ANC rilled as COSATU takes the MDC route

SOUTH AFRICA’s ANC led ruling coalition faces a stern test as its partner COSATU follows the Zimbabwean path taken by the ZCTU in the mobilisation of Civic groups ready for a spoil. Below is the response by the bitter ANC Secretary-General:

COSATU’s civil society initiative astonishing – ANC NWC

Gwede Mantashe – ANC Secretary General

02 November 2010

Ruling party cautions labour against the temptations of regime change

NWC STATEMENT FOLLOWING ITS MEETING HELD ON 01 N0VEMBER 2010

Following the National General Council meeting held in September, this year, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC was directed to perform a number of responsibilities.

The NGC directed the NEC to report the outcomes of the NGC to the ANC membership ANC their branches.

As such, the NWC resolved that the month of November must be dedicated for such report backs through feedback sessions to our branches. The NEC will therefore visit 53 regions of the ANC in carrying out this directive.

For this purpose, the NEC has been divided into twenty teams that will be able to cover all the 53 regions over three weeks. The first week will be this coming Sunday, the 7th November 2010, then it will be followed by the 21st & 28th November 2010.

Through these feedback sessions, the NEC will immediately have an opportunity to assess the reception of the message and strengthen all areas of identified weaknesses when the NEC holds its regular meeting on the 13th of November 2010. The NEC will then use the feedback received from the NEC discussions to strengthen their message in the remaining regions, on the 21st and 28th November 2010.

The NWC reflected on the Civil Society Conference that was convened by COSATU which was held last week.

The NWC noted with astonishment that COSATU being part of the Alliance, found it appropriate to convene such as conference without inviting its partners in the Alliance. It further noted that even the government was not invited to share its views on matters that were on the agenda of the Conference.

Instead, the government of the ANC, was prosecuted and found guilty whilst in absentia for amongst other things pursuing "Neo Liberal" policies and not doing enough to "reverse the apartheid fault lines" in relations to health, the economy, education, employment and unemployment and the rising inequality gap between the haves, in the main who are white and the have nothing, in the main those black.

Government was also found guilty in absentia of inactivity on issues of fighting corruption.

The NWC also found it very strange and suspicious that whilst in the past, liberation movements have been at the center of ensuring the deepening and the advancement of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR), in this instance, the liberation movement is left out of a mechanism to advance and deepen the NDR as it relates to the matters raised at the conference.

Whilst there are denials in speeches and declarations that were presented at the conference that this conference or this mobilization is "Not anti government nor Anti ANC," the failure to invite the ANC and other alliance partners and the failure to allow government to respond to the matters raised and also to be made wiser points to the opposite.

The assertion and suggestion made by Civil Society formations and some unions and unions leaders, can be clearly interpreted by any logical thinking person as an attempt on the side of the organizers to put a wedge between civil society formations, some Unions, the ANC and its Government.

We should all learn from history of what happened in some parts of the continent, when some labour leaders working together with civil society formations, came up with alternative political parties to unset the ruling parties and governments in those parts of the continent.

We believe the leadership of COSATU is fully aware of what we are talking about here, and we believe the majority of the COSATU leadership have no intention of implementing regime change in South Africa, but we non-the-less caution, that an action like the one of leading a charge for the formation and for the mobilization of a mass civic movement outside of the Alliance partners and the ANC might indeed be interpreted as initial steps for regime change in South Africa. This is further reinforced by the attacks on all black political parties by the Secretary General of COSATU and the notable omission of the main opposition in such attacks.

An organized and mobilized civil society is good for democracy. Equally an organized and mobilised civil society that has positioned itself as an opposition to other forces of change is having the potential of derailing the revolution and the programme for change.

This initiative could have been more positive if all progressive forces were invited. We noted that the ANC, the SACP and SANCO were not invited, positioning the conference as an alternative block to the Alliance. The argument that inviting the Alliance partners would trigger a demand by other political parties to be invited is not a new argument but an argument that reactionary forces always used. The ANC will never be ashamed of inviting COSATU to any activity on the basis that other trade union federations will want to be invited.

The issues raised in the manifesto are talking to the programme of our government. The programme outlined in the declaration positions this new block as an opposition block that will oppose and resist any initiative taken by the government. The declaration says that anything that talks to wage moderation or a pact with the government must be opposed and resisted.

The context of all social partners coming together and being prepared to give up some of the issues that would be ordinarily be seen as untouchable in the effort to get as many people as possible to be employed is lost. Instead extremism that workers should not sacrifice for the benefit of the unemployed and those in vulnerable sectors of employment come through very strongly.

COSATU was part of the multi-stakeholder delegation that visited both the Netherland and Ireland to look into living case studies on how unemployment was fought and successfully reduced from more than 20% to structural levels of about 5%. The formation of the Millenium Labour Council was a product of this tour.

To pretend that government alone can resolve the problems facing society of unemployment, poverty and inequality, with business and the labour movement protesting on the sidelines, reflects oppositionism that is characterizing the debate.

The fact that some raised the possibility of forming an alternative party, "the Workers Party", confirms that this is not a new idea, but a recycled idea of weakening, dividing and ultimately dividing the ANC and the alliance. When COPE was formed we raised the consistent efforts made in the region by powerful international forces to weaken the liberation movements.

In the majority of cases, the funding of the divisions of liberation forces is funded by those who supported them originally. This funding is normally directed to organs of civil society with an aimed of forming opposition parties. This was the process that preceded the formation of the MDC in Zimbabwe and the MMD in Zambia. The process of getting legitimate individuals from within the liberation movement informed the support given to Mr Lekota in South Africa and Mr Hamutenya in Namibia.

Without panicking as accused by the General Secretary of COSATU we must be alive to the possibilities of forming blocks against the liberation movement. The initiative by opposition parties to merge into a strong block against the ANC is equally informed by the neo-liberal view that liberation movements in the region are too strong.

The ANC has the responsibility of analyzing and understand any initiative that has the potential to divide the liberation forces. The civil society conference can easily be used as a vehicle that propels individuals with ambitions who understand that individually they cannot go very far. We must therefore continue watching the space. We will continue investing time, energy and resources in addressing problems facing society.

Organs of civil society are invited to work with us as part of the broad democratic movement. We must confront the tendency of not engaging government but consistently project them as responsible for the ills of society. In that process find ourselves confronted by a movement that has the monopoly of ideas on where the solutions reside. Transforming society includes contest of ideas where mistakes do not constitute life sentencing as extremism always watch in the sidelines and give sentences to those who commit mistakes in the process of doing practical work.

The ANC will raise these issued and the commitment of COSATU to the Alliance partnership in a meeting that will be called urgently. Whilst we have not concluded these matters, we non-the-less are appalled by even reference to some leaders in the ANC as the "predator elite" who have shown their back to the plight of the poor.

The ANC remains committed to addressing all ills that confronts the South African society and the poor. In these efforts we are prepared to work with everyone.

Statement issued by, Gwede Mantashe, African National Congress Secretary General, November 2 2010