Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi questioned his own lifestyle at the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) national political commission on Thursday.
Waving his hand at the silver Audi A7 TDI which had driven him to the meeting, he said: “Look at that car outside. Look at the laptops and the iPads when we go to Parliament, and look at what we are wearing.
“Check where we are staying. And then look at the conditions of the working class South African of today. Look at the taxis they ride in … how they stand eight hours in a queue at a hospital for a Panado.”
He said when political consciousness disappeared, it left silently.
“When dictatorship comes, there will be no drum majorettes in the street.”
He stopped his speech several times, to indicate he could not speak as freely as he would have liked with the media present. At one point he interrupted himself to say: “And I”m not saying this is a dictatorship.”
He wanted to know “what is going on?” when union administrators left at 4pm, after checking their nails and spraying perfume, then rushed home to the suburbs to watch the soap opera, the Bold and the Beautiful.
He also could not understand on whose behalf some leaders thought they were sipping champagne for.
The ANC and unions needed to have a private debate, but not in front of the media, on the future of the movement that brought liberation to South Africa. He warned 2012 would be a troublesome year in South African politics.
“Let’s face it comrades, the reason why we are anticipating to have such a troubled year in 2012 is because the conscience is going fast, fast, fast. The biggest challenge we are going to be facing is how do we stop the organisation from descending into a morass of corruption and eventually irrelevance.”
The ANC would elect its new leadership at a conference in December. Cosatu had already resolved that the leadership collective that was formed in 2007 at Polokwane should not be broken, and that resolutions taken there should be built on, Vavi said. — Sapa