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Johannesburg - The ANC would drift to the right if the working class opted to abandon the party, secretary general Gwede Mantashe said on Wednesday.
“You have made an assumption that if you decide to leave the ANC, the ANC will become static,” he told Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) members at their second national political school in Benoni, east of Johannesburg.
“(However) you will have an ANC that will grow more and more conservative and once it is more conservative it will be brutal on the working class.”
Mantashe said working class organisations, such as the unions and the SA Communist Party, influenced the standing of the African National Congress.
The liberation movement, led by the ANC, was a multi-class revolution and if the working class decided not to support the party other classes would take over the space and shift it.
“If you think it's neo-liberal now... You will push it (ANC) to the right,” he said.
Mantashe urged union members to engage with Cabinet ministers, especially those who were former union members.
He used Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and the SA Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) as an example.
Motshekga was a former Sadtu member and now that she was a minister the union was fighting her.
“I looked at Cabinet and I established that a big chunk of it can be traced back to the trade unions... but they 1/8unions 3/8 cannot talk to their former members.”
Mantashe was speaking under the theme forms and content of the class struggle.
Mantashe also touched on the problems facing the Congress of SA Trade Unions.
He said the federation needed to focus on its principles.
“Once you close your eyes to those fundamental principles you are going to see the battles that are running now. Those battles are a function of many things.”
Mantashe said one of those things was the development of personalities in Cosatu.
“When you begin to worship individuals then you are going to kill the thing 1/8Cosatu 3/8.”
Cosatu has been divided following allegations of rape against general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, and his subsequent suspension.
On Thursday, Cosatu announced Vavi had been put on special leave pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing into an affair he had with a junior employee.
On Friday, Vavi vowed to challenge his suspension.
Last month, a junior Cosatu employee accused Vavi of rape. He admitted to having a consensual affair with her. The woman subsequently withdrew a sexual harassment complaint against him.
Cosatu affiliates, such as the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and the Food and Allied Workers' Union (Fawu) have backed Vavi.
The unions have called for Cosatu president Sidumo Dlamini to be removed from his position after he said Cosatu had been damaged.
They also claim the special central executive committee meeting which suspended Vavi was not constituted properly.
Numsa, Cosatu's biggest affiliate, said it had lost faith in Dlamini and that he was not representing all Cosatu affiliates.
Mantashe on Wednesday said Cosatu needed to appreciate the fundamental principles and focus on its responsibility to workers.
“You gave power to general secretaries and killed worker control,” he said.
“Once you do that you tamper with the content and nature of the trade (union) movement,” he said.