Cosatu’s ‘Lula Moment’ message to ANC

2012-11-17 22:15
Percy Mabandu
Cosatu is sending a “Lula Moment” message to ANC delegates due to convene at the Magaung conference this December.

The trade union federation hopes to use insights gleaned from what it’s general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, called the “Lula Moment” to effect debate in the ANC’s leadership race.

The “Lula Moment” refers to a radical priority shift during former Brazilian president Luiz Lula da Silva’s second term in office. It saw a move towards pro-poor policies and governance, which saw Brazil improve and change from being the world’s most unequal society, a position now occupied by South Africa.

Some of Da Silva’s social policy hallmarks included minimum wage being raised by 60% in real terms and more cash injections for the poor in the form of social grants.

City Press spoke to Patrick Craven, Cosatu’s spokesperson, after former Brazilian president Da Silva’s address to the federation’s central executive committee in Braamfontein on Saturday.

Da Silva speaks to the union’s leadership as its leading alliance partner is preparing for its 53rd elective conference, where president Jacob Zuma is biding to gain a second term at the helm of power.

His first term in office has often been seen as unsatisfactory by critics in and outside his party. Hence Da Silva’s second-term successes become an apt metaphor for Cosatu and others supporting Zuma’s second-term bid.

Craven says: “We hope that the message from Brazil will reach the ANC delegates as they debate at the party’s conference. It’s not just about getting the president re-elected for the second term, but a change of mind-set and pro-poor policies. It’s a message we are hoping will reach the ANC delegates in Mangaung this December.”

Asked about the sustainability of social grants and the potential of creating state dependency among the poor, Craven points out the positive results in Lula’s Brazil.

“Contrary to what critics said, it didn’t lead to economic stagnation. Instead, the economy boomed because more people had money in their pockets to spend. Silva became the country’s most popular president.”

Craven also celebrated what he called Da Silva’s “expression of strong links with our labour movemen”.

It’s an affinity Craven links to the former Brazilian president’s credentials as a former metal worker and union leader.