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Sunday Times STLive By SIBUSISO NGALWA, 2012-03-25

'Power-drunk' leaders won't break up ANC

Mathews Phosa.
Image: SIMON MATHEBULA

THE SA Communist Party and Cosatu will never determine the leadership of the ANC - this is something only the branches of the ruling party can do.

This is according to ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa, who said that no leader, regardless of how "power-drunk" he was, could break up the ANC-led tripartite alliance.

"We only serve at the mercy of branches," he said.

"There is no one, either in Cosatu or the SACP, who will determine the leadership of the ANC - it's only the ANC branches that will do so.

"The rest ... are fooling themselves and exaggerating their importance."

Phosa's comments came after a threat by the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) to "remove" the ANC national executive committee for being unfriendly to workers.

Phosa said: "My belief is that the alliance has a long future ... no single individual, no matter how power-drunk they think they are, can destroy the alliance now ...

"Because our membership overlaps, they won't allow lone rangers. The members won't allow the alliance to be destroyed. That is why the gravi-tation [from Cosatu is towards] swelling the ranks of the ANC, because they want to defend the ANC ... Everybody is saying, 'I'm a better defender of the ANC than you.'"

Despite his claim, relations between Cosatu and the ANC are strained over the government's refusal to ban labour brokers and scrap the Gauteng highway e-tolling system.

Phosa said that while criticism by alliance partners was welcomed, it needed to be better managed to avoid public spats among leaders.

Phosa, who in 2010 represented ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema in a disciplinary hearing brought against him by the ANC, denied he had a personal relationship with the youth organisation.

He further denied that representing Malema meant he had differences with President Jacob Zuma and other senior ANC leaders.

He said Malema had asked that he represent him, "which, in terms of the ANC constitution, I'm entitled to do ... Someone does not like it. Why does that suggest we are divided?"

He said the media claimed there was division among the ANC's top six leaders, but "I have no ideological differences with anyone in the top six ... zero. I don't think any of them have any ideological differences."

On the issue of corruption, he said the ANC should be tough on graft, regardless of who was involved.

"We must be seen to be acting against our best when they are at their worst."

Favouritism "creates problems" because people believed "you can't trust them when they are dealing with corruption ... they will deal with some and not others".

However, he defended Zuma's government on the issue of corruption, saying the president had fired "so many ministers".

"There is no other president before him who did so. He had the courage to dismiss so many ministers."

However, no matter how much had been done against graft, "as long as corruption raises its ugly head, we must deal with it".

He said service delivery should be at the centre of the ANC's programme.

"This should be a centenary of service delivery. Economic freedom should be the centre of this centenary so that we don't say that we are free when there's no bread on the table; when there are no jobs; when rural areas are not developed; when there is no bulk infrastructure in the rural areas."