Summit crunch

THE three-day summit of the ANC-led alliance comes at a time when the leftists in the ruling party are on the back foot.

THE three-day summit of the ANC-led alliance comes at a time when the leftists in the ruling party are on the back foot.

With the ANC being the only ruling party in the world to house African nationalists, trade unionists, communists, liberals and other political ideologues under one roof, the battles between the various forces have become a daily issue.

At times, with African traditionalists flexing their muscles, you would be forgiven for mistaking an ANC branch meeting for an Inkatha Freedom Party gathering.

The situation has become even more complex under President Jacob Zuma - who is seen as allowing the likes of Cosatu and the SACP more space to ventilate than was previously the case with his predecessor Thabo Mbeki.

The forces will gather again for the alliance summit this weekend, with the East Rand's Esselen Park as the battleground.

Expected to top the agenda is the political storm around National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel, whom Cosatu has described as using his position to elevate himself to being the de facto prime minister.

Also on the agenda is the review of South Africa's response to the global economic crisis, the upheavals in ANC-led municipalities and the very nature of the alliance itself.

Zuma and ANC general secretary Gwede Mantashe will lead thedelegation from Luthuli House, while SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande will lead the modern-day upwardly mobile communists to the summit.

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi is expected to lead the onslaught against Manuel.

But, Vavi will lead a wounded delegation that has suffered several losses against the "nationalists" in the alliance.

The nationalists, on the other hand, are going to the summit with their tails up.

This after successfully rejecting Cosatu's position that Manuel was using his position to create "kitchen cabinets" inside Zuma's kraal.

Closing Cosatu's national general congress in September, Vavi charged: "We are opposed to the fragmentation of the state through the building of fiefdoms or kitchen cabinets within the state.

"For that reason, we call for the withdrawal of the green paper on strategic planning.

"We object to the marginalisation of the alliance and other key ministries in shaping this policy intervention prior to itspublic release."

This week the ANC backed Manuel as the minister to head the National Planning Commission.

In an interview this week, Vavi indicated that the nationalists, who endorsed Manuel as chairperson of the commission, might have won a battle but the war was still on.

The war cry being, "Siyohlangan eEsselen Park".

The labour federation might have suffered some losses in the battle with Manuel, but it has also notched some successes in Zuma'sgovernment.

These include the appointment of Sactwu's former general secretary Ebrahim Patel as Minister of Economic Development.

Zuma has also winked at Cosatu's suggestion that he should rule until 2017.

Cosatu also cowed the Zuma government into approving double-digit salary increases for public servants despite the raging global economic crisis.

It was these early victories that probably made the trade union federation think it could be the tail that wags the dog.