Vavi says Mbeki asked for it

Ido Lekota

Ido Lekota

Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has put a challenge to the new ANC leadership to outgrow the divisions that marred the party in the build-up to the Polokwane conference and to prioritise improving the lives of ordinary South Africans.

Speaking to delegates at provincial congresses of both the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa and the South African Democratic Teachers Union, Vavi said the new leadership was faced with the challenge of inspiring confidence in itself and showing that it had a new agenda which would address the needs of the majority.

As the first step, Vavi called on the leadership "to launch a campaign to reverse and defeat some foreign traditions that were introduced into our movement in the period of divisions and in the run-up to Polokwane".

Vavi also called for the ending of patronage within the movement, saying it bred "sycophancy and kills internal democracy and organisational vibrancy".

The union leader also called for the development of a new culture "where deployment is strictly on the basis of a proven track record of efficiency, ability, and effectiveness of cadres and not on their membership of any faction or narrow loyalty to any leader".

Vavi was also critical of the raging and sometimes violent leadership squabbles in certain ANC regions and provinces, calling them a "public embarrassment".

He said the tripartite alliance leadership should also deal with the " growing uneasiness of some prominent individuals, intellectuals, clergy and minorities, even within the movement, voicing discontent about what they perceive to be a threat to our basic freedoms, questioning the moral standing of the current ANC and alliance leadership and painting a negative picture about the future".

Vavi blamed the recalling of former president Thabo Mbeki on the man himself. He said while others felt that Mbeki's loss to Zuma in Polokwane was an indication that people had lost confidence in him, Cosatu wanted him to be allowed to finish his term.

"But President Mbeki disarmed us throughout these past nine months. He was belligerent throughout. He sought to compete for space with the ANC and the new leadership," said Vavi.