Stooges tend to shock even their own handlers: iLIVE

13 December 2012 - 17:37 By Lazola Ndamase, Cosatu Education Secretary
Zwelinzima Vavi. File photo.
Zwelinzima Vavi. File photo.

I really feel for comrade Vavi, apart from sitting at the head of a mighty Federation of workers he has become a soft target for political yap-dogs who would have to jump high to reach his ankles but have the temerity not only to bark but empty their spleen at him.

The recent outbursts by Mdu Manana are part of this long list.

This is not unexpected from comrade Manana who had been an ardent follower of Julius Malema until Malema fell out of grace and he had to look for a new handler. I am sure even his new handlers were rather embarrassed about this outburst at Vavi but anyway, some say stooges tend to shock their handlers. That is their role. They need to say things that the handler will never say.

An old English saying goes: “Dogs do not bark at stationery vehicles but at those that are moving”. Thus, if the vehicle is moving, listen to the dogs. This means not only is COSATU working but it means contradictions between the poor and the chattering classes in South Africa are sharpening at a faster pace than ever expected.

Not only have the ridiculous levels of inequality in our country produced a Marikana but they have resulted in ferocious struggles in the farms, causing capitalist apologists such as Mdu Manana to suffer from so much paranoia such that they analyze everything that passes by and label it a conspirator.

Manana must relax, Vavi is not being hysterical but it is the problems that beset our society that actually scream louder than him. For instance year in and year out a whopping 400 000 young people do not proceed with their studies after writing their matriculation exams and thus join the millions of the unemployed who sit at home watching the sun-rise and set without any prospects of their life moving forward.

So whilst Mpumalanga can point to the colossus of Mbombela stadium towering over Nelspruit overshadowing any previous sign of architectural genius, it does not have a single university it can point to. This is where our problems lie. Whilst we were overzealous to please FIFA, we do not have the same zeal to please ourselves by satisfying our own basic needs, such as education. This has been COSATU’s point all along.

No wonder the expanded unemployment rate this year is hovering at a whopping 37%. Added to this is the fact that 22.5 million South Africans live on less than R10 a day which is almost the price of bread which stood at R7.50 in 2010. But despite this sea of poverty and unemployment a group of businessmen are sitting on 3 trillion Rands they made out of our economy but now have the temerity to refuse to invest it in the same economy. Our government is powerless to do anything about this.

Racialised inequality is still the order of the day in our country where whites earn 8 times what Africans earn, where it is estimated that an African male earns an average of R2 400 whilst a white male earns R19 000. 

The levels of corruption in our country are sky-high. Barely a day goes by without some newspaper somewhere reporting that someone was trying to steal money. Be it in a national department or in some lowly municipality. By the way corruption in South Africa is not a product of the ANC but its main architect is apartheid. Thus an attack on corruption is not an attack on the ANC let alone President Zuma but it is an attack on the system that produces it and also on those who are corrupt: Pure and simple.

COSATU must never stop in calling for businessmen-cum politicians like Tokyo Sexwale and Mdu Manana to choose either to serve the public and leave business or to serve themselves and leave public institutions alone. This double parking is a cause for many of the problems that we have.

Therefore the problem in our country is not Vavi’s noise but it is actually the fact that he is slowly becoming a lonely voice. In fact had Vavi not been making the noise he does, with the radicalism of workers that we saw in the Mining industry in the past months he would have long been kicked out at COSATU as a sellout. So what we need is not less noise but is more of it coming from all fronts directed not only at the capitalist class but the capitalist state as well.

So therefore, rather than direct his venom at Vavi, Mdu Manana should focus his energies at ensuring that the plan by his Department to build Universities in Mpumalanga and Northern Cape is speedily implemented. He must stop throwing hand-grenades at an imaginary enemy like Vavi with the hope that he can divert our attention to the real issues that face us.

Lazola Ndamase is COSATU Education Secretary