Jack Bloom MPL
DA Gauteng Legislature Caucus Leader
There are many things I admire in COSATU’s general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.
He is unafraid to speak his mind in very blunt terms. You can sense his burning sincerity, his passion to right the wrongs of society.
He is not one to betray his humble origins, unlike so many in power today.
He has been superb in condemning corruption, saying it is “growing like wild fire in the veld.”
He also opposes provisions in the Protection of Information Bill that will stifle whistle-blowers who expose corruption.
Much of his ire against the Gauteng e-tolls is because he suspects that it has enriched politically connected people.
The setting up of Corruption Watch by COSATU is an excellent initiative. I can see why Vavi is a hero to many people. But his anti-corruption record is not unblemished.
The Scorpions were highly effective in fighting corruption that implicated high-level politicians, which is why they were disbanded.
Shamefully, Vavi supported the dissolution of the Scorpions in line with a COSATU Congress resolution. This stance was linked to his fervent support for Jacob Zuma against then-president Thabo Mbeki. He said: “Because Zuma is one of us … we are prepared to lay (down) our lives and to shoot and kill”.
The truth is that COSATU’s meddling in internal ANC politics has cost this country dearly. And many of COSATU’s policy positions would lead this country into economic ruin. We desperately need to make it easier to hire people, especially the unskilled, but COSATU actually wants labour laws tightened up.
COSATU wants to ban labour brokers, but this would lead to hundreds of thousands losing their jobs. Their opposition to the Youth Wage Subsidy denies opportunities for young people to get on the first step of the job ladder.
Vavi comments: “Our message to the cowards and opportunists in the DA is to come march to us and tell us that half a loaf is better than no bread at all.” So he would rather have no loaf at all, which makes no logical sense.
COSATU looks after its own members very well, but this is at a high cost to those who have no job at all. Research by economist Mike Schussler shows that unskilled and semi-skilled workers in the public service are paid way more than other countries. Cleaners in South Africa’s civil service earn more than teachers in India and Brazil. Incredibly, comparing real purchasing power, an average Eskom employee gets 40% more pay than the average German professor with two PhDs.
This imbalance prices unskilled labour out of the market. And government’s ballooning wage bill squeezes out spending that would help the poor.
Vavi seems to realise that COSATU-affiliated teachers often don’t do their job, but has done little to rectify this.
He calls for accountability from government ministers when they mess up, but where’s his accountability on this issue?
He should fervently support the performance standards for teachers that the SA Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) opposes.
Their intransigence is killing the future for children who won’t get skills for work in a modern economy.
Where is your voice on this, Mr Vavi?
Continue your good work protesting government corruption, but fix COSATU’s ills too!