Crowd boos lead­ers of ANC at Cosatu rally

CityPress - - News - PADDY HARPER paddy.harper@city­press.co.za

ANC and al­liance lead­ers yes­ter­day used labour fed­er­a­tion Cosatu’s 30th an­niver­sary at Dur­ban’s Cur­ries Foun­tain sta­dium to rally around for­mer pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela’s legacy and de­fend him against claims by the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fighters (EFF) that he was a sell­out. ANC deputy pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, SA Com­mu­nity Party (SACP) sec­re­tary-gen­eral Blade Nz­i­mande and Cosatu pres­i­dent Sdumo Dlamini all lashed out at EFF leader Julius Malema at­tach­ing a “sell­out” tag to demo­cratic South Africa’s found­ing pres­i­dent dur­ing a speak­ing tour abroad. Yes­ter­day marked the sec­ond an­niver­sary of Man­dela’s death.

Dlamini, the key­note speaker at the an­niver­sary event, which was at­tended by sev­eral thou­sand peo­ple, called on Malema to apol­o­gise for the com­ment, which he de­scribed as a “life­long mis­take”.

“Shame on these chil­dren that do not re­spect the el­ders,” said Dlamini. “Shame on these chil­dren that can un­der­mine all of us in this coun­try and call him [Man­dela] a sell­out. Shame on you, Julius. You can’t spin this. You must apol­o­gise … You have com­mit­ted a life­long mis­take.”

At­tack­ing the for­mer ANC Youth League pres­i­dent over his lav­ish life­style, Dlamini said that, un­like Malema, Man­dela had not lived large.

“Nel­son Man­dela never led a march and took a he­li­copter to Mau­ri­tius to en­joy a wed­ding. Nel­son Man­dela never de­mol­ished a R3 mil­lion house and re­built it,” Dlamini said.

Dlamini com­pared Man­dela to in­ter­na­tional rev­o­lu­tion­ary icons like South Amer­ica’s Simón Bo­li­var, and African lead­ers like Thomas Sankara and Pa­trice Lu­mumba.

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An an­gry Ramaphosa also tore into the EFF for be­ing “peace­time rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies” who “had never been in the trenches”, who “know noth­ing about the strug­gle” but “have the temer­ity to open their mouths and in­sult a na­tional icon and say he sold out”.

“Nel­son Man­dela was not a sell­out. He never sold out. Nel­son Man­dela stayed in prison for 27 painful years be­cause he wouldn’t sell out,” he said. “Nel­son Man­dela was a hero of our rev­o­lu­tion.”

Nz­i­mande ac­cused the EFF of pop­ulism and said the party should not “gam­ble with our rev­o­lu­tion”.

Turn­ing his at­ten­tion to mine work­ers’ union Numsa and ex­pelled Cosatu gen­eral sec­re­tary Zwelinz­ima Vavi, Nz­i­mande said the labour fed­er­a­tion’s re­cent 12th con­gress had marked the de­feat of an at­tempt to take over Cosatu.

Ramaphosa thanked the Cosatu lead­ers for be­ing “vig­i­lant” in deal­ing with the threat and called on them to build the fed­er­a­tion and its af­fil­i­ates, a task he con­ceded would be “very dif­fi­cult”.

Turn­ing to shop floor mat­ters, Dlamini is­sued a de­mand to pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma that his state of the na­tion ad­dress next year should be used to an­nounce the de­tail of a na­tional min­i­mum wage.

Dlamini said Cosatu’s con­gress had pegged a na­tional min­i­mum wage at be­tween R4 500 and R6 000, and said it would most ben­e­fit vul­ner­a­ble work­ers in highly ex­ploita­tive in­dus­tries like se­cu­rity, agri­cul­ture and the restau­rant sec­tor.

He also called on Pres­i­dent Zuma not to sign off on new tax­a­tion laws un­til the de­part­ment of so­cial de­vel­op­ment and Trea­sury had com­pleted their work on de­vel­op­ing pol­icy for a so­cial se­cu­rity sys­tem to ben­e­fit work­ers who had lost their jobs.

Mean­while, the ten­sions in the ANC’s KwaZulu-Natal struc­tures spilled over into the gov­ern­ing al­liance yes­ter­day when newly elected pro­vin­cial chair­per­son Sihle Zikalala and his lead­er­ship were booed by crowds at­tend­ing the Cosatu rally.

The crowd, which had been dis­ci­plined most of the day, roared their dis­ap­proval when Zikalala and his deputy, Wil­lies Mchunu, were ac­knowl­edged by Cosatu’s Dlamini.

The crowd also booed at the rest of the ANC pro­vin­cial lead­er­ship when its pres­ence was ac­knowl­edged.

Zikalala ousted Premier Senzo Mchunu as party chair­per­son last month in an elec­tion seen by many mem­bers as rigged.

Fingers have been pointed at Zikalala, who was pre­vi­ously pro­vin­cial sec­re­tary and, there­fore, had con­trol over the ad­min­is­tra­tion of branches and mem­bers.

The eThek­weni re­gion, where the rally was held, has a strong Mchunu sup­port base. Zikalala has been linked to the so-called Premier League, a loose as­so­ci­a­tion of lead­ers of Mpumalanga, Free State and North West who are the en­gine be­hind for­mer Home Af­fairs min­is­ter Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s bid for the pres­i­dency.

On Mon­day, Mchunu sup­port­ers marched on the party’s pro­vin­cial of­fices for the sec­ond time to de­mand a re­run and a halt of all ac­tiv­i­ties of the new pro­vin­cial lead­er­ship.

They have also vowed to march on the ANC’s Luthuli House head­quar­ters in Jo­han­nes­burg.

The party’s na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee has now ap­pointed a task team to look into the dis­pute.

PHOTO: RA­JESH JAN­TI­LAL

STOMP­ING GOOD TIME From left: SACP gen­eral-sec­re­tary Blade Nz­i­mande, Cosatu pres­i­dent Sdumo Dlamini, Sanco pro­vin­cial sec­re­tary Richard Hlophe and Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa dance on stage at Cosatu’s 30th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion at the Cur­ries Foun­tain sta­dium in Dur­ban yes­ter­day

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