Cosatu does the right thing

Something very interesting on the sideline of the resignation of Bobby Godsell as chairman of the Eskom board and the non-resignation of Jacob Maroga as CEO.

If a situation is impossibly confusing, or your view is obscured for some reason, then look around and check where others are looking – look at the stances they adopt.

The Black Management Forum and the ANC Youth League have lined up to accuse Godsell and the Eskom board of racism; the state-owned enterprises have become a  “slaughterhouse” for black professionals bemoans the BMF.

On the other hand, and to its enormous credit, you have Cosatu (in the person of Zwelinzima Vavi) defending Godsell and the attempts (Godsell has led) to make Eskom equal to the task of providing South Africa with adequate and sustainable power.

Cosatu versus the BMF and the ANCYL? It’s not often that organisations reflect their ideology and class interests so precisely.

This situation  looks very much like the industrial working class versus crony capitalist wannabes.

Cosatu is still  controlled by the interests of workers employed in the real economy of minerals extraction, power generation and manufacturing (although these interests compete with those of public sector workers who often have different imperatives). The Black Management Forum and the ANC Youth League are political formations whose only interest is in ”leveraging’ preferential access to the state for the purpose of the advancement of its members.

Zwelinzima Vavi must be deeply concerned about economic growth – it is the imperative placed on him by the position he occupies. The imperative of the BMF (and to some degree, the ANCYL) is to maximise the advantage its their members derive from BBBEE and employment equity laws – and from their proximity to political power.

I think this fault line is fundamental to where we are heading and struggles here will constantly alter and trim our direction. I also think, in this instance, Cosatu is on the side of the angels; standing, as it often does, against the alarming spread of vampire capitalism in this country.

3 thoughts on “Cosatu does the right thing

  1. What are the figures? My impression is that petty-bourgeois elements / intellectuals (teachers, nurses, etc.) have long gained the ascendancy within Cosatu.
    Otherwise, I agree, its a useful reminder of the role of class in understanding such issues. But there’s another very useful lesson to be learnt here: if you want to understand why Zuma does not want to open a race debate, look no further. (Hard to fathom to non-African leftwing middle-class elements, but) Maroga reflects views on white supervision by stealth that is real to any African active in the working economy – yet he plays this simple truth utterly opportunistically and in a totally skewed, out-of-proportion way relative to other concerns and demands. Its a no-win situation.

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