Cosatu asks workers to identify new ANC boss

Waghied Misbach

Waghied Misbach

In a dramatic break from tradition Cosatu's leadership is calling on workers to identify who the new ANC president should be.

This at a time while a succession battle rages between African National Congress deputy president Jacob Zuma and his boss President Thabo Mbeki.

The call for nominations from within Cosatu structures comes after the union federation's central executive committee meeting last week.

The decision by Cosatu leaders also comes after ANC's Eastern Cape leaders expressed support for Mbeki as party leader for a third term.

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, a well-known Zuma supporter, said at the weekend that the major criteria for the top ANC spot was that the leader should be pro-poor and pro-working class.

Cosatu has been critical of what it perceives to be the Mbeki government's pro-business economic policies.

"Zuma's name will come up. He has been a friend of the workers and his style allows the alliance to gel better," Vavi told TheWeekender newspaper.

He was responding to questions about whether Cosatu has ditched Zuma in the presidential succession race.

"The discussion is now open," Vavi said.

"We have called on people to identify ANC leaders who are supportive of the working class, and we will lobby for them within ANC structures,"

The succession battle forms part of an entire strategy to get Cosatu leaders on to the highest decision-making body of the ANC - its national executive committee. (NEC)

Cosatu wants to set up a quota system so that its members can serve on the NEC.

The leaders of the 1,3 million-strong federation are also set to release documents that look critically at the ANC's draft policy proposals, to be be discussed at the ANC June policy conference.

Cosatu leaders will also be calling for a top-level meeting with the ANC leadership before the June policy conference to air their grievances.

Vavi said the Cosatu leadership had concluded that the benefits of economic transformation had gone to business and not labour in the first decade of freedom.

Meanwhile, Mbeki is reported to have said that Zuma himself did not believe there was a conspiracy preventing him from becoming president of the ANC and of country.

The Sunday Times, quoting "highly-placed ANC officials", reported that Mbeki made this claim during a seven-hour meeting with the ANC's KwaZulu- Natal leadership last Monday.

The meeting followed a Sunday Times report detailing how certain ANC leaders had plotted to shut Mbeki out of the province.

Mbeki reportedly made the comments after Zuma left the meeting.

Mbeki claims that Zuma told him this in private talks between the two men.