11 December 2007

Change, but what change?

Karima Brown and Amy Musgrave have tackled the question of the SACP’s and COSATU’s resolutions concerning the future of the Alliance (See the first link below. The image on the right is allegedly a sketch of a "triad" diagram made by GWF Hegel). They write that “COSATU has put forward several options”. Our understanding up to now has been that COSATU has a firm decision, not options, to pursue an “Alliance Pact” that would bind the Alliance together into a monolith.

COSATU’s decisions were made in its CC and subsequent CEC.

The Party, on the other hand, does have options, and is keeping them open at least until a special Congress, to be held not later than July, 2008. These options include polite consideration of COSATU’s proposal, and also (what Brown and Musgrave note), that “The SACP would contest state power in elections in the context of a reconfigured alliance.”

But the matter cannot just be left there. The position of the SACP and that of COSATU are not compatible. Something is going to have to give. The Alliance is either going to be the monolith that COSATU is looking for, or it is going to include two parliamentary parties and a trade union centre, which means that it cannot possibly be a monolith of the kind that COSATU envisages. Let us hope that Brown and Musgrave are going to return to this question and apply their journalistic skills to it, a bit more.

NEHAWU seems more aware of the true problematic of the moment. In the last sentence of its statement, made yesterday, it calls for: “an urgent Alliance Summit immediately after the Limpopo conference to discuss the outcomes of the COSATU Congress and its Central Committee, the SACP Congress and the ANC Conference.” This seems to imply a realisation that the three Alliance partners are not yet reconciled. The job remains to be done, and will not be done at Polokwane, but can only be done after Polokwane.

Tabloid-size newspapers are presumed to be more sensationalist, for some reason. COSATU GS Zwelinzima Vavi fed the tabloids yesterday with his remarks about womanisers, made “off the cuff” during his speech at Cooke 2 Mine, Bekkersdal on Sunday. Two of the tabloid reports are linked below.

SACP GS Dr Blade Nzimande also made a speech on the same occasion, which we carried yesterday (
click here to open it).

Vavi’s official text for this speech, released by e-mail (under embargo) before the event, is our final item, linked below. In it, Vavi does not mention the Alliance Pact but only says: “…we need a leadership collective that can take the alliance serious and be ready to engage.” But in its third last paragraph it mentions the other bone of contention in the Alliance, which is COSATU’s plan to have a Conference of the Left, in September 2008 (and to have a Commissiion on Socialism sitting before then). It says the following:

“COSATU is organising the conference of the left as part of the task to clarify ourselves on what we want and how we should arrive to our vision. We will engage the party the ANC and other left forces as part of preparation.”

This constitutes a public admission that the Alliance partners, and specifically the SACP, have not been consulted on COSATU’s left-cum-socialist conference project, and that this project is unfinished business with a very uncertain outcome.

Click on these links:

Mbeki or Zuma, alliance will change, Brown and Amy, B Day (789 words)

NEHAWU calls for Alliance Summit after Polokwane (610 words)

Mbeki men are womanisers, Ido Lekota, Sowetan (346 words)

Womanisers want 50-50, Xolani Xundu, Times (622 words)

COSATU GS Z Vavi speech text for Bekkersdal 9 December 2007 (1675 words)


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