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It is too late for Zwelinzima Vavi and Thobile Ntola to undo a corrosive subculture they helped to inculcate, says Moshoeshoe Monare.
Johannesburg - It is too late for Cosatu boss Zwelinzima Vavi and the suspended SA Democratic Teachers Union president, Thobile Ntola, to undo a corrosive subculture they helped to inculcate in the federation.
Vavi means well and has fashioned himself as a corruption- buster who has the courage to confront misrule and unaccountability in his party, the ANC.
But he was part of the gang that allowed the party to divide workers. He tolerated incompetent leaders as long as it produced the desired result: a direct line to the president’s residence, Mahlamba Ndlopfu.
Ntola, at the Cosatu congress in the spring of 2006, even threatened to discipline those who were circulating statements and lobbying for Vavi’s then nemesis, former Cosatu president Willie Madisha.
Ironically, the Sadtu leader has become the victim of his eternal factional loyalty to Vavi.
Vavi, on the other hand, supported President Jacob Zuma when he was facing corruption and rape charges and helped to purge whoever wanted to exercise their democratic right to vote for a different leader. He led a central committee that took a decision to subvert the rule of law and demand that the prosecution withdraw charges against Zuma.
“The shabby treatment of comrade JZ has led a significant section of our comrades to believe that he will not receive a fair trial, given the prejudicial manner in which his case has been handled. It is for this reason that Cosatu has called for the withdrawal of the case and the reinstatement of comrade JZ,” he told the Young Communist League in December 2006.
Madisha, former Cosatu deputy president Joe Nkosi, former National Union of Metalworkers of SA leader Slumko Nondwangu and others are a victim of Vavi’s intolerant and vicious machinations at the expense of the workers and the stability of the federation.
They abused internal processes to deal with comrades they disagreed with.
He plotted, alienated affiliates and allowed his communist comrades and factions within the ANC to tear the federation apart. It became a subculture of mob rule and tyranny of the powerful faction. He was in charge of that powerful bloc.
Even when his then affair with his current wife was exposed, he survived it because he commanded solid support. Little did he know that the threat was not necessarily Madisha. In fact, his enemies were close to him at the time. They knew his weaknesses and secrets.
Vavi and SACP boss Blade Nzimande were close friends, comrades, conspirators and key plotters. They hatched a plot to fill the Cosatu leadership with men and women who are turning against Vavi. The fallout with Zuma was his death knell.
He thought he still commanded power within the federation and the alliance. He didn’t realise that his power had been eroded by this undemocratic, conspiratorial subculture that he cultivated or allowed to germinate in the federation. He must fall on his sword.
His indomitability and complacency were his limitations. He never thought that one day what happened to Madisha would happen to him. This must be a lesson for those who are celebrating his tribulations (is it downfall?). It will happen to them. Unfortunately, in the end, the main casualty of factionalism is the organisation.
* Moshoeshoe Monare is editor of the Sunday Independent.