Cosatu unable to meet Motlanthe over Mangaung

28 November 2012 - 17:46 By Sapa

Cosatu has been unable to meet Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe to discuss the position he intends standing for in Mangaung, General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said on Wednesday.

"We have not had the opportunity to have a discussion with the deputy president of the ANC and the [Cosatu] central executive committee (CEC) is not happy about that," he told reporters in Johannesburg after a CEC meeting.

"The CEC felt that such a discussion should have taken place well before where we are."

He said the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) had pushed for a meeting, but had not been successful.

Cosatu previously said it wanted President Jacob Zuma and Motlanthe to retain their positions at the party's national elective conference in Mangaung next month.

Vavi warned on Wednesday that removing Motlanthe from the ANC's top six would have a negative affect on the party.

"Such attempts to remove the deputy president will have long-term implications for unity in the ANC beyond the Mangaung conference."

Vavi said Cosatu was also debating the nominations of Cosatu leaders to the ANC NEC.

Vavi, Cosatu President Sidumo Dlamini, and its second Deputy President Zingiswa Losi have been nominated by ANC branches for NEC positions.

Vavi said the nominations had spurred debate about whether it was "tactically correct" to have three of Cosatu's "top six" leaders in the ANC NEC.

"Or will it go too far in terms of undermining the independence of Cosatu?" Vavi asked.

He said it could confuse his role as "chief spokesperson" for Cosatu to serve in the ANC's underlying structures.

"That may have complications in terms of articulating and there is identification of who speaks."

Vavi said Cosatu was in agreement that the NEC needed more active union members, as opposed to "former" unionists.

He defended Cosatu from criticism that it should not involve itself in the affairs of its alliance partner.

"We have made this absolutely clear; Cosatu has no right to nominate ANC leaders, [but] Cosatu has the right to influence what happens in the ANC."

He said the ANC had had an interest in Cosatu's elective conference, though "perhaps we will go more boldly than they do".

Debate about Mangaung was a source of worry for Cosatu, because the CEC was concerned that too much talk of politicking would alienate Cosatu's rank and file.

"If you talk about political issues only, there is a perception by workers that the trade federation has abandoned workers completely," Vavi said.