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25 May 2006 14:25
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) voiced fears on Thursday that South Africa and the African National Congress are drifting towards a dictatorship.
“Dictatorship never announces its arrival,” Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said in Johannesburg.
“It won’t, like drum majorettes, beat drums and parade down the street to announce it has arrived.”
Vavi was briefing reporters on the outcome of a Cosatu central executive committee meeting.
“The main concern of the committee centres on signs that we may be drifting towards dictatorship. This appears in the use of state institutions ...
in narrow factional fights,” he said.
“We see it in the use of sections of the media to assassinate the character of individuals through off-the-record briefings and the leaking of sensitive information in the hands of those charged to investigate crimes.”
Other symptoms included the intimidation of journalists by senior party officials as well as the general stifling of debate and closing of democratic space.
“We may be on our way to a Zimbabwe-crisis in the long run.
Vavi said the ANC’s current national executive committee (NEC) is a club of Cabinet ministers and business people.
He said there is no longer anyone representing labour or civil society on that forum. As a result, the ANC is losing its pro-worker bias and increasingly becoming an instrument of capital.
But Cosatu and the South African Communist Party are determined to reverse this tide and take back the party.
“We are fighting for the ANC to retain its pro-worker bias,” Vavi said.
As a result, ending its alliance with the ANC is not on the agenda for Cosatu’s September congress.
Vavi said the ANC is “facing its worst crisis in years, with the Jacob Zuma matter as a symptom, not a cause”.
The party and the country are at a “decisive moment”.
He said the crisis was already apparent in 1996 when a faction sympathetic to business forced through the Growth, Empowerment and Redistribution strategy—without bothering to secure the support of the full NEC, the tripartite alliance or the public.
Since then, Cosatu has been tracking their project to turn the ANC “away from its radical character [and turn it] into a modern movement of professionals, delivering as a final product a centre-left political party that excludes others in the broad church of the movement.”—Sapa
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