Cosatu takes aim at Shilowa

The African National Congress (ANC) leadership in Gauteng meets on Wednesday to nominate a successor to outgoing Premier Mbhazima Shilowa, who has been branded a hypocrite by his former trade-union movement.

Shilowa announced his resignation on Monday, saying it was out of loyalty to ousted president Thabo Mbeki, who was removed from office by the national executive committee (NEC) of the ANC.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), of which Shilowa was a former general secretary, lashed out at him on Wednesday.

Cosatu welcomed his resignation and said he must leave office immediately.

“We believe that we can’t entrust ill-disciplined cadres with the responsibility of being the guardians of the state resources.”

It was “unacceptable” that Shilowa said he would find it difficult to defend the decision of the NEC of the ANC to remove Mbeki from office.

“We do not take kindly to his continuous criticism of that decision to recall Thabo Mbeki ... He does not have any authority to lambaste the ANC NEC decision in public,” Cosatu said.

The trade-union movement traced past comments by Shilowa as far back as 1999, when he, according to the statement, said he would “make mincemeat of Cosatu if it ever makes his life difficult as premier”.

In announcing his resignation, Shilowa said: “I am resigning due to my convictions that while the ANC has the right to recall any of its deployed cadres, the decision needs to be based on solid facts, be fair and just.

“I also did not feel that I will be able to, with conviction, publicly explain or defend the NEC’s decision on comrade Thabo Mbeki.

“You stand by your own if you think they’ve been wrongly dealt with.
I’m doing no more than that,” he added.

The ANC, in a statement on Tuesday, said: “As the ANC we disapprove of this unbecoming behaviour of a long-serving ANC member.

“We expect comrade Shilowa to observe discipline, behave honestly and carry out loyally the decisions of the majority and of higher bodies.”

The ANC provincial executive committee will nominate three candidates at a meeting, starting at 3pm, to take over from Shilowa, said spokesperson Nkenke Kekana.

The names would be forwarded to the national leadership for a decision.

Media reports have suggested the frontrunners to be provincial minister of finance Paul Mashatile and provincial minister of education Angie Motshekga.

The name of the new Gauteng premier would be known “at the earliest, by Friday”, said Kekana.

Meanwhile, the opposition Democratic Alliance defended Shilowa’s legacy in a statement on Wednesday, and described the attacks on him as extraordinary.

“How is it that despite Shilowa’s earlier immense popularity in the ANC in Gauteng, there is not a single ANC member who is now willing to defend him?,” asked DA Gauteng leader Jack Bloom.

“The ANC’s Stalinist slip is showing. This not a party where Shilowa belongs,” said Bloom.

Compelling reasons
Meanwhile, the Young Communist League on Wednesday urged Shilowa to provide compelling reasons as to why he should remain in the ANC.

“Individual members who are engaged in such wrongful activities only demonstrate that they have reached a point of a lost confidence in the movement that deployed them to public office ... it is not sufficient to resign from a public deployment,” said deputy secretary Phindile Kunene.

“It is equally wrong in the extreme to elevate an individual leader and pay allegiance to him at the expense of the unity and cohesion of our broader democratic movement,” she said.

YCL Gauteng secretary Alex Mashilo said Shilowa’s condemnation of Mbeki’s recall and resignation was a gross misconduct against the ANC.

“We are not calling for his head, but he should explain why he has behaved in that manner.”

“Unity is important. When constitutional structures make decisions, one has to abide by them,” Mashilo said.

Kunene said the YCL in Gauteng welcomed Shilowa’s resignation as he was a part of numerous projects that undermined the poor.

Kunene said the Igoli 2002 plan, Gautrain and Blue IQ projects did not favour the poor.

She said Shilowa had also failed to lessen the gap between private and public schools.

Mashilo, however, did not disclose who the YCL was backing to take over Shilowa’s position.

“We are convening a special provincial executive meeting to discuss our preferred candidate today [Wednesday] at 5pm,” he said.—Sapa

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