Cosatu President S’dumo Dlamini has reason to be worried. He was forced to convene next week’s Cosatu special national congress by the unions who clearly want him out of his position. Despite getting rid of his chief opponents, metalworkers union Numsa and former Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, Dlamini is not certain how much influence and support they have amongst the delegates who will attend the congress. He is also not certain how many of the rebel unions allied to Numsa, who have been participating in Cosatu meetings on an on-off basis, will show up and then try to push their agenda at the congress. The major issue on their list is likely to be the reversal of Numsa and Vavi’s expulsions.
Dlamini had obviously been fired up at the recent alliance summit called by President Jacob Zuma. One of the main reasons the summit was convened was to discuss the divisions in Cosatu and Dlamini and his supporters were tasked with keeping the door firmly closed to the troublemakers and not losing more support or grip on the federation.
But as the special congress approaches, paranoia has set in. Speaking at the SACP special congress underway in Johannesburg this week, Dlamini said there was a “huge offensive directed at the workers, the working class and in particular against the progressive organisations known to be the genuine representatives of the working class”.
He said the Cosatu leaders had received reports “with evidence of written documents” of a “well funded plan which runs into millions”. The plan apparently includes deploying people to divide unions at a provincial level, to bus in non-delegates who will picket on the sidelines of the special congress, and also stage a walk-out if things do not happen their way. “All this is based on the realisation that the plan to steal away Cosatu has failed and there is now an open intention to cause chaos within our ranks including disrupting the special national congress”, Dlamini said.
He claimed R500,000 had been set aside to ensure the removal of Cosatu second deputy president Zingiswa Losi and R250,000 to disrupt the Cosatu special congress. “Our conclusion is that they will buy a lot of alcohol and even drugs and feed them to workers so they can cause disruptions at the congress. We are prepared for all these,” Dlamini said.
The mechanics of this plot is not quite clear. Will there be a party venue near Gallagher Estate at which delegates will be inebriated and then dispatched to cause disruptions or will highly paid undercover operative be hired to infiltrate the congress and slip drugs into the bottled water? Whatever it is, Dlamini said Cosatu has put security measures in place to ensure that delegates are safe.
The conspiracy might seem bizarre but if there is a rebellion at the congress, at least Dlamini can explain it as the delegates being drunk. The possibility that workers might be independent-minded and would not succumb to being drugged in order to have political views on the state of Cosatu was apparently not factored in to the conspiracy.
It is not only Cosatu delegates who are under threat.
SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande says his life is in danger. No, it is not that he is being force fed alcohol like the Cosatu delegates and made to talk nonsense.
Nzimande told the SACP special congress that his criticism of the deal between the SABC and Multichoice had placed his life in danger. “My life and that of national treasurer are under threat, including physical threat for criticising the SABC…Why should we be forced into watching DSTV and its repeat programmes as the only private platform? The SABC has been engulfed into Multichoice and its monopoly, we have fought to liberate the SABC from the National Party, we must fight Naspers for its monopoly of private television,” Nzimande was quoted by Independent Online.
Who the would-be assassins are is not clear. Nzimande accused City Press of being hellbent on investigating him because of his criticism of the SABC. City Press is in the Media24 stable, which is owned by Naspers, which is Multichoice’s corporate parent. That is a pretty long line of conspirators wanting to kill or investigate Nzimande. Or perhaps the assassin is Hlaudi Motsoeneng, who apparently is also not on Nzimande’s Christmas card list.
“Let us confront Naspers for its monopoly of private paid TV,” Nzimande told the SACP delegates. “Why should we be forced to watch DSTV and its repeats?”
Why indeed? And admittedly, watching repeats, especially 1980s series, can make you wish someone would kill you.
Nzimande congratulated ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe for being a “revolutionary” for criticising the judiciary, even if it earned him the title of Mampara of the Week. Mantashe had elaborated on the alliance statement that there was an emerging trend of “judicial over-reach”. He said there was a drive in some courts to “create chaos for governance”.
Nzimande once again stitched together his claim of an “anti-majoritarian liberal offensive”.
“If the media want us to respect them, they must also respect our views on the judiciary,” he said. “Those in the newspapers want to weaken us [the alliance]. We need a broad front. Without the alliance, we would not be where we are today. Part of the offensive we are facing today is because the neo-liberals are not happy [with the successes] of the alliance,” Nzimande was quoted by the Mail & Guardian.
The neo-liberals have to suck on the roaring success the alliance now is, particularly after its bonding session-cum-pep rally. They are a united force attacking everyone from judges who dare to make rulings consistent with the Constitution to newspapers investigating someone for something vaguely related to something else. Maybe. And if anyone dares to buy a worker a beer next week, prepare to be exposed by the Cosatu leadership as this being part of the quarter of a million rand project to disrupt their congress.
The counterrevolution will never succeed with these guys in charge. Be warned. DM
Photo: Cosatu’s S’dumo Dlamini, ANC’s Gwede Mantashe and SACP’s Blade Nzimande.
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The Hindenburg had a smoking room.