Speak out, says Vavi
Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has vowed to speak out about wrongs in society in the run-up to the ANC's elective conference in December.
"What I will not do is agree to be blackmailed and to keep quiet when things are going so wrong in society," he said in Johannesburg on Monday.
Addressing Gauteng shopstewards, he said he could not stay silent as some seemed to expect.
"I will not keep quiet. Sorry, if you want me to keep quiet, go and find another person... while Rome is burning."
He said the African National Congress's national conference in Mangaung in December offered two choices. The first involved factions so intent on fighting for positions in the leadership battle that they neglected their constituents.
"The movement will be far too divided to fight for a better life for all," Vavi said.
The second option was to deliver to the people.
"We must do everything we have promised our people.... deliver, deliver a better life, deliver, practice what you preach. Don't come to conferences and promise the masses the heaven and the earth, and do nothing thereafter. Go and unite the organisation."
Vavi said workers were not happy and were beginning to look for "new heroes" as the country reached a crossroads politically.
"Marikana is a full political statement. It says workers are not happy with these wages, their conditions of employment and they are now beginning to look for new heroes.
"And those are readily available... we have seen them running to Marikana already to say we are better than them."
He was referring to Lonmin's Marikana mine in North West, where 44 people had died in violence related to a wildcat strike.
Service delivery protests across the country showed that after 18 years of democracy, people were not prepared to wait any longer for a better life, Vavi said.
"And yet whilst we are at a crossroads, some of us, in particularly the leadership, do not see any crisis emerging."
Vavi criticised the ANC's slate system, which involved different factions drawing up lists of candidates for top leadership positions.
"The best brains who are in the wrong slate get marginalised because they are in the wrong slate."
The ANC leadership fight, and fight over slates ahead of Mangaung meant "we are going there [to Mangaung] so injured, it's a war, there is blood on the floor".
He pointed out that after Mangaung, there would only be a year and four months left to the next general elections.
"By the time we arrive in 2014, we will have so many people so injured who are limping who will not join the campaign to ensure that the ANC delivers."
Cosatu's national congress in Midrand, from September 17 to 20, would be important in "deciding what kind of ANC we are going to have in Mangaung".
Vavi said Cosatu members could choose slate politics, or change direction and ensure people experienced "economic freedom".
He called for Cosatu leaders and members to change their mindsets.
Referring to problems with hospitals, the delayed delivery of textbooks in Limpopo and the education crisis in the Eastern Cape, he said Cosatu was not good at fighting such battles.
"We allow others to take control... We have to get the mindset changed on the part of the leaders and the membership alike. We have to feel any form of injustice that is visited against any person in society... We can't say we can't fight these because it is our brothers in the ANC."
Cosatu, the African National Congress, and the SA Communist Party make up the tri-partite alliance.