Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Friday, March 09, 2007

Cosatu's harder line
A very, very interesting interview in the Mail & Guardian today where Cosatu boss Zwelinzima Vavi outlines Cosatu's 'new strategy' in pushing more leftist policies through the ANC. He doesn't mince his words and makes it clear that Cosatu demands change, with a structured approach to back it up. I take this move more seriously than the recent SACP rumblings, although Vavi concedes that Cosatu will not move outside the alliance, but aims to fix it from within.

Tensions have obviously been simmering for a while now within the tripartite alliance, but this is one of the first real moves of action - as opposed to bluster - from the other parties. Cosatu is calling for a 'pact' between the ANC and Cosatu, to move prominent Cosatu individuals into the 'new' ANC leadership elected in November and so change the policies of government itself. This represents a harder line from Cosatu, but also a fight for greater significance for their place in the tripartite alliance. It must have been incredibly difficult for the Cosatu leadership to pacify their more stalwart leftist members as Government has pushed through a largely capitalist macro-economic approach.

The timing of the move is correct in terms of Cosatu's aims, with the current succession debates raging and much talk of socio-economic failures within the ANC.

Here are some snippets from the interview:
Over many years now, we have said the alliance and ordinary ANC members are not driving government policy processes. We have cautioned that the most important economic policies are coming from government, more so from the presidency; that the people who have influence are drawn from Harvard University and the President’s Investment Council.
Flooding ANC ranks is the only workable strategy. Our members cannot stay outside and choose to complain about the ANC. There is massive anger exploding about the accumulation path and our members have given us the most militant directive to date in the history of Cosatu. We have been given strict dates to engage with the ANC and our affiliates will check what has been achieved and what we need to do.

Vavi ends with a rather significant threat, that is unlikely to occur, but could be the the catalyst for a shaking up of policy within the ANC:
The idea is that workers will not endorse the ANC during the 2009 elections if there are no concrete results for them.
Fighting talk indeed...