SA Communist Party boss Blade Nzimande says Cosatu should not allow Zwelinzima Vavi’s sex scandal to distract the federation from its attempts to find unity.
The federation’s central executive committee suspended Vavi last week pending disciplinary proceedings for bringing Cosatu into disrepute.
This is after he admitted to having sex with a junior employee at the federation’s Johannesburg headquarters in January.
Nzimande told a Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) gathering in Benoni the federation was on the right track by embarking on a mediation facilitated by lawyer Charles Nupen and veteran unionist Petrus Mashishi – to look at the ideological and administrative issues facing the federation.
He said this discussion was good to address a number of problems, including Cosatu’s stance towards President Jacob Zuma’s government.
“We are concerned that the sex scandal may derail it because it may defocus from this process that Cosatu has. And that enemies of the federation may exploit this … No matter how Cosatu decides to deal with the sex issue, but it must not be derailed from dealing with the challenges inside itself,” he said.
Nzimande later told City Press on the sidelines of the event the Vavi scandal came at an “unfortunate time”, which explains why Vavi felt “it was being abused to fight different battles”.
However, he said it did not mean the SACP wanted to tell Cosatu how to deal with its internal issues.
Nzimande told Popcru delegates those who suggest the SACP wants to weaken Cosatu were merely resorting to apartheid tactics of invoking a “rooi gevaar”.
The leadership National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) has accused some ANC and SACP leaders of wanting to reduce Cosatu into a “toothless labour desk”, and have called for meeting in December with its membership to discuss whether or not it should remain an affiliate of the federation.
Although he did not mention Numsa by name, Nzimande warned against its threat that it will walk out of the alliance or review its support for the ANC.
“None of the Cosatu affiliates must even contemplate walking out of the federation. Those who do so or are planning to do so are part of the enemy to destroy our revolution. There can be no problem that is bigger than the unity of Cosatu … Cosatu is not for sale,” he said
Nzimande also urged workers to remain in Cosatu, saying their federation played an important role in swinging electoral support in the ANC’s favour in KwaZulu-Natal by recruiting IFP-aligned fellow workers.
“If you get out of the ANC as workers, you are selling out,” he said.
He said it was wrong to encourage union members to “swell the ranks of the ANC”, and yet discourage them from assuming positions of responsibility in both the party and government.
“Taking responsibility for our revolution means you take responsibility for both the good things and bad things, the advances as well as the weaknesses … we cannot only claim that we are part of the alliance when good things are happening. And when bad things are happening, we stand outside as if we are part of the opposition
“We resist this idea that to be outside government is to be clean, and to be inside is to be dirty,” he said.
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