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Media Centre  |  COSATU Press Statements

Unite behind new leadership, says COSATU

03-11-07

The Congress of South African Trade Unions rejects the suggestion that President Thabo Mbeki should immediately step down as president of the country in the event that Jacob Zuma were to be elected as the President of the ANC.

As far as COSATU is aware, no such idea has even been discussed, let alone proposed, by any supporters of Jacob Zuma. It would appear to be a mischievous 'canard' planted in the media by prophets of doom or agents provocateurs, who are desperately trying t o create paranoia, foment panic among conference delegates, and give the impression that a Zuma victory will herald a national crisis.

COSATU will oppose the President stepping down before his term of office expires. The ANC was elected by an overwhelming majority in 2004, with a mandate to lead the country for five years. The ANC campaigned not as individuals but as a team and that team has to complete its mandate.

The debate taking place in the ANC is an internal ANC process to adopt new policies and elect a new leadership team which will go to the country in 2009, to seek a new mandate from the voters. There is therefore no need for an early election, as if some op position party had take over the ANC and it requires a new mandate from the voters. It will be the same ANC that won the election in 2004, but one that will have a new leadership and new policies to take to the voters in 2009.

COSATU calls upon all leaders of the ANC and it allies to allow the membership to make their decision and to accept the outcome of the democratic process. The ANC members are not 'confused' or 'drunk' or 'irrational' but making an informed choice on the fu ture policy and leadership of their party. We deplore any suggestion that they are not fully capable of taking the right decision for the movement and the country.

COSATU is totally opposed to the idea floated by some senior member of the ANC Women's League to march in protest against the democratic decision of their own organisation to nominate Jacob Zuma and others for leadership positions. By the same logic all th ose members who lost out in the nomination process in their province should be marching in protest. This shows a contemptuous attitude to the democratic process. The Women's League debated for ten long hours and reached their considered political decision. Some people may not like that decision but should respect it like good democrats.

We call on those promoting the idea of a march to drop it. If they go ahead, there will definitely be counter-marches organised.

COSATU also calls upon all those taking part in the leadership election process to scale down the highly unfortunate levels of personal abuse and mud-slinging. All of us will have to work together to make the conference a success and to unite the movement during and after it.

The emphasis must be on maximum unity beyond Limpopo. There are different views on the way forward, but they need not lead to a crisis. The ANC will prevail for years to come. Let us all debate robustly but not talk as if there is going to be no ANC post-P olokwane.

We must never forget that we are all comrades in the struggle who will have new tasks and challenges after the conference as we prepare to campaign for the 2009 elections. There must be no purging of supporters of those candidates do not win the elections and COSATU pledges that it will accept the conference decisions and work constructively with whoever is elected to implement the new policies adopted by the conference. We have never refused to co-operate with the ANC leadership and never will.

That does not mean however that we will accept the undemocratic practices which have been used in the run-up to the conference, in particular the use of state institutions and the SABC in factional battles. We will also not accept the failure to consult AN C members and Alliance partners, in the name of an imposed 'unity'.

We hope that should Jacob Zuma win, we will see no more of such undemocratic practices and that he will usher in a new era of democratic consultation and transparency.

COSATU also look forward to the adoption of new, progressive policies and the implementation of those policies by government. The only scenario which could rightly be called a crisis would be if the government refused to implement the policies voted for by the conference. Only then would be it be justified to call for the government to step aside, but we earnestly hope that our new leaders will prevent such a crisis from ever occurring.

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