The ANC can learn how to run a successful national congress from Cosatu, the trade union federation said. File photo: Bongiwe Mchunu

The ANC can learn how to run a successful national congress from Cosatu, the trade union federation said on Friday.

"The ANC can learn from Cosatu. In the run-up to our September... congress, the media was awash with unfounded predictions of fights and splits, and even blood on the floor," general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said at a Daily Maverick conference in Johannesburg.

"In the event the workers' parliament emerged more united than ever, with a leadership returned unopposed." During his address Vavi mistakenly said the African National Congress's conference had already happened.

"The one topic which is absolutely certain to come up this morning is the ANC conference in Mangaung, now just three weeks ago.

"Three weeks away, I meant. I wish it (the conference) was gone," he joked after the slip-up.

Vavi said critical issues like poverty, inequality, the state of education and health had not still not been rectified since the country became democratic in 1994.

"How I wish every song, every poem, every discussion in every political party and civil society formation would be about this unfolding tragedy.

"How I wish that the ANC delegates to its 53rd national conference in Mangaung would be preoccupied with answering the central question of today." He said most ANC members were merely preoccupied with singing about the party's leadership in the lead-up to the conference.

"I appeal to the ANC delegates, government and business to stop listening to rating agencies, but rather listen to what the mine and farmworkers and the people in the street are saying." He said the ANC needed to move away from being called the "Absolutely No Consequences" (party) to become the African National Congress again.

"If South Africa will continue to deteriorate... (it will be) not only a laughing stock of the world, but another basket case like other African nations. Another example of a failed revolution."

When asked why he was asking for the ANC to move away from having "no consequences", but still backed President Jacob Zuma for a second term, Vavi initially joked by saying: "No comment".

"The ANC SG (secretary general Gwede Mantashe) called Cosatu to order, saying it has no right to interfere in the leadership debate.

"We agree, and the order is sustained," he said with a smile.

The trade union federation said earlier it would talk to deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe to ask him not to accept nominations for him to replace Zuma as party leader. - Sapa