Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. Photo: Bongiwe Mchunu

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has said he will present “the real report” when the trade union federation central committee meets later this month, and declined to be drawn on what he said was “leaked inappropriately by an ill-disciplined member”.

Vavi is reported to have warned that South Africa could become a “banana republic” if the ANC Youth League succeeded in removing President Jacob Zuma and ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe from their positions in the ruling party, according to a report in the Sunday Times.

He reportedly also said relations between Cosatu and the ANC had unravelled before the ruling party’s national general council meeting last September.

Vavi said on Sunday it wasn’t clear which version of his political report formed the basis for the article. “I’m not denying it. I’m not confirming it. I can’t comment.”

It is understood the Cosatu leader would have compiled a review of the past two years as part of his political assessment and distributed it to union leaders and structures for their input ahead of Cosatu’s central committee meeting on June 27.

One union official said the newspaper report was based on a draft.

Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven said that according to long-standing practice, the federation would “not comment on a report based on leaked documents”, but added that all central committee plenary sessions were open to the media, which had “been invited to attend … and to report on its discussions and decisions”.

Neither the ANC nor the SACP wanted to comment, with the ANC saying “there’s no confirmation that this is an official report”.

That all is not well between Cosatu and the ANC is not a secret.

Although Cosatu at its last conference voted to support the tripartite alliance, there have been several public spats with the ruling party.

Vavi and other senior officials have been vocal in criticising tenderpreneurs – dubbed “the predator elite” – and the government’s lack of action in rooting out the tendency.

Cosatu has called for an urgent investigation into the alleged misuse of R1 million of taxpayers’ money by Co-operative Governance Minister Sicelo Shiceka, who remains on sick leave.

Last week, Cosatu and the National Union of Mineworkers called for a freeze on sweeping changes to the boards of Denel and Eskom, where just two board members survived, pending proper consultations.

ANC spokesman Keith Khoza said neither Cosatu nor Vavi had raised any issues for discussion at bilateral meetings or at the tripartite alliance meeting before last month’s local government elections.

It was “difficult to talk via a third party, the media”, he added.

Regarding comments about the ANC Youth League’s reported lobbying against Zuma, Khoza said this was not an issue. The youth league, ANC Women’s League and the veterans held 10 percent of the vote at the ANC’s national conference, where branches made the choice.

“I can say with certainty that ANC branches are not involved in lobbying,” Khoza said, adding that this would start only once provinces began their preparations.

“The focus now is on the ANC’s centenary,” he added.

SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande also did not want to be drawn. “Why do we allow ourselves to be diverted by sensation in the media? Let us focus on the things that could make a difference to the lives of our people.

“I don’t want to debate what we see in the media,” he said.

It is understood that a meeting between the SACP and Cosatu will take place soon. The SACP has repeatedly come under fire from Cosatu over Nzimande’s dual role as general secretary and higher education minister.

The party dismissed this, saying the move was politically strategic as the SACP could not marginalise itself from contesting power in the state when it aimed to build influence across society. - Political Bureau