On this next page we give you more news on what happened at the Cosatu Central Committee that took place from September 17 to 20 in Kempton Park. Some of it you may have already read in the newspapers but we hope to give you a new angle!
The Madisha SagaWoody Aroun
Addressing delegates at the opening of the 4th Cosatu Central Committee, the General Secretary of the trade union federation, Zwelinzima Vavi, referred to the recent controversy surrounding its President Willie Madisha and his involvement in the much publicized incident of an alleged missing donation given to the South African Communist Party (SACP). Drawing on a report released by the Politburo (PB) of the SACP and the work done by its task team, Vavi told delegates that the PB was extremely concerned about the behavior of Madisha, who “never once raised the matter” of the missing donation even though he served on the executive of the communist party. Vavi went on to say that on the basis of the information presented by the task team, the PB could not find any evidence that such a donation ever existed, “but would leave no stone unturned” to get to the bottom of the matter. “Notwithstanding the new information we have from the task team and the PB”, Vavi appealed to CC delegates to allow the Central Executive Committee (CEC) to handle the matter and “follow the process outlined in its resolution” on September 13 2007, without necessarily compromising the constitutional authority of the CC. After brief deliberations, the CC agreed to leave the matter in the hands of the CEC following a motion tabled by the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu).
(Note: The National Congress is Cosatu’s highest decision-making body; then comes the Central Committee (CC) with about 500 delegates. Both the NC and CC work on proportional representation – the more members you have, the more delegates you have in the meeting. The Central Executive Committee is a smaller committee that runs the federation in between national congresses and central committees. It has equal representation from each affiliate.)
“˜Half-Way to freedom”Peter Thobejane
Cosatu President Willie Madisha told 500 delegates attending the CC in Kempton Park that the poor and the marginalised were “half way’ in realising some of the goals of the national democratic revolution (NDR).Madisha cited improvements in land redistribution and delivery of houses as positive steps consistent with the transformative agenda of the working class. However, he cautioned that the country still needs the working class to lead on issues of policy and deal with some of the pertinent issues related to race, class and gender inequality. Amongst other issues, Madisha referred to the relationship of the NDR to the working class and the extent to which this relationship has been undermined by right wing economic policies like GEAR.
The roaring Terror Judy Madumo
As Terror Lekota rose up to the podium, the CC ushered him in with the revolutionary “˜umshini wami, umshini wami’! Looking “˜unterrified’, unthreatened and unshaken throughout the singing spree with comrades making gun-wielding gestures, Lekota could be seen on a 4×4 metre big screen roving his eyes widely behind his specs, from one side of the hall to the other and back as comrades continued to ululate “˜awuleth’ umshini wami’. As he held the microphone and continued with his input that “the right to strike does not mean the right to take away other people’s rights,” he was at no stage terrorized by even the booing from some at the front. Instead he spat more fire and said “One of the few things that we must not allow to grow in the movement is that we will not allow the voice of the differing voice”. As he further charged and asked not to be shouted down, he accentuated his point even harder: “I say the right to strike is the right to withhold labour until the demands are met. This does not mean that we must close the hospitals and it cannot also mean that we must close schools!” Consistent with his soberness throughout his input, he paused and then scrolled his eyes, even at the table, and wrapped up, “although some of you are unhappy, as we move to the future you are going to find that Comrade Terror was in fact right!” The CC clapped and punctuated the National Chairperson of the ANC’s roaring input and chanted, “thina ngaloZuma, sibulal’ igovu lenja!”
Cosatu unityJenny Grice
Last year’s Cosatu National Congress, was characterized by “back-stabbing and scandal-mongering,” said Vavi in his political report to congress. “Never again do we want to see a display of such deep levels of division.”He described the efforts that the CEC had instituted to try and re-unite affiliates after the congress. A Commission was set up with presidents from Samwu, Num, Ceppwawu, Nehawu and Satawu. What they found was that although the media had alleged divisions within affiliates, on all resolutions there “was no major disagreement”. The commission agreed that it was important that “internal space to raise issues should at all times be encouraged and defended to avoid organisational issues being addressed via the media”. Vavi praised the delegates for agreeing to manage the current Madisha issue through the next CEC, “away from the glare of the media.” This can only serve to “cement the unity of the federation,” he said.
Our strategic linkage to the NDR
“Let them eat the cake”
That old French revolution saying came back to haunt delegates at lunch on the first day.With food running out before many could get their plate, hungry delegates were forced to eat cake – that was all that was left for lunch!But it was not just the delegates that were deprived – even the big chiefs failed to fill their bellies – and they didn’t even get cake! “People eat too much,” was the defence of the outsourced company that had provided the lunch.
