Cosatu’s deputy president, Zingiswa Losi, has been elected unopposed as president of the trade union federation and will be officially announced as the federation’s first female leader on Thursday.
The electoral commission announced Losi’s election on day two of the organisation’s 13th congress on Tuesday.
Losi, who becomes the first woman to lead the trade union, cut her teeth in politics while she was still studying when she became a member of the Congress of South African Students.
She also served in the ANC Youth League structures in the Eastern Cape and in the South African Defence Force for three years.
After resigning from the army, Losi was employed by Ford, a car manufacturer in Port Elizabeth in 2002, as an operator in the engine components and assemble division.
She became a quality inspector and, in the same year, a Numsa shop steward at the plant. At the same time, she served in various Numsa committees such as finance and education in the Eastern Cape region as well as a senior leader of the federation.
In 2009, at Cosatu’s 10th congress, Losi beat Boitumelo Louise Thipe, of the South African Commercial Catering and Allied Workers’ Union to the post of second deputy president of the federation.
In 2014 Numsa and eight of Cosatu’s 18 affiliates plotted Losi’s dismissal as Cosatu’s second deputy president accusing her of not towing the line concerning the change in Numsa’s political direction.
Losi joined the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union despite never being a member of the police or a prison official. This allowed her to become a shop steward so that she could keep her position in Cosatu.
Since then there were numerous attempts to get her dismissed, with union members saying she was holding on to her position unconstitutionally.
However Cosatu’s central executive committee voted for her to stay on.
The outcome of Losi’s unopposed election marks a milestone in South Africa’s largest trade federation’s history.
Since the inception of the union almost 35 years ago, the federation has been dominated by an all-male cast especially the positions of presidency and top structures within the union.
Outgoing president Sdumo Dlamini said the elections agency would to officially announce the federation’s new leadership on Thursday.
Micheal Shingange was also elected unopposed as the first deputy president while Thipe is expected to take over Losi’s position as second deputy president of the federation.
Bheki Ntshalintshali retains his position as Cosatu general-secretary Solly Phetoe was elected unopposed to the positions of deputy general secretary respectively while Losi replaces Dlamini who decided not to stand for re-election.