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Johannesburg - ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has become the first target of an “internal revolt” threatened by Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi’s allies last week over his suspension.
On Sunday, the Food and Allied Workers Union slammed Mantashe for his “unfortunate, reckless and destructive” statements about the embattled union boss.
The union, which met to discuss Vavi’s suspension from Cosatu, called on Mantashe to refrain from “further poisoning the already contaminated situation with his ill-informed statements”.
The union’s angry outburst followed Mantashe’s harsh criticism of Vavi at the weekend.
Mantashe made his disparaging remarks after Vavi unveiled his fight-back strategy at a media briefing on Friday.
Days after being suspended and charged for allegedly bringing Cosatu into disrepute in connection with a sex scandal, Vavi released an “intelligence” report he claimed was “proof” that his suspension was politically motivated.
He claimed the dossier was also “evidence” that state resources were being used to fight party political or factional battles.
Vavi accused his rival, Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini, of having circulated the highly questionable document before last week’s crucial central executive committee meeting in an attempt to influence committee members to dump him.
Mantashe subsequently told The Sunday Independent that Vavi should not drag the ANC into the factional battles tearing the labour federation apart.
“The reality of the matter is that they are trying to draw us into this matter. We don’t want to be drawn into that mud,” Mantashe said, adding the federation’s leaders had to be “loyal” to Cosatu’s decisions and deal with them internally.
Another Sunday newspaper also quoted him as slamming Vavi’s “ill-discipline”.
“This is unprecedented. It is the worst case of organisational ill-discipline. If the ANC takes me through a disciplinary process, the worst thing I can ever do is to go out and attack the ANC.”
The Food and Allied Workers Union’s deputy general secretary, Moleko Phakedi, said Mantashe had jumped on the anti-Vavi bandwagon.
“We don’t understand why Comrade Gwede chose to condemn Zwelinzima Vavi, without first familiarising himself with the disputed central executive committee, as if he is choosing a side of those who claim the committee was constitutional and the hallucinated ‘decision’ to suspend Vavi valid,” said Phakedi.
Phakedi reiterated the National Union of Metalworkers of SA’s claim that the committee meeting was unconstitutional because of “questionable credentials and the absence of written reports”.
“The so-called decision, on ‘suspending’ Vavi, was decreed instead of subjecting the two motions to a voting process in terms of the constitution.
“The union wishes to clarify that Zwelinzima Vavi has full support, in clarifying and putting the record straight, including on his right to approach the courts of law,” he added.
Phakedi’s strong reaction came after The Mercury reported last Friday that Vavi’s supporters were threatening an “internal revolt” similar to the one by President Jacob Zuma at the ANC’s 2005 national general council.
At the council, a revolt by ordinary ANC delegates had forced the Thabo Mbeki-led ANC to reinstate Zuma to his ANC leadership positions.
In what seems to be part of the revolt, unions supporting Vavi are also expected to hold special meetings to craft the way forward this week.