National Chairperson of the ANC, Terror Lekota, reminded CC delegates of what Walter Sisulu, had once said: those who are trade union members but do not belong to the ANC are not full members of the union movement. He told delegates that the question of breaking the alliance is invalid. The alliance is here to stay because we have not yet achieved the requirements enshrined in the Freedom Charter. The Freedom Charter set aside the task that all the alliance components must participate in order to see the realisation of deepening the democratic breakthrough eg through land redistribution and service delivery.The chairperson said the NEC of the ANC has resolved that it must continue a discussion with its alliance partner on how best they will work together to ensure service delivery to the people.He said that we must find ways to manage our contradictions within alliance structures.
Palace politics corrupt!Woody Aroun
Addressing delegates at Cosatu’s 4th Central Committee, the General Secretary of the SACP Blade Nzimande blasted those involved in “palace politics … politics of backstabbing, using state resources to settle political scores, using the media to smear” to further their own interests and political power. Nzimande went on to say that “had it not been for the working class struggle, the masses will be spectators” to those in the palace. While the “evil of palace politics” found expression in the popular media, the onus fell on the working class to replace palace politics by reclaiming the revolution and “building a progressive mass movement”. Claiming that the “revolution was on trial”, Nzimande ruthlessly criticized those BEE entrepreneurs who have become “appendages of the white elite”, while the onslaught on workers and the poor continued unabated through outsourcing, retrenchments and casualisation. On a lighter note, Nzimande cautioned the General Secretary of Cosatu to be careful of using a credit card – “even the credit card has its limit”, while agent provocateurs continue to associate him (Blade) with allegations of a missing donation. Much to the delight of delegates Nzimande concluded by saying that “the revolution is safe and on course”, but that the working class must guard against those who use “palace politics” as a way of undermining the struggle of the masses. Responding to the organizational report by Cosatu deputy general secretary, Bheki Ntshalintshali, Samwu urged the CC to take note of Nzimande’s input and rebuild the workers’ movement by actively engaging the state on a number of issues affecting workers and the poor, including regulations on essential workers, plans to build a nuclear energy plant and privatization of state assets like steel and transport. Like Nzimande, Samwu condemned the “palace politics” of some of our allies, and called on the CC to cement the unity of the working class as a fighting federation capable of advancing the interests of the working class and the poor.
Terror speaks his mindJenny Grice
Just a week ago ANC national chairperson, Terror Lekota, berated comrades for singing “Umshini wami” saying that it was a song that belonged to revolutionary times.It seemed that Cosatu delegates were determined to show how they felt about this because as he took his seat on the podium, delegates spontaneously broke out into “Umshini wami'”.It was with a smile on his face that Lekota began to address delegates as the famous song died down.He said that the ANC NEC was “deeply concerned” about the labour movement. Commenting that it was not the first time that there had been problems in the alliance, he said that as long as alliance partners shared strategic goals that are in the Freedom Charter, then the alliance would remain intact. Partners could differ on the tactics to reach these goals.However, if partners differed on goals as well, the alliance would cease to be an alliance and would merely become a coalition.Lekota used the platform to stress the importance of free speech. “The day our movement is afraid to listen to a voice with a different opinion, we must not talk about democracy because democracy will have ceased to do that.”This was his introduction to him taking a swipe at the recent public sector strike.While agreeing that workers have the right to strike, he condemned the burning and trashing of schools and the killing of some non-strikers. “We cannot allow elements that are reversing the revolution, to destroy what we have built… if we think something is not right, we must say so to each other.””Populists,” he said, “only say things that people like. Leaders must take on the unpleasant task of confronting workers of today…. We can’t reverse the revolution.”
His hard-hitting words provoked irate responses from Nehawu, Sadtu and Samwu. Sadtu accused him of “political lecturing” while Nehawu criticized him of “belittling us” and pointed out that the public sector strike was also about the difficulties of delivering service to the public.
Preparing for the ANC’s National ConferencePeter Thobejane
General Secretary of Cosatu, Zwelinzima Vavi, in his political report to 500 delegates at the CC, cautioned the CC delegates that the ANC policy conference this year was very important for Cosatu because it will affect the future direction of the struggle. Vavi thanked the ANC for agreeing with some of the submissions made by Cosatu to the ANC’s national policy conference in June. The ANC has agreed to further engage with the federation on issues that they don’t see eye to eye on while we are on our way to Limpopo in December 2007. It is important for Cosatu to ensure that its delegates are not going there to look for the succession debate or leadership positions. Instead they must look at issues contained in the 10 points of the Freedom Charter and ensure that they are debated and carried by the conference, Vavi said. At the same time he emphasised that they must look at leadership who will have the interests of the working class at heart.
