cosatu is misrepresented I correct that."
Mantashe criticised Cosatu for focusing too much on the ANC. "We made an observation that half of the time it gets too pre-occupied with analysing the ANC, and not on its own internal analysis."
In a tweet on Monday, Vavi said the ANC was "an instrument to build a better South Africa, that is what it was created for - nothing else!" He added in a different tweet, "[The] basic lesson we must teach all blind loyalists is that political parties are extremely important but not one of them more important than SA".
On the weekend, Vavi announced he had declined nominations to the ANC's national executive committee.
On Monday, he seemed pleased with his decision, suggesting that people that criticised him on Twitter for appearing harsh towards the ANC would further attack him if he had made it onto the party's NEC.
"Imagine if I was in the NEC, fellows who think like this would attack me every time I articulate Cosatu positions, saying I am ill-disciplined." – Sapa