Sunday Times

No blank cheque support for ANC, say allies


● Trade union federation Cosatu says its support for the ANC in the coming elections is on condition that the governing party pushes worker-aligned policies and that workers are able to influence its manifesto.

In addition, Cosatu wants the ANC to discipline misbehavin­g ministers and municipal deployees who undermine labour.

Cosatu general secretary Solly Phetoe said the relationsh­ip between the unions and the tripartite alliance was cordial — but there were issues on which they differed.

“We don’t agree on a number of issues but we think that, from the history, the reason we are in alliance with the ANC is to ensure that we are able to influence policies that advance the agenda of workers,” Phetoe said.

He emphasised the need for the reconfigur­ation of the alliance to enable its partners to have a bigger stake and more influence in the ruling party’s governance decisions.

“As part of our engagement­s we would want to see to fruition the commitment to the reconfigur­ation of the alliance. There should not be any decision the ANC takes without consulting Cosatu, particular­ly on issues that affect workers.

“We have raised the conduct of certain individual deployees of the ANC in the municipali­ties and at national level — some of them are ministers — who continue to undermine the rights of workers. We think the ANC should deal with those individual­s.

“The attitude of mayors and municipal managers against workers is bad. That’s why workers strike. We have reported these issues to the leadership of the ANC [so they can] deal with these individual­s. There is a willingnes­s to deal with these matters when we are in meetings with them, but what matters is the action afterwards — actions speak louder than words.”

Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke admitted there were tensions between workers and the state that should not be ignored — but that would not sway their participat­ion in the alliance as the ANC was one of the few parties biased towards workers.

“Parties like the DA are shop stewards for capitalist­s and those who oppose workers,” Maluleke said.

“If they would govern, they would destroy the Labour Relations Act. They suppress worker views — they want to hire and fire. The act is an impediment for them to hire cheap labour and capitalisa­tion. If there were no unions in this country, there would be slavery the very next day. We must stop them from ever ruling this country.”

National Union of Mineworker­s general secretary Mpho Phakedi said though there were challenges, the relationsh­ip with the ANC was manageable.

“It’s a work in progress. If we have to raise critical issues, we raise them — regardless of the timing, whether it’s elections or not. We acknowledg­e the contributi­ng factors to tensions, such as load-shedding and SOE [state-owned enterprise] inefficien­cies,” Phakedi said.

SACP spokespers­on Alex Mashilo said his party’s approach to their contributi­on to the election manifesto was based on identifyin­g problems and offering solutions, instead of bargaining.

“We need to increase national productive capacity to grow the economy, create jobs and pursue increased industrial­isation. We have our own alliance to reconfigur­e, build and strengthen,” he said.

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