Numsa – toe the line!Jenny Grice
Numsa came in for a quiet reprimand at the CC on day two. Ceppwawu referred to “my learned comrades on the right” (where Numsa was sitting) when he criticized some affiliates for poaching from others. He urged “affiliates that feel that others are poaching from them… to approach each other.” He said that Ceppwawu had a similar situation with Nehawu but after comrades from both unions had met “at the highest level” they had agreed on a process that should be followed at local level. And now “the problem is resolved!” Ceppwawu threatened that if affiliates refuse to engage on poaching others members, “we are going to use our last cent and do the same thing!” He called on the federation to take a stand on the matter. Second vice president, Violet Seboni, confirmed Cosatu’s view on the poaching matter: “Poaching is not allowed by the federation!”
The alliance – Cosatu the dogs, ANC the hunterJenny Grice
Those that have heard Vavi speak will know that to enrich his speeches he uses his youthful experiences.Today he harked back to the hunter and his dogs to describe how Cosatu was treated in the alliance. Cosatu was like the dogs used by the hunter. They worked together until the prey was captured. Then the hunter would go inside, cook the meat leaving his dogs outside to feast on the smell of their hard work. All the dogs got was the bones!When it was election time, Cosatu and its cadres worked tirelessly to get people to vote ANC. But once the votes were captured, Cosatu was side-lined. “We are not prepared to sign a blank cheque anymore,” said Vavi.
A new CPI-X – will it benefit or harm us?Jenny Grice
News that Stats SA is revising its basket of goods in the CPI-X touched the CC on day two.While Sactwu expressed its concern that the new CPI-X figure had the potential to take away all our gains, Denosa thought otherwise.The new basket, it said, would include things like funeral expenses, taxi fares and other things that are closer to workers’ expenses. Stats SA would also measure differences in provinces to pick up on provincial differences.Denosa urged that instead of challenging it, Cosatu should engage with Stats SA because a revised CPI-X basket of goods could be of benefit to the working class and its struggle for a living wage.
Striking a balanceJenny Grice
“We have to strike a balance between our human needs and our environmental concerns,” said Num on the second day of the Cosatu CC.Responding to the Secretariat Report on organizational issues, Num said that 95% of the electricity generated in this country is from coal.He urged Cosatu to take up a campaign to ensure that control mechanisms are put in place to control polluting emissions from power stations.Commenting on the domination of coal-driven power stations, the Num representative said that Cosatu should have an integrated energy strategy that would “optimise all aspects of the energy sector eg oil, renewable energy, nuclear energy, wind etc.”Num criticized government for concentrating more than 40% of the department of minerals and energy budget on the development of nuclear power which Num did not support because of “the many bad social consequences”.
Central Committee resolvesOn Day three of the Cosatu Central Committee, delegates broke into 8 different commissions. From these commissions different resolutions were then drafted and then taken to the plenary.Here we give you a taste of some of the resolutions. If you want the full document, get it from your local office.
What the CC said on organisational issuesWe have set ourselves a target to double our membership to 4 million by 2015. To do this we must redouble our efforts to:* step up the recruitment campaign so that rural, casualised and sub-contracted workers become Cosatu members; * provide better service to our members; * take up workers struggles on all fronts; * institute organisational renewal and development programmes across all trade unions.We are disappointed by the Constitutional Court Ruling that the Defence Force Regulations that bar the SA Security Forces Union (Sasfu) from affiliating to Cosatu are legitimate. We will spare no effort to change these regulations as we believe all workers must belong to Cosatu. We recommit ourselves to one industry-one-union and one-country one-federation.We are concerned by the police brutality during strikes and condemn these apartheid-era police tactics. We will agitate for changes in our labour laws to close loopholes exploited by employers to deny workers their rights. In addition, we will challenge recent interpretations that fundamentally alter the architecture of our labour laws, including the interpretation of “˜operational requirements’ in Frys Metal and Rustenburg Platinum Cases. We will intensify the struggle for gender emancipation in our organisations and the society in general.
