Nzimande warns unions

FILE PICTURE: Blade Nzimande. Picture: GCIS.

FILE PICTURE: Blade Nzimande. Picture: GCIS.

Any trade union thinking of leaving Cosatu will first have to deal with the SA Communist Party, SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande said on Thursday.

“If some [union] leaders think that they are going to take certain affiliates out of Cosatu then they will find the communist party first,” he said in Benoni on the East Rand.

“Those who are threatening to walk out, they will first have to open this red door.”

Nzimande was addressing Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union members at their second national political school.

He said affiliates of the Congress of SA Trade Unions should not contemplate leaving the federation.

“Those who are planning to do so, they are part of the enemy that wants to destroy our revolution. There can be no problem that is bigger than the unity of Cosatu.”

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA recently expressed its lack of confidence in Cosatu president Sidumo Dlamini following the suspension of general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. It reportedly said it would consider leaving Cosatu.

Cosatu announced last Thursday that Vavi had been put on special leave pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing into an affair he had with a junior Cosatu employee.

Last month, the woman accused Vavi of rape. He admitted to having a consensual affair with her. She subsequently withdrew a sexual harassment complaint against him.

Nzimande said the SACP was concerned the “sex scandal” could derail Cosatu affiliates. He said Cosatu’s enemies could exploit it to cause divisions.

“It [Cosatu] must not be derailed from dealing with the challenges inside itself.”

He said problems in Cosatu could not be reduced to “personalities, names and conspiracies”.

The “liberal idea” that the state was inherently bad and constantly had to be criticised had to be resisted.

“That is why in our universities and the media, in order to prove that we are truly independent, we must attack the government and the ANC. Then you will get kudos.

“Most of us here campaigned for this government in 2009. So this is our government, no matter what problems it has, it is your government.”

Nzimande said the alliance should be careful of condoning the view that trade unions belonged to civil society, which was good, and political parties to the state, which was bad.

“There is [lobby group] AfriForum in civil society, but it is good,” he joked.

Nzimande said the shootings at Lonmin’s Marikana mine last year was being “turned into an offensive against our own government”.

“We are concerned that the Farlam Commission seems now to be almost turned into a court of law. We are concerned that the lawyers that are crying for more money are the ones who have been dragging the commission [on]. Some of them are not there for genuine reasons… it is money making.”

On Monday, the Constitutional Court dismissed an application to compel the State to fund the legal costs of miners wounded and arrested in the shootings. The legal costs relate to the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, which is investigating the deaths of 44 people during strike-related unrest at Lonmin’s platinum mining operations in Marikana, North West, last year.

Nzimande said a precedent would be set if the State paid the legal fees.

“In future, we will pay millions of rands just so that we can enrich some lawyers. No, thank you very much.”

He rejected the idea that the instability in the platinum mining belt was because of problems between the National Union of Mineworkers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.

“The blame on Marikana must squarely rest with the [mine] bosses,” he said.

Nzimande said mine owners were destabilising the collective bargaining system in the sector so they could retrench workers.

“When the bosses were eating, taking lots of minerals overseas, they were eating alone. Now when it’s lean times they want to retrench workers.”

He said there was a “dangerous trend” emerging in Cosatu of unions organising in other unions’ terrain.

Nzimande said certain “comrades” who said their enemy was monopoly capital spent 95 percent of their pronouncements attacking other union affiliates, the SACP, and government.

“We are not going to lie down while they attempt to steal workers out of… [the] movement,” he said.

Nzimande said Cosatu was an asset for the tripartite alliance and was part of “swinging” control of KwaZulu-Natal from the Inkatha Freedom Party to the ANC.



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