Delegates on day two of Cosatu’s national congress taking place in Midrand, Johannesburg, said they could no longer trust the ANC to transform the economy to the advantage of the working class.
Delegates spent time drafting their divorce papers from the ANC, which they have accused of continuing to pursue a neoliberal economic trajectory. This comes a day after they humiliated the ANC’s national chairperson, Gwede Mantashe, refusing him to address them.
Workers said they had enough of a tone-deaf governing party, which refused to implement in government what was agreed to within the tripartite alliance.
They now want the SA Communist Party (SACP) to take on the ANC and contest the upcoming national elections in 2024.
While delegates supported the idea of the SACP contesting the elections, some advocated for a consultative process to iron out all issues, while others called for an immediate declaration on this.
A representative of Nehawu [National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union] said the conference had to decide immediately, which led to a vote being called.
“This moment is the right one to put the necessary temperature to turn an egg into a chicken because the working class is under siege. We can’t be continuously deferring an immediate responsibility that we have as Cosatu.
[If we take this decision to the consultation process], we are delaying the party to prepare to go into that mode of a direct ballot because, by the time we are convened, all parties would have released their manifestos,” he said.
General secretary of the SACP Solly Mapaila warned the ANC to reverse its neoliberal economic policies that were detrimental to the working class. He said workers must contest the ANC within the alliance to make sure that their views were heard and implemented by the ruling party.
“This revolution is also facing a serious problem of [owners’] commitment to implement neoliberal economic trajectory.”
He added that the ANC was not working in its current form and needed to be realigned.
“We will have to accept that we will free ourselves by ourselves; no one will free us as the working class. We must sharpen the class contradictions. It is out of sharpening these contradictions that we’re strategically going forward in favour of the working class We also have to highlight the configuration of the alliance and drive consciously agreed frameworks of organisational renewal, and contesting the ANC as a class force will become critical.”
Mapaila said the ANC government’s about-turn on the wage agreement signed in 2018 showed a lack of respect for the political decisions of the alliance. He added that the SACP would not be a party to that.
“Workers must not be nice to government when they renege on an agreed framework. The same should happen to workers in the private sector. They must also not be nice to capitalists when they renege on an agreed wage framework. It is disrespecting to workers and our revolution.”