Mantashe: Don’t gamble with revolution

ANC Secretary-General says unions threatening to leave the alliance are risking the aims of the revolution.

FILE: ANC members held a prayer service outside Luthuli House in Johannesburg to wish Nelson Mandela well while he's recovering in a Pretoria hospital.ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe addressed the crowed. Picture: Sebabatso Mosamo/EWN

BENONI - The ANC says trade unions that threaten to leave the ruling party's alliance are gambling with the revolution and could give way to conservative forces to determine the state's approach to labour relations.

The party's Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe on Wednesday responded to harsh criticism the party's faced in recent weeks most notably by National Union of Metalworkers South Africa (Numsa).

Mantashe spoke at the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru)'s political school in Benoni.

He noted a decision by Numsa to meet later this year to decide if they will support the ANC, and argued that the working class have always backed the ruling party.

"It's a gamble - head or tails - with the revolution. You can't gamble with the revolution because, you leave the space, other conservative forces will close the vacuum."

Breaking away from the ANC could have serious consequences, he says, as the party is a multi-class organisation and, if the working class leave, other interests will fill the void.

Mantashe also warned against union leaders determining who their constituency will vote for in next year's election, saying it's an individual choice.

COSATU'S CULT OF PERSONALITY

At the same time, Mantashe says the current divide between leaders in Cosatu is the result of personality cults and members ignoring the founding principles of the trade union federation.

Cosatu's General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi was placed on special leave last week after admitting to having an extra-marital affair with a junior employee.

Mantashe refused to go into the details of the federation's troubles but warned that the working class will suffer as a result of the running battles.

The founding leaders of Cosatu met with the current leadership on Tuesday and Mantashe says he hopes they were reminded of the federation's principles.

"Once you close your eyes to those founding principles, you're going to see the battles that are running now."

He says Cosatu should be worker-controlled and should not be dominated by individuals, pointing to "the development of a cult of personality" as being behind the battles taking place in the federation.

Although he didn't elaborate on the split within Cosatu, he did criticise several recent statements made by Numsa which has been one of Vavi's biggest supporters.