Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Cosatu "may be wrong on Zuma"
In what is rather a bizarre article, Cosatu secretary-general, Zwelinzima Vavi, admitted that they had 'pandered to the pressure of their members and could be wrong' about Zuma.

"It is possible that we may be wrong," he said. "It is possible there may be an element of correctness on both sides, that there may have been corruption, that those acts of corruption or wrongdoing may have just fed into a political plot.

The Cape Times states that the Cosatu leadership feels 'trapped' between their allegiance to the ANC and their members' emotional support of Zuma. The newspaper quotes Vavi as saying: "The overwhelming majority of Cosatu activists and leaders believe there is a conspiracy to deal with (Zuma). There is absolutely nothing we can do to change those beliefs," and then makes the inference: 'suggesting Cosatu's leaders were caught between an emotional rock and a political hard place'.

Whilst this is undoubtedly true, it paints a somewhat spurious picture of of Cosatu's leadership being innocently swept along in this issue. The Cosatu leadership has led the charge on Zuma's innocence from the first indictments against Shaik, and their leadership has been very vocal in support of Zuma. What they're now realising is that those comments have materially damaged their relations within the tri-partite alliance, and that they have created a groundswell amongst their membership that is proving immensely difficult to quell, which they realise may prove to be political suicide.

They've hardly been 'caught' between a rock and a hard place. On the contrary, they've firmly walked the path there. If this does constitute a slight change of heart by Cosatu's leadership, they have a lot of work to do in rebuilding relations internally. It also suggests that the ANC leadership has clamped down sufficiently on party leadership lines behind closed doors, and may hasten the decline of Cosatu as a political entity.