The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has come out guns blazing, criticising President Jacob Zuma’s statement that there was no existing policy in the African National Congress (ANC) that only allowed a deputy president to succeed the president.
In a statement, the trade union federation said although it agreed that there was no policy, it found the president’s argument against a tradition that has been in existence since 1990 “curious”.
The president should have spoken out against the tradition back in 2007 when “millions of ANC and Alliance members”, including general supporters, used the tradition to elevate him to the position he currently holds, says the union.
“We find it insincere that he never spoke out then and he never saw anything wrong with that argument at the time.”
The union has further rejected Zuma’s argument that former ANC presidents OR Tambo, Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki’s succession by a deputy president was an “an accident of history”.
“It is very dangerous for leaders to play too cute with the traditions and principles that have united and served the movement and stood the test of time for short-term gains and narrow political interest.”
Cosatu says the inconsistent series of arguments by ANC leaders that are meant to malign those regarded as opponents and glorify others should cease. It is these arguments that have left the ruling party’s “political neck in the hangman’s noose”, says the union.
“Unless the movement abandons this unsettling tendency of treating disagreements as warfare, we can forget about achieving the much-needed unity and the 2019 election.”
In a series of interviews with SABC radio stations this week, the president said there was no existing policy in the ruling party that said a deputy president should be the one to succeed a president.