|February 28, 2008
Cosatu warns ANC
The Congress of South African Trade Union (Cosatu) has vowed to be vigilant to defend what it calls post-Polokwane gains. The federation says there has been a temptation on its part to be carried away by the work of the new leadership. Sources said that the new ANC-leader Jacob Zuma was summoned to Cosatu House to explain his comments in an interview in the Financial Mail, in which he made the case for uplifting South Africa's "second economy", asking "is it not possible to have the flexibility so that you can address both the first and second economy?"
Cosatu stressed it would no longer take a "triumphalist" approach to the outcomes of the ANC's Polokwane conference. Speaking at a press briefing after the federation's first Central Executive Committee meeting general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said: "In the first two months after Polokwane, Cosatu and the SACP [SA Communist Party] committed a mistake of celebrating and admiring the sterling work of the new ANC leadership... This was a mistake." "When that leadership makes mistakes and make statements that have a potential of reversing the gains of Polokwane, Cosatu must speak out! We must not drop our guard," Vavi said. He added that the honeymoon period between the election of Cosatu's preferred ANC candidate, Jacob Zuma, and the federation was over. "The campaign to save the ANC from the clutches of the technocrats who sought to bureaucratise the liberation movement is far from being over." Vavi also slammed what he termed the "right-wing backlash" seeking to divide the ANC leadership at Luthuli House and the Union Buildings. Cosatu also said it sought to ensure that the future "cabinet, the Presidency, premiers, mayors, and strategic staff such as DGs (directors-general)" were loyal to the agenda of the working class.
Referring to the Democratic Alliance urging President Thabo Mbeki to ignore the directives of the Polokwane conference, Vavi said it was clear that this response was out of fear of a "radical shift in the policy direction of our society". This, he added, demonstrated that the "privileged" would do "everything to protect their interests".
(Sapa / Business Day, Johannesburg)