‘Unhappy’ Cosatu not yet ready to dump the ANC

Cosatu delegates singing at their congress. Picture: Jabu Kumalo
Cosatu delegates singing at their congress. Picture: Jabu Kumalo

Cosatu may not be ready to dump the ANC for an alternative elections vehicle like the SA Communist Party but workers’ leaders are increasingly unhappy that the governing party does not show a genuine commitment to champion the interests of their constituency.

These sentiments were contained in the booklet of proposed resolutions prepared on the third day of Cosatu’s national congress in Midrand in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

However, the union’s affiliates have been urged to continue throwing their weight behind the ANC in the upcoming general elections next year through support with finances, ideas and human resources.

Cosatu is expected to outline its final position on the discussions during the closing session of congress on Thursday.

Cosatu’s biggest union, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), decried the “neo-liberal” perspective that has gained “increasing influence over the ANC-led alliance’s national transformation project” and urged workers to reassert their interests.

“The alliance continues to be strategically incoherent and functionally weak and unable to effectively influence society and statute policy in line with its decisions,” said Nehawu.

The public workers’ union wanted “an urgent reconfiguration of the alliance” which could mean a review of the ANC’s position as the leader of the alliance.

The second biggest union, the National Union of Mineworkers (Num), lamented the ANC’s weakening electoral performance as well as corruption within the party’s ranks.

The union said “the ANC has not fully recovered from its mobile internal strife”, citing that as a weakness because “the full discharge of transformation agenda requires a strong and united ANC”.

It added that “corruption continues to be the evil that gobbles the state capacity to provide services to the poor” and that there were no consequences for graft in the ANC and in some cases those implicated were given promotions in government.

“Corrupt individuals serving government are protected on the pretext that they remain innocent until proven guilty by the courts.”

The union said the ANC lacked decisive action against corruption, which “cements a wrong perception within society that the ANC as an organisation condones corruption”.

As a result, the party could not be trusted to run a clean and caring government.

The union was also among those who wanted a thorough probe on the SACP’s ambition to contest the elections against the ANC, citing Free State’s Metsimaholo local municipality by-elections as an example.

Num said a political task team should be set up to look deeper into the matter and give guidance to Cosatu whether or not to follow the party.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said opposition parties were making headway in the federation’s space and winning workers away from the ANC.

The union said the state capture allegations were evidence that the workers were being used by ANC leaders as “voting tokens without any benefits”.

Business was more happy than the workers about President Cyril Ramaphosa’s rise to power, the CWU added.

It also agreed that the alliance needed to be reconfigured.

Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) said the ANC’s electoral performance has been on “a constant decline since the democratic breakthrough”, reminding congress that Cosatu has previously considered the possibility that the SACP could contest elections on a socialist ticket.

“The alliance in its current form is dysfunctional and is utilised narrowly by the ANC to solicit our support for electioneering purposes,” said Popcru.

Labour minister Mildred Oliphant told the Cosatu delegates that the ANC was on the side of workers, citing as an example progress made in dealing with labour brokers and the signing of the national minimum wage.

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