Mantashe slaps down Vavi over Mangaung jibe
CONGRESS of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi is not a "free agent" but the leader of an organisation, and should articulate his views as such, African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said on Wednesday.
Cosatu’s outspoken general secretary has once again angered the ruling party by publicly airing his views on the party’s leadership elected at its 53rd national conference, in Mangaung.
Mr Vavi is not coy about his views and readily voices his opinion on critical issues facing the ANC, its alliance with the union federation and the South African Communist Party — even if it rubs some up the wrong way.
As Mr Vavi is the chief spokesman of Cosatu, the ANC has interpreted this as a sometimes "oppositionist" stance derived from the "public posture" of its ally.
"It’s fine, he can express his views, but unfortunately he is a leader of an organisation, he is not a free agent. That’s the only difference. A free agent has a right to say anything, anywhere, anyhow, but when you lead an organisation you can’t be separated from one moment to the next, " Mr Mantashe said in an interview on Wednesday.
"When I speak I must always appreciate the fact that what I say is linked to the ANC because I am secretary-general of the ANC. Where a leader doesn’t appreciate that dynamic and the dialectical relationship between your individual capacity and your leadership capacity, then you are going to create more problems."
Mr Vavi’s latest faux pas in the eyes of his allies was his reaction on Twitter to the party’s newly elected leadership. Mr Mantashe said the general secretary had tweeted that it was "a formula for disaster, that it shows disunity".
"That is a wrong public posture, it is a wrong observation and if he believes in it, he is going to be disappointed. What is wrong about it is basically if he says so, it means that Cyril Ramaphosa is of a lesser calibre of leadership, it means Zweli Mkhize is of a lesser calibre of leadership, Jessie Duarte is of a lesser calibre of leadership. If that is what he believes, then he has not been in the ANC long enough," Mr Mantashe said.
Ahead of the conference, Mr Vavi had said that omitting the then ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe would be disastrous for the ANC. Mr Motlanthe challenged President Jacob Zuma for the ANC’s top spot and lost with 999 votes against Mr Zuma’s 2,983.
Mr Motlanthe was also replaced as party deputy president by businessman Cyril Ramaphosa. The former deputy president declined nomination for deputy president and the national executive committee.
Mr Vavi, following the election of the leaders, maintained his position on the matter, although he added that everyone should accept the outcome of a democratic process.
"I know how deep the sentiment is for him, even in Cosatu, the mineworker general secretary is now out and even though the other mineworker general secretary is in, the context is not the same. I do think he will stay as the deputy president until the next election and of course after the election there will be no point and he must move elsewhere," Mr Vavi said on the sidelines of the conference after the election results were announced on Tuesday.
"The new leadership would have to take over, that has to be the maturity we must learn.
"We must learn from the Thabo Mbeki saga and not repeat that, " Mr Vavi said.
Mr Mantashe said the party had raised the issue of Mr Vavi’s criticism with the federation.
"We have spoken to Cosatu, Cosatu is an institution … we spoke to a group of leaders of Cosatu. He was not there. He was not included, it wasn’t a formal meeting.
"This tweet is not helpful, whether I like it or don’t like it, it is not a helpful tweet," he said.
Mr Vavi has maintained consistently that he will not be silenced. Cosatu’s position is for a "critical" but "constructive" federation in relation to its ruling-party ally.
More in this section
- ANC accuses media of bias over DA remarks
- POLITICAL WEEK AHEAD: Mandela’s health still to dominate headlines
- Use your vote in 2014 elections, Zuma tells Soweto youths
- ‘Anonymous Africa’ hacker targets ANC website over Zimbabwe support
- Zuma responds to opposition critics
- ANC members disagree on Gupta disciplinary process