Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training Mduduzi Manana. Picture: Elmond Jiyane
Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training Mduduzi Manana and Cosatu yesterday locked horns over labour issues and political shenanigans in the final build-up to the ANC’s 53rd elective conference in Mangaung on Sunday.
Matters came to a head yesterday when Manana launched an attack on Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, accusing him of using an anti-corruption platform to exit from the federation and to start his own party.
Manana said Vavi had become “a problem child” in the alliance. He urged Vavi to lead workers and “stop being a political commentator and self-appointed critic of the government”.
“The alliance partners may remain critical of each other but they must not be counter-revolutionary. Vavi’s behaviour and actions lead to the conclusion that he has intentions to establish his own political party by using anti-corruption acts as a bandwagon,” Manana said.
He appealed to the ANC to express itself at the upcoming elective conference against Vavi’s “counter-revolutionary behaviour”.
“I call on all leaders of different Cosatu-affiliated unions and all workers of our country to unite and defend the tripartite alliance. Yesterday, the media sang the praises of Vavi for calling on all government officials not to do business with the state. But in fact it was the South African Communist Party that first made that call two years ago.”
Manana also told The New Age that Vavi had made a call a few days ago saying Cosatu would not support a list that did not include Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe for the ANC’s elective conference. He said Vavi did not, however, make any reference to a list that excluded President Jacob Zuma.
“Vavi claims that his call is intended to build unity and cohesion beyond the centenary conference. But he is quiet about the list that excludes Zuma. Vavi has a serious problem with Zuma and he must not insult founding leaders of this alliance in the name of ambition and populism.
“This so-called research study by Cosatu is Vavi’s brainchild, commissioned and designed to legitimise Vavi’s exit from the union federation,” Manana said.
Responding to Manana’s attack on Vavi, Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said: “There is not a shred of truth in any of this and if the deputy minister really believes what he is saying, it reflects a disturbing state of paranoia.”
Craven said the battle against corruption was being waged not just by Vavi or Cosatu but by the ANC, the government, business and civil society.
He said the decision to support the re-election of Zuma, Motlanthe, ANC secretary Gwede Mantashe was taken by a unanimous decision of Cosatu’s central executive committee, adding that Vavi’s comments had been completely consistent with that policy position.
“The comments that Vavi is planning to ‘exit’ from Cosatu and establish his own party is a pure fantasy, which exists only in the deputy minister’s head,” Craven said.
He said Vavi was enjoying the full support of Cosatu’s more than 2 million members, having been elected unopposed at the federation’s congress in September.