The Citizen (KZN)

Vavi still lacks faith in Zuma as agent for poor

- Eric Naki

An expert says it is surprising that South African Federation of Trade Unions boss Zwelinzima Vavi has come forward once more to express distrust of former president Jacob Zuma’s ability to represent the interests of the poor.

As then general-secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) Vavi, along with then South African Communist Party (SACP) general secretary Blade Nzimande, backed him for the ANC presidency over Thabo Mbeki at Polokwane in 2007.

Vavi said he had been reluctant to back Zuma but was convinced by some SACP members. But he has since regretted his role in supporting the former president.

He later became one of the alliance hot-heads who criticised Mbeki for firing Zuma after he was implicated in the arms deal saga and began to mobilise workers to back Zuma in Polokwane.

They hoped that he would deliver on the working class agenda, while they ignored the serious corruption allegation­s against him.

Political analyst Prof Ntsikelelo Breakfast, from Nelson Mandela University’s Centre for Security, Peace and Conflict Resolution, said Vavi had no choice but to support Zuma.

“He was arm-twisted by certain people from Cosatu and SACP. But he would have been dealt with politicall­y if he did not buy into the idea of supporting Zuma.”

He said as general secretary of Cosatu, Vavi was influentia­l and together with the SACP they propelled Zuma into the position of the ANC leadership. “If he went against Zuma, he would have been politicall­y managed because Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini supported Zuma.

“Many of those who did not support Zuma within the federation and SACP were dealt with politicall­y,” Breakfast said.

As part of his strongly pro-Zuma stance, Vavi went on to personally campaign for Zuma calling his rise to power an “unstoppabl­e tsunami”.

The entire Cosatu, SACP and the ANC Youth League, then led by Fikile Mbalula and later Julius Malema, backed Zuma while they publicly despised Mbeki.

Vavi, Malema and Mbalula have since expressed regret about how they treated Mbeki.

Vavi and Malema apologised to the former president.

The Sunday Times has quoted Vavi as saying that Zuma failed the poor and the working class.

“The only mistake and the biggest mistake is that I was convinced by some members of both Cosatu and the SACP that the then deputy president of the ANC, Jacob Zuma, was going to be good for the agenda of the working class and therefore we must rally workers behind him,” Vavi said.

 ?? Picture: Nigel Sibanda ?? MISTAKE. SA Federation of Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi regrets backing Jacob Zuma in 2007.
Picture: Nigel Sibanda MISTAKE. SA Federation of Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi regrets backing Jacob Zuma in 2007.

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