- Cosatu’s 14th national elective conference, characterised by strained relations with the ANC, culminated in the federation issuing a stern warning to the governing party.
- Re-elected Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi said if the ANC wished to win the 2024 elections, the party needed to start taking workers’ concerns seriously.
- The federation is still to determine whether to support the ANC or the SACP during the 2024 elections.
Following an elective congress that laid bare the cracks between the tripartite alliance, re-elected Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi warned the ANC that workers’ patience was running thin.
Losi said: “If the ANC wants to win the 2024 elections, they must listen to the working class.
“Workers are angry at the behaviour of some in government and in the ANC and have time and again raised their cries. This was evident during the 2016 and 2021 local elections as well as at the May Day rally [where Ramaphosa was booed by workers who would not allow him to address them] and at countless other times.
“It is time our colleague listen,” said Losi.
She warned that Cosatu would “wage a relentless battle in defence of workers’ hard won rights and collective rights”, adding that the government needs to honour the last leg of the 2018 public sector bargaining council agreement that it had reneged on.
“No employer, be it government, an SOE, or in the private sector, will be allowed to undermine collective bargaining without facing the wrath of workers, our affiliates, and Cosatu,” said Losi.
The re-elected Cosatu president was giving the closing address at the Cosatu’s 14th elective congress, whose last day saw delegates vote on whether to support the ANC or the SACP during the 2024 elections.
The vote came after SACP general secretary Solly Mapaila, during his message of support at the conference on Tuesday, said the Communist Party was ready to contest elections, and it was about time they stopped urging workers to vote for “criminals” and instead place their trust in his organisation.
The SACP has contested and won elections at the local government level but has always canvassed support for the ANC during national elections.
Losi said, “This conference has reaffirmed its support for the SACP, the vanguard party, and the need for it to contest elections, it’s voice must be heard."
She, however, said the outcome of Thursday’s vote would only be made public after the federation’s central executive committee met and discussed the matter and union members had a chance to deliberate on it.
Part of the frustration expressed by workers over the years has been Cosatu and the SACP’s skewed relationship with the ANC, with the two alliance partners seen as not having any real power when it comes to the ANC’s alleged involvement in state capture and other corrupt activities.
Losi acknowledged that when Cosatu entered the conference, “our detractors said Cosatu was a spent force, a relic of the past and of no consensus to the struggles of the working class.
“We have proven this message of doom to be a worthless slogan as we have shown that we are united as an organisation,” she said.
Losi further cautioned it was unacceptable to “normalise a 43% unemployment rate and the levels of poverty and iniquity” currently faced by most people in the country.
She stressed that Cosatu would no longer sit back as state-owned entities such as Eskom continued to fail.
“Government must give the necessary support to Eskom to slash its debt burden, to ramp up its maintenance, and to invest in its own generation capacity.
“Cosatu with NUM will continue to work relentlessly to defend Eskom as a publicly-owned entity,” said Losi.