Sadtu boss in hot water over info Bill

The knives are out for Thobile Ntola, the president of the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu), after he publicly denounced the ANC MPs’ endorsement of the Protection of State Information Bill.

Three senior Sadtu provincial leaders, who spoke anonymously, said lobbying was taking place for a motion of no confidence in Ntola at Sadtu’s national executive committee meeting in two weeks’ time.

Some in the alliance see Ntola’s remarks on the information Bill, which were in keeping with Cosatu’s position, as an indication that he has sided with those who oppose the re-election of Jacob Zuma as ANC ­president next year.

Ntola is closely linked to a faction within the alliance, which includes Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) general secretary Irvin Jim, who are pushing for leadership and policy change in the ANC.

Where their loyalties lie
The Ntola group is also believed to favour Jim to replace Vavi as Cosatu general secretary. However, Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke is said by union officials to support the faction — which includes South African Communist Party boss Blade Nzimande, Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini, National Union of Mineworkers general secretary Frans Baleni and National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union general secretary Fikile Majola — that supports the retention of the ANC leadership under Zuma.

Last week Vavi conceded that the ANC succession battle had divided Cosatu.

Some Sadtu leaders blame Ntola for coming out publicly against the information Bill, in spite of the fact that the union did not debate it at its national general council last weekend.

He said in his closing remarks that Sadtu did not support the Bill and there would be blood on the floor over it. “Our stance is clear … we’re not accepting the Bill. You can’t just [hide] information on corruption to protect leaders. There’s going to be blood on the floor,” said Ntola.

“If there’s a 99% majority that votes in favour [of the Bill] it does not mean that majority is right.”

A North West Sadtu leader who attended the NGC said that Ntola was deliberately misrepresenting Sadtu’s position on the Bill to serve the agenda of a particular faction in the alliance.


Blood on the floor
Another Sadtu leader, from Mpumalanga, said: “As Sadtu, we didn’t declare anything on that Bill, but he’s saying teachers’ blood will be on the floor. Whose position is that?”

Ntola was pushing the agenda of “the Vavis and the Jims, using Sadtu”, the leader said.

A member of Sadtu’s national executive committee said Ntola would be challenged at the next NEC meeting to explain why he had put across his position on the Bill as though it had the support of the NGC.

Ntola said he was not aware of moves to pass a motion of no confidence in him.

“There’s nothing like a motion of no confidence in Sadtu. Even when we had serious problems in the past, we never resorted to that,” he said.

“Anyway, the NEC is just a structure under the NGC. If this [passing of the motion of no confidence] was not done at the NGC, which is a higher structure in the union, it will never happen.”

Ntola also dismissed claims that he was pushing for leadership change in the ANC.

“Our job is to defend the Polokwane resolutions. Ensuring the stability of the organisation is critical. Our approach is to look at policies rather than leadership. We will enter the succession debate when the right time comes,” said Ntola, who last year lambasted Zuma and his leadership collective for failing to deliver services to the poor.

He said he was not worried about those who criticised his stance on the information Bill, as it was in line with Cosatu’s position.

“We [Cosatu and Sadtu] can’t be contradictory. What I said is the policy of Cosatu.”

Asked whether he was on good terms with Maluleke, he said: “I am on good terms with everyone. I spoke to him this morning.”

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Matuma Letsoala
Guest Author
Advertising

Two dead in new ANC KwaZulu-Natal killings

A Mtubatuba councillor and a Hammarsdale ANC Youth League leader were shot yesterday near their homes

Inside Facebook’s big bet on Africa

New undersea cables will massively increase bandwidth to the continent

No back to school for teachers just yet

Last week the basic education minister was adamant that teachers will return to school on May 25, but some provinces say not all Covid-19 measures are in place to prevent its spread

Engineering slips out of gear at varsity

Walter Sisulu University wants to reprioritise R178-million that it stands to give back to treasury after failing to spend it
Advertising

Press Releases

Road to recovery for the tourism sector: The South African perspective

The best-case scenario is that South Africa's tourism sector’s recovery will only begin in earnest towards the end of this year

What Africa can learn from Cuba in combating the Covid-19 pandemic

Africa should abandon the neoliberal path to be able to deal with Covid-19 and other health system challenges likely to emerge in future

Coexisting with Covid-19: Saving lives and the economy in India

A staggered exit from the lockdown accompanied by stepped-up testing to cover every district is necessary for India right now

Covid-19: Eased lockdown and rule of law Webinar

If you are arrested and fined in lockdown, you do get a criminal record if you pay the admission of guilt fine

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

Call for applications for the position of GCRO executive director

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory is seeking to appoint a high-calibre researcher and manager to be the executive director and to lead it

DriveRisk stays safe with high-tech thermal camera solution

Itec Evolve installed the screening device within a few days to help the driver behaviour company become compliant with health and safety regulations