Monday, June 27, 2011

South African President Zuma Rebukes COSATU Leader Vavi for Breaking Ranks

Zuma rebukes Vavi for breaking ranks


President Jacob Zuma on Monday launched a veiled attack on Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and other alliance leaders for continually criticising the ANC and government in public.

Zuma, whose leadership style has come under intense pressure in the past few months from the ANC's alliance partners -- particularly Cosatu, also warned delegates attending the labour federation's central committee at Gallagher Estate, not to interfere in ANC matters by discussing the party's succession plan ahead of its elective conference next year.

Cosatu has in the past few months complained about poor service delivery and increasing number of corruption cases in Zuma's government.

Vavi, together with other leaders within Cosatu, is pushing for a debate on ANC leadership, which could result in the federation not backing Zuma for re-election during the ANC conference in 2012. Cosatu played a key role in the election of Zuma as ANC president in 2007.

However, many within the federation have been unimpressed with Zuma's performance since he took over as president of the country in 2009.

Vavi is expected to present a hard-hitting report to the central committee this week, in which he questions Zuma's indecisiveness on policy and corruption issues.

Cosatu leaders are also expected to raise concerns regarding lucrative business deals involving Zuma's family and the Gupta family.

On Monday Zuma, who was given a lukewarm reception by the Cosatu delegates, made it clear he was not happy with the criticism levelled against him, the ANC and government.

"One of the challenges we are dealing with is the disappearance of respect and discipline within the organisation," he said. "Our culture has been to engage in dialogue in meetings among ourselves and convince one another on what we believe is the correct thing to do. We seem to be closing that space and have introduced a new culture of exchanging views within our organisations, and with the comrades who hold those views."

There was a tendency within the alliance of debating through the media issues that historically would have been discussed internally first.

"This may look good for us as individuals and put us in a particular standing in society and in the views of many, but organisationally, it erodes the standing of the organisation and the entire alliance," Zuma said.

"Without realising it, we introduce some debates prematurely before we have discussed them among ourselves and it creates a space for more disagreement in public on matters that could have discussed and agreed on internally and give leadership on as a united voice. We create this culture without realising we are undermining ourselves," said Zuma.

Zuma's views on Vavi and other alliance leaders are supported by some leaders within Cosatu, including its president Sdumo Dlamini and the general secretary of Cosatu's mining union [NUM], Frans Baleni.

Earlier in the day, Dlamini -- who has become a close ally of Zuma -- discouraged delegates from discussing ANC leadership at the central committee -- a move which is likely to put him on a collision course with Vavi and Irvin Jim, the general secretary of Cosatu's metalworkers' union. Vavi and Jim are believed to be behind the push for debates on ANC leadership.

"We must respect the ANC's request [not to discuss the succession]," said Dlamini.

He said that in the lead-up to Polokwane Cosatu went out of its way to discuss ANC leadership because of the conditions at the time.

"There were guidelines then," said Dlamini, "and we delivered the current leadership, under Jacob Zuma. We agreed to support this leadership. Now, we need to check if we are faced with similar conditions as those in 2007. When we do assessment, we must check prevailing circumstances."

Vavi is also expected to receive a lashing from the South African Communist Party secretary general Blade Nzimande, when he addresses the central committee on Tuesday.

Vavi and some leaders within Cosatu have been at loggerheads with SACP leaders after Cosatu publicly questioned Nzimande's dual role as SACP boss and Higher Education minister. The federation believe Nzimande's appointment has weakened the communist party and has demanded that he should return to the SACP position on a full time basis. -- AFP

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
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