Vavi: Forget ANC succession, focus on the poor

"We hope that your movement [ANC], will be inspired by us. Those who have ambitions [to be elected as ANC leaders], please hold on. We can't afford to fight all the time," the Congress of the South African Trade Union general secretary said on Tuesday.

"The worst thing that can happen to the ANC is if everyone goes to [the party's elective conference in Mangaung in December] and sings different songs. What is the use for us to go to Mangaung and fight, but come back without a programme? We [Cosatu] avoided the fight," said Vavi, who was re-elected together with the other top five officials of Cosatu on Monday.

Attempts by President Jacob Zuma's supporters in Cosatu to oust Vavi as general secretary failed, after the majority of delegates rejected the plan.

Vavi's constant criticism of the ANC leaders and government has irritated many in the alliance.

While he steered clear from endorsing any ANC leader, Vavi's call for ANC members to take inspiration from the Cosatu congress, could be interpreted by many to mean that Zuma and other top ANC officials should be retained.

Delivering his political and socio-economic reports to the 3 000 delegates at Gallagher Estate on Tuesday, Vavi also cautioned the federation not to enter into the ANC succession debate. Instead, he encouraged members to assess the current ANC leadership collective elected in Polokwane so that they could be in a better position to influence ANC branches when the party's nomination process opens in December.

"It is premature to engage in the succession debate now. Assess leadership at the right time. The ANC has told us what the right time is," said Vavi.

Swell the ranks
He urged Cosatu members to swell the ranks of the ANC from local, provincial and national level in order to influence the policy direction of the ANC and government.

"[Now] We [Cosatu] can't dictate to the ANC because we are not strong. As a result, we hug stinking hyenas as we did in 2007. We can't afford to have the ANC NEC [National Executive Committee], without unions and civil society. We must not put people [in the ANC NEC] who will want to be in Cabinet. We want the NEC that will reflect the interest of the working class. We don't need people who like money and positions," said Vavi, to rapturous applause.

He said Cosatu would make sure that it pushed for a policy that forbid worker leaders and public representative from doing business with government.

"We must avoid leaders who are conflicted in business. If a leader is leading workers, or government, don't allow them to be in business. Their families must not do business with the government. Don't allow your family to do business with government. This is what we need to take to Mangaung," said Vavi.

He said Cosatu would continue to support the government but not without being critical. "We shall by all time engage the ANC on our concerns."

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