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ANC attacks 'toxic' union chief

Published Nov 28, 2004

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By Moffet Mofokeng

The African National Congress has launched a stinging attack on Zwelinzima Vavi, the general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, saying his statements on the ANC-Cosatu-SACP alliance were "highly toxic".

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"Vavi has demonstrated over-and-over again that he is reckless," ANC spokesperson Smuts Ngonyama said on Sunday.

He was speaking to reporters on the fringes of the funeral of Joyce Kgoali, the late chairperson of the National Council of Provinces.

Ngonyama said it was "uncalled for" for Vavi to raise tensions within the tripartite alliance at a press briefing on Thursday when there are existing structures to deal with such concerns.

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"This is very much unfortunate, at a time when we are mourning the life of one of the greatest of our movement... We are being bombarded unnecessarily by the attack... from people we regard as our own comrades)."

"The kind of recklessness that Vavi is demonstrating is not a true reflection of the dignity of the struggle of the workers in general," he said.

Ngonyama described Vavi as an "impetuous, reckless leader" and "he is a very, very young child in the alliance".

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Ngonyama's comments came after a newspaper report that President Thabo Mbeki was to suffer another round of scathing public criticism this week from Cosatu.

The paper said the labour federation believed that there were unnamed ANC leaders who wanted to force it out of its political alliance with the ANC and SA Communist Party.

The report also said Cosatu supported last week's harsh public attack on Mbeki by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who decried a "culture of sycophancy" in the ANC.

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Tutu said a tendency of "unthinking, uncritical kowtowing and party-line toeing" was dangerous for South Africa's democracy.

Cosatu backed Tutu's views and described as "dangerous" the tendency by leaders of the ruling party to portray those who criticise them as being in cahoots with the opposition. - Sapa

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