Personality cults destroying Cosatu

FILE PICTURE: ANC Secretary General, Gwede Mantashe. Picture: Neil McCartney

FILE PICTURE: ANC Secretary General, Gwede Mantashe. Picture: Neil McCartney

In light of the deepening squabbles that are likely to rip Cosatu apart, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe called for unity among the labour federation’s bigwigs.

If peace can’t be restored, he said, the federation would soon face a drastic political demise.

Cosatu is divided between the supporters of the labour federation’s beleagured secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi and the federation’s president Sdumo Dlamini.

Speaking at the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union’s (Popcru) political school in Benoni yesterday, Mantashe warned that the development of personality cults and ignoring the federation’s founding principles are going to kill Cosatu.

“When you begin to worship individuals you are going to kill the federation. Moving away from Cosatu’s principles and creating cults around individual leaders would destroy union in the labour federation.

“Others belong to Vavi and others to Sdumo. Weak trade unions are an opportunity for the employer who always benefits. Once you close your eyes to those fundamental principles you are going to see the battles that are running now,” he said.

Independent political analyst Ralph Mathekga agreed with Mantashe, saying the national leadership of the labour federation had collapsed. “Cosatu can’t deal with anything without associating it with an individual. For example, the e-tolling campaign had been associated with Vavi.”

Mantashe said if it was not for the divisions in the labour federation Cosatu would have had at least ten people in the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) instead of four. “Those leaders are leaders of the ANC in their own right. They should be in the NEC in their own right. They are not there as the Cosatu faction in the ANC,” he said.

Mantashe also lashed out at the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), which supports Vavi, saying deserting the ANC will make it a conservative party.

“I hear some of you say you will meet at some point and assess your support for the ANC. You are gambling with the revolution.

“You have made an assumption that if you decide to leave the ANC, the ANC will become static. You will have an ANC that will grow more and more conservative and once it is more conservative it will be brutal on the working class.”


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