Cosatu refrains from ANC succession debate - for now

It appears that a faction aligned to President Jacob Zuma in Cosatu enjoys the upper hand after the federation’s central executive committee meeting this week shot down metalworkers’ union Numsa’s recent call for ANC leadership changes.

On Thursday Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi confirmed that the committee had discussed Numsa’s controversial call to remove the ANC’s national executive committee, but it appeared the suggestion failed to get support from the majority of Cosatu leaders.

Instead, Cosatu leaders attending the meeting resolved not to discuss the ANC succession debate until the party did so. Cosatu leaders also took a softer stance on the issue of the nationalisation of mines when it decided to first discuss the matter with the ANC. Last week Numsa announced it had rejected the conclusion of the ANC research team, which ruled out nationalisation as an option.

The ANC succession debate has divided Cosatu, with one faction, led by Vavi and Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim, pushing for leadership change in the ANC, whereas the other faction, led by Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini, National Union of Mineworkers’ general secretary Frans Baleni and Nehawu general secretary Fikile Majola, supports the re-election of Zuma as ANC president.

The ANC’s two warring factions are trying to woo the trade federation to their corners, but it appears that, unlike in 2007 when most of Cosatu backed Zuma, the trade ­federation is split in half.

Vavi told journalists that Cosatu leaders took a decision to discourage any of the Cosatu affiliates from entering into an ANC succession debate now.

“We discourage any premature discussion on the succession debate, because it distracts us from the primary political tasks of taking forward our transformation mandate,” Vavi said.
“We agreed that Cosatu’s actions, politically and organisationally, must at all times be informed by the material conditions of workers and rejected unacceptable emerging signs of divisions inside the federation.”

Vavi called on all members of the alliance to step up the battle against factionalism, disunity and corruption, which, if not stopped, would destroy the democratic traditions of “our movement and lead to paralysis and disunity”.

“The central executive committee was encouraged to note that the ANC itself recognises these dangers ... Our starting point must be to recognise that the potential degeneration of our movement cannot be divorced from its contamination with a deadly virus from the world of capitalism, where the culture of individual self-enrichment and ‘me-first’ is endemic.
“This virus is spreading fast from the private sector into the public ­service as businesses are set up to corruptly obtain tenders from the state, some of them run by public representatives themselves, or members of their families.”

Vavi added: “Our overriding policy must be to re-establish within the ANC and its allies the traditional values of the revolutionary movement - service to the people with no expectation of material reward - and strive to instil those same ­values in government and broader society.”

Vavi said the ANC and the government needed to establish a climate in which those caught with their hands in the till would voluntarily resign, shamed by the weight of public disapproval, rather than defiantly remain in office.

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