Who should lead the ANC? What the CC said:Those elected onto the ANC NEC should be committed to building the unity and cohesion of the liberation movement around the Freedom Charter vision. They should have the following attributes:* commitment to a radical NDR and thorough-going transformation of society * proven commitment to the Alliance and asserting the hegemonic position of the working class as a primary motive force * committed to the unity of the ANC, the Alliance and the democratic movement, * committed to make this decade truly a decade of workers and the poor and galvanise the progressive forces of the liberation movement and working with progressive elements of civil society * an ant- imperialist and internationalist character* a struggle record and be politically experienced In addition, deployed cadres from the federation must in no way impact on the character and independent profile of the federation. Elected leaders should not be allowed to serve on boards of companies (strive for economic empowerment), as this will compromise their role as leaders serving the people and the working class. Enforce regular and structured accountability of elected leaders of Cosatu to political and public office. Convene a mid-term Alliance review of the work of government and the performance of deployees to political and public office. To seek to contribute, in a non-sectarian manner, to the ANC’s nomination and election process and outcome through COSATU cadres who are directly involved in ANC structures in preparation for its 52nd National Congress to be held in December 2007 in Limpopo. The CC recommends to its cadres who are in ANC structures (not nominate) the following candidates for the top six positions of the ANC NEC;
Deputy PresidentKgalema Motlhanthe
Secretary GeneralGwede Mantashe
Deputy Secretary GeneralBaleka Mbethe
Treasurer GeneralMatthew Phosa
National ChairpersonNkosazana Zuma/ Stofile Makhenkesi
Additional Members to the ANC NECThe CEC of Cosatu to draw up and recommend a list of additional members (including leaders from Cosatu who are active ANC members) to serve on the ANC NEC, and that an additional woman candidate be identified for the top six positions other than the names identified on the current list. The CEC to manage together with Alliance partners the potential problems that might arise as a consequence of this resolution.
What was said in the debates
Saccawu – all names must conform to criteria!We know what happened in the list conferences, Cosatu put names to say that these are working-class biased but they turned out different! We can’t put names and then become silent. There should be a process to ensure that all names conform to criteria.
Vavi – we are not signing a blank cheque!We must apply criteria consistently to people we are identifying (not nominating) so that all candidates we are identifying meet most of what we identified. We shouldn’t sign a blank cheque. We should engage with all of them individually, it will help us if we were going to get some serious commitments, for example to unify the ANC, deepen the NDR as a process for fundamental change so that the CEC can feel comfortable. We are not signing a blank cheque to anyone so we don’t say a few months down the line “wow did you hear what this fellow is saying!”
Let’s practise what we preach – Vavi!For the ANC – we are calling for a 50-50 quota but we as Cosatu must practise what we preach.In our affiliates at this CC, women are under-represented both in their delegations and in the inputs from the floor.What about the youth? More than 60% are the youth, but are we reflecting the youth in the trade unions? We can’t point fingers at others when four fingers are pointing at ourselves!
Key challenges facing Cosatu and the working classThe CC resolved to campaign on:- jobs and poverty, – implementation of progressive legislation, particularly labour legislation, especially for farmworkers, and fight to protect our gains – the Alliance Pact which should include an appropriate macro-economic policy- monetary policy – campaign against current policies of the Reserve Bank, call for amendments to its mandate, & ensure broad representation- “˜ear to the ground campaign’ to reconnect with members and the broader community, and combat social distance which is emerging even with shop stewards.- recapturing the soul of the ANC, and to defend progressive policies of the ANC.
Develop strategies on:- health care to advance movement towards the NHI, – democratising retirement funds- promoting trade union organization in the entire SADC region- reviving the MDM- organising vulnerable and difficult to organize sectors eg old people and the unemployed.
Build – a counter-hegemonic bloc internationally so as to isolate the IMF, World Bank, G8 etc and their inappropriate economic policies – workplace organization across all sectors, including rural, proper mandating procedures and a reporting back culture and proper servicing of members. – closer collaboration between public sector and private sector unions eg in fighting job losses.- effective solidarity action across the Trade union movement.- unity with all democratic forces, including the churches, and community based organisations especially the upsurge of independent sporadic community struggles.- a programme to deepen working class consciousness with study groups in Cosatu, the Alliance, and the broad democratic movement. – Party units.- our own forms of communication, including print media.- and engage more aggressively with the media, including the SABC.
Implement- put a time frame to implementation of all our organisational resolutions and ensure that affiliates comply eg Cartel resolution. – resolution on the role of Cosatu in disciplining affiliates – simplified documents reflecting on Cosatu positions. – resolution to provide resources for locals and extend advantages of IT to them.- the resolution to reclaim the ANC at the level of branches by swelling the ranks and identifying members in all wards and put a plan in place to coordinate their participation in the ANC and SACP.
Assess- The next CEC to assess implementation of our organisational and socio-economic resolutions.
Finalise- a code of conduct to protect our leaders, and ensure they conduct themselves with integrity so as to overcome cracks in the Federation and the Alliance.
Who was there?
Central Committee delegations present
Number of members