Elijah Barayi (left), and general secretary Jay Naidoo
Cape Town - The structures of the tripartite alliance are not what they should be, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said in Cape Town on Thursday.
"Except for during elections and in the build up to conferences, the alliance does not have a coherent and consistent programme of action," said Ramaphosa in a speech prepared for delivery at the Elijah Barayi memorial lecture in Salt River.
Barayi was the first president of the Congress of SA Trade Unions launched after years of negotiations in Durban on November 30 1985.
Ramaphosa, as secretary general of the National Union of Mineworkers at the time, was part of the negotiations which united unions under one federation for their launch rally at Kings Park in Durban on December 1 1985. At the time the apartheid government was cracking down on any form of mobilisation against it.
Some unions did not join because they did not agree with Cosatu's decision to align itself with the cause of the then-banned African National Congress and the United Democratic Movement which forwarded the ANC's anti-apartheid ideals. The third partner in the Alliance is the SA Communist Party.
Cosatu's alliance with the ANC has been sorely tested over the past years because of policy differences and growing criticism of President Jacob Zuma, a point Ramaphosa did not shy away from.
'Weakened by factionalism'
"We must acknowledge that most of our structures have felt, in some way or other, the negative effects of political incumbency," he said.
"Many have been weakened by factionalism as comrades compete against each other for positions and resources.
"This is not the alliance that Elijah Barayi worked to build and which he and his comrades bequeathed to us," Ramaphosa told those gathered at the Western Cape Cosatu Shop Stewards Council.
The ANC in the province is in the midst of disputes over its candidate lists for the August 3 local government elections. A manifesto launch in the province that was due to be addressed by Ramaphosa was cancelled at the eleventh hour earlier in June.
Ramaphosa called on all structures of the alliance - "every ANC branch, every Cosatu shop steward council" to restore the alliance.
"It is incumbent on every leader, every member, every councillor and every deployee to consider how best they can emulate the greats like Elijah Barayi in building a movement that advances the interests of the workers and poor."
Dogged by Marikana
For younger generations Ramaphosa's early role as as a union activist is overshadowed by his crossing to the other side to various top positions in the business world, including with New Africa Investments Limited, MTN and as the licence holder for McDonalds in South Africa. He put his assets into a blind trust when he took the position of deputy president.
Many also blame him for the police shooting 34 people dead during a strike on Rustenburg's platinum belt in Marikana on 16 August 2012.
Ramaphosa was a director and shareholder of Lonmin at the time, and had written to then-police minister Nathi Mthethwa to complain about the strikers' criminal acts.
He was cleared by the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the massacre, but the events dog him in Parliament with the Economic Freedom Fighters constantly reminding him of the fateful day.
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