Cosatu, SACP taken to task on Zuma snub

CityPress - - News - HLENGIWE NHLABATHI hlengiwe.nhlabathi@city­

The ANC and Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma have taken a tough stance on Cosatu and the SA Com­mu­nist Party (SACP), say­ing that it was point­less to sit in a meet­ing with them if they were not pre­pared to lis­ten to Zuma any­where else.

City Press has learnt that plans to hold an im­por­tant al­liance po­lit­i­cal coun­cil a fort­night ago ground to a halt af­ter Zuma per­suaded of­fi­cials to in­stead seek a bi­lat­eral meet­ing to clear the air on on­go­ing lead­er­ship squab­bles.

Zuma ap­par­ently wanted to know why the ANC’s al­liance part­ners would lis­ten to him at that meet­ing when Cosatu has banned him from speak­ing at its events and the SACP has pub­li­cally called on him to step down.

On the back of Zuma’s protest, ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe met with al­liance sec­re­taries who ac­cepted the de­ci­sion to seek clar­ity.

“[Zuma] per­suaded us to say, let us en­gage the al­liance part­ners be­fore we go there, rather than ... walk­ing away from each other in the po­lit­i­cal coun­cil. Let us en­gage them bi­lat­er­ally and re­move the ob­sta­cles.” Man­tashe said it was in­cor­rect to sug­gest that Zuma had said he would not at­tend the po­lit­i­cal coun­cil.

“We want to un­der­stand their think­ing. They have taken de­ci­sions, but they have not spo­ken to us,” Man­tashe said.

How­ever, in­sid­ers in Cosatu and the SACP this week dis­missed the pro­posal for sep­a­rate meet­ings as a fruit­less ex­er­cise in­tended to “nurse Zuma’s feel­ings”. Both or­gan­i­sa­tions this week pub­licly said the pri­or­ity should be to resched­ule the al­liance coun­cil, which is now two weeks past due. The ANC’s uni­lat­eral de­ci­sion to can­cel the meet­ing was also seen as a sign of dis­re­spect, reignit­ing the long-held view that the ANC treated Cosatu and the SACP as ju­nior part­ners in the al­liance.

There was a sen­ti­ment that Zuma was “run­ning scared” be­cause he thought that he was “go­ing to be am­bushed” with Cosatu and the SACP in the same room.

Al­liance in­sid­ers said that, in­stead of can­celling the po­lit­i­cal coun­cil, “which was in the first place not sup­posed to be the ANC’s de­ci­sion to make”, Zuma should have stayed away if he was re­luc­tant and sent the re­main­der of the top six of­fi­cials.

They said that, even if the bi­lat­er­als were to take place, the ANC’s top six did not have the con­sti­tu­tional power to re­view any de­ci­sions taken by the party’s al­lies, in­clud­ing the call for Zuma to step down and ban­ning him from at­tend­ing their events.

“They called for bi­lat­er­als pan­der­ing to Zuma’s whims. Ev­ery­one must meet as man­dated by their struc­tures un­der the al­liance po­lit­i­cal coun­cil ban­ner to de­bate,” said an insider.

Cosatu owed its de­ci­sion not to at­tend the bi­lat­eral meet­ing with the ANC to the fact that its gen­eral sec­re­tary, Bheki Nt­shal­intshali, was out of the coun­try.

Its spokesper­son, Sizwe Pamla, said that they would ac­cept an­other in­vi­ta­tion from the ANC should it pro­pose an­other date.

“We will meet the ANC for a bi­lat­eral. They just have to give us a date [and] we will meet them be­cause we want the al­liance po­lit­i­cal coun­cil to take place.”

But City Press un­der­stands that there was no ap­petite from the ma­jor­ity of Cosatu’s na­tional of­fice bear­ers and that such a meet­ing would also be snubbed un­til the ANC con­vened the al­liance po­lit­i­cal coun­cil.

In ad­di­tion, the SACP took a de­ci­sion at its central com­mit­tee meet­ing to re­ject any at­tempt by the ANC to drag it into a bi­lat­eral.

The party, which, like Cosatu, has be­come a staunch critic of the ANC and par­tic­u­larly Zuma, is said to have writ­ten a let­ter giv­ing no­tice to this ef­fect.

The SACP said it did not need a bi­lat­eral as there had been many of those re­cently.

Cosatu has upped the ante, tak­ing a res­o­lu­tion at its re­cent central com­mit­tee that the al­liance po­lit­i­cal coun­cil must be re­con­fig­ured and be given new pow­ers, mak­ing it a strate­gic cen­tre of power.

This would mean po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sions, de­ploy­ments and the pass­ing of ANC man­i­festos would be man­aged and ap­proved by the al­liance coun­cil.

The rea­son­ing is that too much power is cen­tralised in the ANC and in an in­di­vid­ual (Zuma).


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