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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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Media Centre  |  COSATU Press Statements

Zwelinzima Vavi declines nominations to ANC NEC


The General Secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, Zwelinzima Vavi, confirms that he is not accepting nomination to the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress.

" I am a firm believer," he says, "in the principle that the President and General Secretary of a trade union federation like COSATU should not wear more than one political hat, even within the context of the Tripartite Alliance."

Out of a population of 45 million South Africans, there must always be people who stand at all times as the unmistakeable public face of the trade unions and the voice of the working class. This is more important today than at any other time in our history .

COSATU, and many other in the Alliance, are seriously concerned at the extent to which many of our leaders have begun to embrace new values that are foreign to our movement - patronage, careerism, and a culture of sycophancy and boot-licking. It is a cultu re in which people aspire to office and hold positions on the basis of how best they can position themselves to serve their own personal interests rather than those of the people they are supposed to represent.

Many have accused the General Secretary and others of fighting to defend the human rights of the ANC Deputy President, and to support him as the President, from a desire to land plum jobs in government or business. Refusing to accept nomination is a way of sending a clear message that COSATU and many in the Alliance are not interested in personal advancement but are determined to fight for the people.

" Standing for the ANC NEC," says the General Secretary, "would have confused people and given credence to those accusing me of pursuing a personal career. I have no interest whatsoever in a job in government or business. As long as I am still the General Secretary of COSATU I want to speak for the workers and want there to be no confusion on this."

The General Secretary also refused to stand for the Central Committee of the SACP for the same reason.

This decision not to stand for the ANC NEC does not in any way contradict COSATU's 2015 Programme's commitment to COSATU swelling the ranks of the ANC. That never meant swelling the ranks of the movement's top positions.

In line with the criticism we have made - that the ANC NEC is overpopulated by government and business leaders, at the expense of the ANC's constituency - we continue to appeal for ANC Conference delegates to elect more representatives from labour and civi l society, so as to create a more balanced NEC.