Cosatu’s sup­port of Zuma led to ‘raw deal’

CityPress - - News - HLENGIWE NHLABATHI hlengiwe.nhlabathi@city­

Trade fed­er­a­tion Cosatu be­lieves it was dealt a rot­ten hand after sup­port­ing Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma and his camp’s as­cen­dancy to lead­er­ship at the ANC’s 2007 na­tional con­fer­ence in Polok­wane. Cosatu, which was a key backer of Zuma be­fore and after Polok­wane, says it re­grets be­ing lulled into com­pla­cency and al­low­ing “ne­olib­eral poli­cies” to con­tinue.

In a draft sec­re­tariat re­port penned by Cosatu gen­eral sec­re­tary Bheki Nt­shal­intshali ahead of the four-day cen­tral com­mit­tee sit­ting at the end of next month, the fed­er­a­tion speaks of a “hon­ey­moon pe­riod in which the left axis sus­pended its strug­gles and ... dis­played blind loy­alty, and in­vested its po­lit­i­cal for­tunes to the Polok­wane out­comes and later in Man­gaung”.

In 2012, Zuma se­cured a sec­ond term as ANC pres­i­dent dur­ing the party’s con­fer­ence in Man­gaung.

The re­port harshly crit­i­cises the ANC-led gov­ern­ment for fail­ing to trans­form the apartheid econ­omy.

“The left forces in South Africa led a charge that led to the sweep­ing changes in Polok­wane and dis­lodged, but did not de­feat, the ide­o­logues of ne­olib­er­al­ism in­side the move­ment,” reads the doc­u­ment.

“In the process, the left axis was wit­tingly or un­wit­tingly co-opted as spokes­peo­ple and apol­o­gists to ex­plain the fail­ures of the ne­olib­eral poli­cies in the hope that things were go­ing to change for the bet­ter.”

Cosatu says the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Polok­wane res­o­lu­tions and elec­tion man­i­festo com­mit­ments were sub­sti­tuted with cos­metic changes that did not tam­per with the “fun­da­men­tal struc­ture of the apartheid and colo­nial econ­omy”.

In­stead, the ANC and its al­lies were dis­tracted by a se­ries of mis­takes that placed the gov­ern­ing party on the back foot. These mis­takes contributed to grow­ing De­clin­ing mem­ber­ship among its in­dus­trial af­fil­i­ates is giv­ing Cosatu headaches.

The draft sec­re­tariat re­port penned by gen­eral sec­re­tary Bheki Nt­shal­intshali shows this could al­ter the char­ac­ter of the fed­er­a­tion.

By 2012, pri­vate sec­tor mem­ber­ship had dropped to 61%, while that of the pub­lic sec­tor had risen to 39%.

The sit­u­a­tion is now far worse be­cause, since then, its big­gest af­fil­i­ate – the Na­tional Union of Met­al­work­ers of SA – has been ex­pelled and the Food and Al­lied Work­ers’ Union fol­lowed the met­al­work­ers to the new fed­er­a­tion Saftu, headed by for­mer Cosatu gen­eral sec­re­tary Zwelinz­ima Vavi.

The Cosatu re­port flashes warn­ing lights that this change in dy­nam­ics could weaken the fed­er­a­tion. dis­con­tent, a sense of alien­ation, frus­tra­tion, dis­ap­point­ment and de­spair among South Africans. Nt­shal­intshali uses the han­dling of the Nkandla scan­dal as an ex­am­ple, and he says it should never have hap­pened in the first place. Still, the al­liance, in par­tic­u­lar the ANC, re­fused to learn from its mis­takes.

“The Con­sti­tu­tional Court judg­ment on the Nkandla re­port by the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor that ruled against the coun­try’s pres­i­dent has also cre­ated a sit­u­a­tion in which the revo­lu­tion as a whole has been put on the back foot,” Nt­shal­intshali writes.

His re­port comes as the lead­er­ship bat­tles to con­tain af­fil­i­ates’ ob­jec­tions to Zuma speak­ing at Cosatu’s Worker’s Day cel­e­bra­tions in the Free State. Tra­di­tion­ally, the pres­i­dent of the ANC speaks at the rally along­side the lead­ers of Cosatu and the SA Com­mu­nist Party (SACP).

This week, the Na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion, Health and Al­lied Work­ers’ Union and the SA Demo­cratic Teach­ers’ Union called on the fed­er­a­tion’s top lead­ers to bar Zuma from the rally in line with a re­cent cen­tral ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee de­ci­sion that the pres­i­dent re­sign from of­fice. They were joined by the smaller but vo­cal

Two years ago, ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe earned the wrath of pub­lic sec­tor unions when he warned that, once the trade union fed­er­a­tion slanted to­wards the civil ser­vice, it would be in trou­ble. The con­cern in Cosatu cir­cles is that, be­cause in­dus­trial work­ers are at the coal­face of ex­ploita­tion, they will prob­a­bly be more mil­i­tant. The dom­i­nance by pub­lic sec­tor unions could weaken its stance.

Cosatu’s mem­ber­ship stands at about 1.7 mil­lion. About 2.8 mil­lion work­ers be­long to unions that are not af­fil­i­ated to Cosatu. This means Cosatu has failed to ful­fil its 2003 na­tional con­gress res­o­lu­tion of in­creas­ing mem­ber­ship by 10% ev­ery year.

Cosatu is wor­ried about the fact that 73% of work­ers in South Africa are dis­or­gan­ised; that af­fil­i­ates are Com­mer­cial Work­ers’ Union. Cosatu’s of­fi­cials have re­sponded by say­ing the de­ci­sion only re­lated to Zuma’s pres­i­dency of the repub­lic, so the ANC was free to de­ploy him to the rally.

