President Jacob Zuma says the relationship between ANC and Cosatu was “like a shield and a spear, one defensive and the other offensive”.
“If you do not have one you are in trouble. They cannot part ways. It is an understanding we should have about the alliance,” Zuma told delegates in his keynote address at the Cosatu national congress in Midrand yesterday.
Before it was expelled from Cosatu in 2014, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) called for Cosatu to abandon the alliance, claiming the ANC government used workers as voting cattle but pursued policies that were not in workers’ favour.
The SA Communist Party (SACP) in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal had also called for the alliance to split because of public spats and political battles between leaders of both parties in the respective provinces.
Cosatu had also threatened to withdraw its support for the ANC in the next year’s municipal elections if the national treasury proceeded with implementing new laws that would affect owners of provident and pension funds.
Zuma said today the alliance partners – including the SACP – needed each other and that the relationship was a symbiotic one. He said leaders could not determine the future of the alliance depending on their moods.
He said the alliance partners did not have the luxury of disunity. “By so doing you defeat yourselves before you defeat the enemy,” he said.
He said each alliance partner had a specific role to play and Cosatu was “not a political party”. He said the federation’s primary mandate was to champion worker issues and leaders must be able to distinguish between politics and issues of workers.
“Let us not allow those who do not like us to divide us,” said Zuma. He said the ANC hoped that Cosatu would be stronger after the congress.