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Vavi: 'Don't tell me there's a good story to tell'

Sapa and M&G Online reporter

Zwelinzima Vavi will campaign for the ANC, but his support will not be unconditional.

Cosatu's general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said he is bound by Cosatu's central executive committee decision to back the ANC. (Clarissa Sossin, M&G)

Cosatu's general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi will abide by his federation's decision to campaign for the ruling party ahead of the general elections, but said his support will not be unconditional, the Sunday Times reported.

Cosatu has announced it would back the African National Congress manifesto, largely based on the National Development Plan which Vavi opposed.

Vavi told the paper he was bound by Cosatu's central executive committee decision to back the ANC even though he believed that supporting the party's election manifesto amounted to the labour movement "committing class suicide".

"I have said there has to be a condition. Please don't expect me to say unemployment of 34.1% is a good story to tell, I will refuse.

"Don't tell me that there is a good story to tell when 50% of South African workers are earning below R3 000 a month ... It is a terrible story of inequalities. No one must ask us to lie," Vavi was quoted as saying.

Vavi's profile and support among the workers, one of the ANC's key constituencies, is crucial to the ruling party, which is facing its toughest poll since 1994. His is due to speak at an ANC May Day rally in Port Elizabeth.

'Traitor'

Some of his supporters have labelled him a traitor for campaigning for the ANC.

"This is why I am quarrelling with people who are calling me a traitor because the expectation from their side is, 'Our principled Superman should come back and call a press conference to announce that all those decisions by the CEC [central executive committee] were null and void," Vavi was quoted as saying.

"I can't. I won't campaign against the ANC in this election," Vavi said, adding that he respected the decision of the organisation especially because it was made by the majority of the federation.

The Congress of SA Trade Union's biggest affiliate and Vavi's staunchest backer, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA, has called on its members not to support the ANC in the May 7 elections.

So far, Vavi, who was suspended by Cosatu but reinstated by the Johannesburg high court, has managed to stay away from ANC events. But May Day is D-day for him.

Vavi faces the dilemma of either continuing his harsh tone against the ruling party and risking isolation after the elections, or betraying his angry supporters in the metalworkers union. - Sapa

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