The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi on Tuesday promised it would “fumigate” the ANC in the run up to the ruling party’s elective conference in Mangaung in 2012.
In a reference to the ANC’s unbanning in 1990, Vavi implied that while “fresh air” was let in when the “window was opened”, other undesirable elements infiltrated the party.
“There a number of blue flies and mosquitoes inside the house who are making life unbearable. We need a good Doom to fumigate our house of these undesirables,” Vavi said.
This is the clearest sign yet that 2012 promises extensive political squabbling within the tripartite alliance, ahead of the December elective conference.
Delivering Cosatu’s end of year statement in Johannesburg, Vavi maintained those needing to be removed from the ruling party “have no business in the ANC”.
“They are the ones who could not care less about the problems of the masses. They are only interested in government positions and tenders,” he said.
Vavi added that while the ANC was “entrenched” in the hearts of many South Africans, it must deal with the problems associated with being an “incumbent”.
The union movement would not specify who they would be targeting in 2012, but Vavi was quick to dispel thoughts they would be targeting President Jacob Zuma.
“We have always had a very frank and honest relationship with President Zuma and his government. We are very critical of the president when we need to be and at least he listens,” Vavi added.
This is difficult to interpret as support, tacit or otherwise, for Zuma who is facing a bruising political battle in 2012 to secure his re-election as president of the ANC and ultimately a second term as head of state.
ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema is leading the call for Zuma to be replaced by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe at next year’s conference.
Cassel Mathale’s re-election as ANC regional chairperson in Limpopo over the weekend has been interpreted as the first sign of Zuma’s vulnerability, but it is too early to make any meaningful predictions of his actual political strength heading into next year.
But Vavi has made Cosatu’s intentions clear that they refuse to allow the ANC to be “hijacked”.
“The faint-hearted left the house over the years but we won’t leave our home to mosquitoes and flies,” he said.
The ANC refused to respond to Cosatu’s assertions the ruling party needs to be cleansed, saying they should use “appropriate structures” to raise their concerns.
“If they have any input to make they should do so within the alliance, we won’t be drawn into a debate in the media,” ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza told the Mail & Guardian.
Moving from the political to the economic arena, Cosatu decried the “continued inequality” in South African society.
It highlighted the findings from a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report, which found that 60% of South Africans employed in the formal sector earn less than R2 500 a month.
To this effect, Cosatu is planning a “national demonstration” in February 2012 against labour broking and wage inequality.
“We will not take lectures about ‘excessive’ wage settlements from the bosses who earn millions of rand a year. We will be campaigning strongly against any proposed attack on workers’ rights,” he said.
The labour federation also reinforced their calls for a boycott of the planned introduction of toll fees along Gauteng’s highways.
Vavi says Cosatu will “formally declare war” on the system next year and encourage all motorists to refrain from paying the fees to use the roads — regardless of the consequences.
“Our roads are a public asset and not a commodity to create massive profits for overseas shareholders. They will have to arrest us all and prepare to overcrowd all of the prisons in Gauteng,” said Vavi.