SADTU divisions laid bare

By Drum Digital
02 October 2014

President Jacob Zuma’s plea for unity at the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union have not stopped cracks within the country’s biggest teachers’ union from showing.

President Jacob Zuma’s plea for unity at the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union have not stopped  cracks within the country’s biggest teachers’ union from showing.

No sooner had Zuma left than the dissident province of the Eastern Cape tried to frustrate the elective conference by raising procedural objections to the indaba currently underway in Boksburg.

One of the contentious debates involved the adoption of a rule that forbids conference delegates from wearing paraphernalia bearing the images of living leaders or insults other members. Images of dead former leaders are, however, permissible.

But the Eastern Cape branch lost the fight each time its motions were put to the vote by a show of hands.

Addressing the conference earlier, Zuma intimated that Cosatu and its union were in “the eye of a storm” rocking the Tripartite Alliance’s “revolution”.

He suggested the ANC had also grappled with “challenges” since its Polokwane conference, and the whole alliance had not been spared them.

“When the problems are there they are like a storm. Those who are in the eye of the storm receive more damage.

“My impression is that Cosatu in the recent past has also been in the eye of the storm.  But it’s going to survive it. They are feeling the bigger impact of that storm,” he said.

He then pleaded for unity, saying the “challenges” facing the Tripartite Alliance were not there simply because the ancestors had turned on it.

“The unity of the alliance is a necessary precondition for the advancement of the National Democratic Revolution.

“As you deliberate at this important conference, I urge you to focus on the unity of SADTU. You need to build a united and even stronger SADTU that will continue to support the mission of your organisation, the ANC which has declared education an apex priority for the country.

“We should also keep focused on the mission of building and strengthening the ANC so that it can remain focused on leading the country to prosperity,” he said.

The Eastern Cape has been at odds with the union’s mother body since it suspended Sadtu president Thobile Ntola for allowing then suspended Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi to address members of the union last year. While Vavi has since been reinstated, Ntola has remained out in the cold.

The congress is expected to elect the union’s new leadership and elect new leaders.

Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini also called for the unity of Cosatu, and a single labour federation for the whole country.

“Workers expect nothing from us…other than the unity of the federation,” he said.

He warned against the tendency of groups to drag union leadership to courts when they had disagreements, and said this should be arrested.

He said Cosatu was making progress in bringing about unity. ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa is facilitating discussions among the warring Cosatu factions on behalf of the ANC.

Vavi is expected to table a report on the progress being made when Cosatu holds its mid-term conference in November.

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