The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) has hit back at the African National Congress (ANC) for squarely laying the blame on the union federation for the jeering and heckling directed at President Jacob Zuma during its main Workers’ Day rally in Bloemfontein on Monday.
On Wednesday, the labour federation’s spokesperson, Sizwe Pamla, said the disruptions at the event reflected the anger of workers with the “deteriorating relations” between the governing party and its tripartite alliance partners, Cosatu and the SA Communist Party (SACP), particularly factions within the movement.
Pamla said workers were tired with the ANC and its government’s failure to deal honestly and decisively with issues such as e-tolls, labour brokers, unemployment and retrenchments.
“It also reflects the fact that workers have reached a dead end and are angry with the factionalised state of the ANC and the dearth of leadership in the movement,” he said.
Cosatu noted with concern and condemned “some crowds that were rented with the purpose to disrupt the national event in Bloemfontein”, he said, adding that they would raise the issue at a special central executive committee meeting of the alliance.
“It is regrettable that we have reached a stage where organisational mass power is not used for purposes of asserting a people-driven and a people-centred development but is used to fight internal factional battles to get people elected to positions of power, which allows for access to resources,” Pamla stated.
On Monday, ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said the developments at the May Day rally were regrettable and were as a result of premature pronouncements made by Cosatu and the SACP on the party’s succession debate.
Cosatu in April endorsed Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa as its preferred candidate to take over as the ANC’s next leader when Zuma steps down as party president in December.
Pamla rubbished the ANC’s statements, saying the party’s response was “unfortunate and unhelpful”, and its reasoning was flawed.
He said the double standards and factionalism applied by the ANC on its leadership race were testing the patience of the workers and eroding the discipline and the comradeship that had united the alliance for decades.
“We totally reject and denounce this flawed reasoning. Unfortunately, these reproachful comments fail to deal with the eternal contradictions that exist in a political alliance like ours. Cosatu finds it disappointing that instead of doing some introspection, some in the ANC have resorted to scapegoating, conventional wisdom and slogans to explain away these multifaceted and momentous political challenges.
“It goes without saying that the ANC has dismally failed to provide decisive leadership on the issue of succession inside the organisation. While it is easy and almost fashionable for the ANC to chastise and blame Cosatu for publicly pronouncing its support for Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to take over from President Jacob Zuma, it is noticeable that the same ANC lacks the appetite to reprimand its own structures that are openly campaigning in support of Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.”