Amid con­cerns that Zuma could be booed, Cosatu has asked its mem­bers to ap­ply max­i­mum dis­ci­pline.

Cosatu’s strong stance, the sec­re­tariat re­port re­veals, re­lates to a num­ber of de­vel­op­ments that have rat­tled South Africa. These in­clude Zuma’s re­cent Cabi­net reshuf­fle, which hap­pened with­out con­sul­ta­tion of al­liance part­ners and with­out con­sen­sus from the ANC top six, and the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor’s State of Cap­ture re­port, which raised ques­tions about how the Gupta fam­ily had cap­tured some sec­tions of the state, in­clud­ing Zuma.

Oth­ers are the al­leged abuse of state se­cu­rity agen­cies, the ac­cu­sa­tion and later with­drawal of charges against axed fi­nance min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han, the cur­rent con­tested re­gional and provin­cial con­fer­ences in KwaZulu-Na­tal, and the ac­com­pa­ny­ing po­lit­i­cal as­sas­si­na­tions there.

Cosatu also be­moans the func­tion­ing of the al­liance, which it says ex­ists in speeches only, and poach­ing mem­bers from each other; that there is a mut­ing of Cosatu na­tional of­fice bear­ers who in­ter­vene in af­fil­i­ates as they are sub­tly threat­ened with re­moval from of­fice; and that there is a grow­ing “self-serv­ing” cul­ture among lead­ers and per­son­nel.

To deal with its cash crunch and pre­vent splurg­ing on con­gresses, the re­port pro­poses the pos­si­bil­ity of hav­ing in-house Cosatu con­fer­ence fa­cil­i­ties.

In ad­di­tion, the fed­er­a­tion’s de­trac­tors have iden­ti­fied Cosatu’s weak­nesses.

“The big­gest dan­ger we face to­day is that we have ex­posed our acute weak­nesses to our class ad­ver­saries and de­trac­tors in the name of be­ing open and trans­par­ent, but we did so with­out ad­dress­ing our weak­nesses ad­e­quately,” Nt­shal­intshali writes. not in de­ci­sion-mak­ing and im­ple­men­ta­tion of pol­icy.

“It is not ob­vi­ous that con­sen­sus pol­icy po­si­tions that emerge from al­liance de­lib­er­a­tions find ex­pres­sion in ANC pol­icy di­rec­tives, nor is it ob­vi­ous that ANC pol­icy di­rec­tives will find ex­pres­sion in gov­ern­ment pol­icy. It is also not ob­vi­ous that gov­ern­ment pol­icy will be im­ple­mented by the state bu­reau­cracy,” it says.

In Cosatu’s eyes, the bat­tles lead­ing up to the ANC’s na­tional con­fer­ence have led to the SACP be­ing “iden­ti­fied as a strate­gic im­ped­i­ment to be dealt with”.

The doc­u­ment refers to a “po­lit­i­cal stam­pede”, where ev­ery­one is jostling for power. It high­lights how the suc­ces­sion bat­tles “have be­come even more acute, bru­tal, de­struc­tive and sharper” as lead­ers in the ANC plot against each other.

TALK TO US What should Cosatu do now that it has re­alised its mis­take?

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HIT­TING THE TRAIL Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa may have been cam­paign­ing for the ANC to take the Nquthu Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity dur­ing his four-day visit to KwaZulu-Na­tal, but he also tested the waters for his own pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. He punted the ANC hard dur­ing a visit to Nquthu, the of­fi­cial start of the ANC’s cam­paign to win the hung mu­nic­i­pal­ity. He also took time to speak at an SA Na­tional Civic Or­gan­i­sa­tion event in nearby New­cas­tle, in the ANC’s Emalahleni re­gion, where he con­tra­dicted Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s dis­missal of re­cent marches at which Zuma was called on to step down. At the event on Fri­day night, which was called in mem­ory of Chris Hani, Ramaphosa said that it was a ‘dis­grace’ that peo­ple were march­ing against the ANC, which pre­vi­ously united the coun­try and its peo­ple, ‘be­cause they can see that the ANC is not do­ing a good job. Our re­sponse as the ANC should not and can­not be to dis­miss those peo­ple and think that they are crazy. Those peo­ple are not crazy. They are re­act­ing they way they are be­cause it is not right.’ Ramaphosa said the ANC was pay­ing the price for wrong­do­ing be­cause op­po­si­tion par­ties took ad­van­tage of such weak­nesses. ‘The op­po­si­tion par­ties can see that the ANC is wounded. Now they think that they can take the ANC on. If we are not care­ful, in­deed, they can take us on.’ By yesterday morn­ing, the back­lash had be­gun against Ramaphosa, who had a pub­lic and friendly chat with ousted KwaZulu-Na­tal ANC chair­per­son Senzo Mchunu and for­mer provin­cial eco­nomic devel­op­ment MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu at the New­cas­tle meet­ing. The province is yet to de­clare its cho­sen pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, but its youth league and the Dur­ban ANC re­gion openly back Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Other provin­cial lead­ers are also try­ing to line up their re­gions be­hind her, but sev­eral are con­tested, in­clud­ing Emalahleni and Inkosi Bam­batha, un­der which Nquthu falls. KwaZulu-Na­tal ANC spokesper­son Mdu­miseni Ntuli ques­tioned why Ramaphosa ad­dressed the meet­ing with­out con­sult­ing provin­cial lead­ers, say­ing the meet­ing was called by ‘peo­ple who are not con­cerned about the unity of the move­ment’

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