/ 20 September 2007

ANC lashes ‘arrogant’ Cosatu

The African National Congress (ANC) on Thursday called on its members to ”ignore the insulting decision” taken by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) to make recommendations for the election of the ruling party’s national leadership.

”The ANC expresses its unequivocal rejection of this totally unacceptable attempt to tell the ANC how it should constitute its leadership,” the party said in a statement.

”We call on the entirety of our membership to firmly reject this arrogant attempt to usurp their right to choose the leadership of their organisation.”

With the party’s national conference in Polokwane a month away, it called on its members to ignore the ”insulting decision” taken by Cosatu.

‘Exclusive right’

”Next month, as our branches and other structures engage the process of nominating possible members of our national executive committee, they must completely ignore the insulting decision taken by the Cosatu central committee.”

The ANC, which came under fire for its leadership style and economic policies at the union’s central committee meeting, was adamant that the election of ANC leaders was the ”exclusive right” of ANC structures.

”Nobody else, including our allies, the SACP [South African Communist Party], Cosatu, and Sanco [South African National Civic Organisation], and other formations of the mass democratic movement, has any right to determine who should lead the ANC at any level,” the party said.

It said it had never intervened in the election of leaders in its allied organisations, nor had any allied organisation in the past ”questioned the intelligence, political consciousness and revolutionary commitment of the membership of the sister formations”.

The ”contemptuous” attempt by Cosatu to make such recommendations subverting these traditions could only have three aims, the ANC said.

That is to destroy the ANC as an independent organisation, to destroy the tripartite alliance, or to ”prepare conditions for the defeat of the national democratic revolution”.

The ruling party cautioned that it would ”take all necessary steps” to defeat these objectives.

Important symbol

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi on Thursday said that the trade union federation had no right to nominate people for the leadership election but it wanted to guide its members who also belonged to the ANC on who the right leaders for workers would be.

As Vavi uttered the words ”Resolution adopted,” delegates rose to their feet and broke out in song.

”There is sufficient consensus that Cosatu has no right to nominate … what we have done is identify the people who in our view will best represent the spirit of the congress,” he said.

The resolution recommends Zuma for ANC president, Kgalema Motlanthe for deputy president, Gwede Mantashe for secretary general, Baleka Mbete for deputy secretary general and Mathews Phosa for treasurer general.

Three names were put forward for the position of national chairperson. These were Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Makhenkesi Stofile and Mosiuoa Lekota. It was then decided that Lekota’s name be removed from the recommendations for this position and that the position go to a woman. However, the candidates have not yet been identified.

On Wednesday, Vavi had said about Zuma: ”I must say that he has become a very important symbol among workers and I will not be surprised if this conference endorses him as candidate for the ANC presidency.”

The charismatic Zuma is very popular with unions and the ANC rank-and-file despite being tainted by corruption allegations.

Cosatu’s decision is a major blow to President Thabo Mbeki, who says he will stand for a third term as ANC leader if asked.