The CWU and SACP on Tuesday exchanged criticism over comments allegedly made by the party’s general secretary Blade Nzimande regarding union funding.
The Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) claimed Nzimande had said unions had to stop helping one another financially in times of need, and chastised him for the comment.
“Nzimande’s remarks are a clear indication of his ignorance regarding the noble principle of working class and trade union solidarity as correctly captured in Cosatu’s rallying slogan ‘an injury to one is an injury to all’,” the union’s general secretary Aubrey Tshabalala said in a statement.
“The problem with Mr Nzimande is that unlike many previous SACP general secretaries, he has no proven trade record as a worker leader hence his tendency to make ill-informed outbursts which are not so consistent with the thinking and in the interest of the working people of this country.”
The remarks were apparently made at the SA Communist Party’s launch of its “second radical phase of the national democratic revolution” discussion documents last week.
The CWU accused Nzimande of being hypocritical. He criticised financial co-operation among unions when the SACP had been a major beneficiary of cash injections from the Congress of SA Trade Unions and individual unions in the past.
The SACP in turn criticised the CWU for “attacking” Nzimande and distorting his comments. It said Nzimande had commended unions which helped each other with “solidarity funding”, like that which the SA Clothing and Textile Workers Union provided to the Food and Allied Workers’ Union at the height of farmworkers’ strikes in the Western Cape last year.
Nzimande had condemned “factional funding… [which had] nothing to do with working class struggles on the ground, and everything to do with palace politics in which an injury to one is a factional advantage to another”.
“The personalised attack on comrade Blade Nzimande that ‘he has no proven trade [union] record as a worker leader’ reflects a narrow and sectarian understanding of what it means to be a leader of the communist party and working class,” the SACP said.
Its former leaders Chris Hani and Joe Slovo also had no “trade record”.
The SACP was the main representative of the working class and had to be at all centres of power, including government.
The party said the CWU should have communicated its concerns with the SACP to avoid “embarrassing errors and distortions” in its statement about Nzimande. SAPA