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Western Cape premier Helen Zille's recent comments against Cosatu was a sign of her growing “instability”, the provincial branch of the trade federation said on Wednesday.
“Cosatu is not surprised by Zille's comments at the University (of ) Stellenbosch. She has for a while now been making the most unusual and surprising statements, some of which she has had to apologise for,” Congress of SA Trade Unions Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich said.
“We are growing increasingly concerned about the instability and rashness of the premier and leader of the DA (Democratic Alliance).”
He said in a statement that her comments about Cosatu were “inaccurate and misleading”.
“Instead of responding in detail here... (I) would be happy to have a public debate with the premier on the issues she had raised,” Ehrenreich said.
“We had extended this challenge to the DA before the Stellenbosch event, but the DA did not want to take up the challenge. I suppose it's easier to make wild allegations if you do not have to respond to the facts.”
On Tuesday Zille told students at the university that Cosatu was attempting to “jockey” for more power in the country.
She said South Africans needed to see through Cosatu, because it wanted to “keep unemployed people excluded from jobs and economic opportunities, to protect its power base”.
“As the internal battle in the ANC heats up, and Cosatu jockeys for more of the power, it has cleverly tried to paint itself as the 'internal opposition' inside the tripartite alliance,” Zille said.
“It is clear that (Cosatu general secretary) Zwelinzima Vavi is engaged in a campaign to construct for himself a power base, from which he will attempt to capture the alliance at the ANC's 2017 conference.”
She said that if Vavi wanted to run the country, he should “put his name on the ballot and stand for election”.
Cosatu had previously announced that it would not participate in the Western Cape's economic development partnership (EDP).
“Bizarrely, Cosatu is the only organisation in the whole of the province that has refused to engage with the process since March 2011, when it started,” she reportedly said.
National Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven later described Zille's comments as “ludicrous and defamatory”.
He said her outburst was motivated by envy at the union federation's ability to mobilise millions of South Africans of all races in its campaigns.
Ehrenreichs said Zille had been “dishonest” about the EDP.
“The EDP is structured in a manner to shield the premier's greatest weakness: of not being able to engage constructively with persons and organisations who do not share her views,” he said.
“The R2 million that has been spent on the EDP process thus far has been an irregular expenditure and has again created jobs for DA pals.” - Sapa