Johannesburg - Many political leaders, including former ANCYL president Julius Malema, are using the shooting at Lonmin's Marikana mine to destabilise Cosatu, the union federation said on Friday.

“Suddenly politicians, far removed from the reality workers face... are suddenly positioning themselves opportunistically as the champions of the RDOs (rock drill operators),” Congress of SA Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi told reporters in Johannesburg.

“Their latest recruit is former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, a wealthy, essentially right wing leader, who demagogically exploits any perceived weakness to encourage workers to leave their union, their only means of defence.”

Vavi said Malema knew Cosatu had its own weaknesses, but it never hid them away. He said a true revolutionary would not tell workers to form splinter unions and become “naked” without the trade federation.

Cosatu leader Sdumo Dlamini said the memorial service in Wonderkop on Thursday was an “engineered plan” by Malema to insult his “perceived opponents”.

“Julius must stop what he is doing, it is not helping him and it is not helping nobody... - it will - ferment divisions in society just because he is expelled from the ANC.”

He said there was an “onslaught” against Cosatu by right wing organisations in an effort to discredit it.

“Clearly here we are dealing with an orchestrated, planned, political agenda to weaken Cosatu, and if you have to weaken Cosatu, you start with the biggest union... the National Union of Mineworkers,” he said.

“It is not hidden, it is an open agenda. This 27-year-old workers' movement in South Africa will never be broken.”

Dlamini questioned the morals of political parties who tried to “cash-in” on the shooting.

Vavi said that according to the “small mind” of the Democratic Alliance, the ANC was finished, and its only enemy left standing was Cosatu.

“Suddenly today they are expressing shock - at the Lonmin shooting -, hypocrites crying crocodile tears. They have the audacity of blaming the same unions who they condemned every day for taking up these issues -of salaries -,” he said.

“Where are they when we lead mineworkers for months? Where are they when workers get tear-gassed on every street all over the country?

“Are they not the same people who condemn us for leading those strikes and now who are suddenly -speaking out - because they think it will get them into newspaper headlines all over the world?” he asked.

Sapa