Vavi warns Cosatu is ready for mother of all battles

Zwelinzima Vavi. (Thuli Dlamini, Gallo)

Zwelinzima Vavi. (Thuli Dlamini, Gallo)

"The mother of all battles is coming this year against the e-tolls, the banning of labour brokers and corruption ... we are in so much trouble when it comes to the deep rot of corruption," Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi said in Johannesburg.

Vavi was addressing the Cosatu provincial shop stewards' council at the University of Johannesburg's Soweto campus.

The scale of corruption, where people were continuing to steal from the poor, was "frightening". He mentioned alleged corrupt activities such as the spending of over R200-million to upgrade President Jacob Zuma's home in Nkandla.

Another example, he said, was Communication Minister Dina Pule's lover, who allegedly raked in R6-million in four days for organising the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Indaba in June last year.

A third was the repossession of former Durban metro police officer Sbusiso Mpisane's nine luxury cars by the Asset Forfeiture Unit on Wednesday.

He said it was clear there were officials within the public works department who colluded with private companies to inflate prices and thus increase costs for Zuma's home upgrade.

Fighting challenges in 2012
​"Is this [the corruption] what the Lula Moment or second transition is about? I do not think so. We want to see what happened in Brazil during President [Luiz] Lula [da Silva's] term happen here, during this government's term."

The ANC was going to lose an even bigger chunk of support from South Africans unless it dealt with corruption, said Vavi.

Cosatu wanted better wages, appropriate macro-economic policies and the training of workers to develop skills. He called for workers to unite and leave behind the differences in leadership preferences that marred Cosatu last year.

"There were clashes of opinions and cliques ... 2012 was a difficult year, but now it is over. We need unity in 2013 to fight challenges at hand."

The reality was that new leadership for Cosatu, its affiliates and that of the ANC has been elected and it was time to move on and return to basics.

"The federation is not a political party or the ANC ... it is not the vanguard or the [SA Communist Party], it is a union federation. A union federation that does not do its work is something else, and not a workers' organisation." – Sapa

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