‘Talks underway to make United Front a political party’

Vavi says Maimane expressed interest in joining forces with United Front to unseat the ANC.

FILE: Former Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Former Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi says there is mounting pressure on the ground for the United Front workers' union to become a political party and there are talks internally to make it happen.

While Vavi has met with Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane to discuss the Nelson Mandela Bay metro, the DA says they are not looking at coalitions yet and believe they can win the metro outright.

But Vavi says a polling survey conducted by IPSOS indicates that there will not be an outright winner in the city and parties may need to form coalitions.

Vavi says Maimane expressed interest in joining forces with the United Front to unseat the African National Congress (ANC), however, he adds it would be an odd coalition and most unlikely.

"There are talks in Nelson Mandela metro in response to that pressure [to] put up independent candidates that can be controlled through structures of the United Front."


Meanwhile, Vavi says he would never associate himself with the DA and has cautioned the United Front against forming a coalition with the party.

The Sunday Times is reporting this morning that the opposition party is trying to woo Vavi as its deputy mayoral candidate in Nelson Mandela Bay.

Vavi says the meeting was to discuss an Ipsos survey.

He adds while he's angry with the ANC, he would never consider teaming up with the DA.

"No, I am a worker leader and I proudly associate with the policies that have been advanced by civil society."

Vavi says a coalition between the DA and the United Front wouldn't work as their policies are too different.

"It's like water and oil, it will not mix and will be an odd alliance."

At the same time, the DA has confirmed it held a meeting with Vavi but says there were no talks of a coalition.

DA spokesperson Refiloe Ntsekhe says it's the party's prerogative to meet with whoever they want.

"This is a free country and we will meet with different party members because we have different relationships around the country."

However, Vavi apparently admitted to paper that he was approached by Maimane about the possibility of a coalition, after an Ipsos survey revealed that no party would win the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro.

Vavi says he referred Maimane to the United Front, which was formed after the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa's (Numsa) breakaway from Cosatu.

Ntsekhe meanwhile says such talks will only be held after the local government elections in August.

"We can never go and start discussing a coalition after the elections, we believe we are going into this election to win it outright."

She says the party could meet with other political role-players in the near future.