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By Stephen Tau


‘The ANC we are in alliance with, is not the ANC we are working with’ – Mapaila

This comes as an indication that the governing party has lost its pull, according to political analyst Sanusha Naidu.

The drama which unfolded at the 14th elective conference of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), where the chairperson of the African National Congress (ANC) Gwede Mantashe was barred from speaking, is an indication that the governing party has lost its reputation pull, according to political analyst Sanusha Naidu.

There was hope among some that Mantashe would be allowed to address the congress held in Midrand on Tuesday morning, after he was booed off the stage on Monday morning but that was not the case.

ALSO READ: ‘Hamba Gwede!’ – Mantashe booed off Cosatu congress stage

Speaking to The Citizen, Naidu said this kind of reaction from Cosatu delegates was not surprising at all.

“I think the frustration that has been there for a long time impacts on the reputation of the ANC because one of its key tripartite alliance partners actually doesn’t see the ANC as a credible legitimate viable partner anymore and to essentially jeer and boo off the stage Mantashe, tells you that the relationship has really taken a downward spiral.

“Part of the challenge is that the ANC’s electoral base relies on workers in terms of how the labour federation lobbies and endorses the party at elections and so the challenge now is what happens to the ANC’s electoral footprint among workers… I mean watching the images on screen and how Mantashe reacted to the jeering actually tells me that the ANC has no kind of PR on this, it doesn’t have a credible communications strategy to deal with this and it finds itself in a very precarious situation,” said Naidu.

She said there trust deficit within the alliance was also exacerbating the issue, considering how issues of wage negotiations get protracted in several instances, stressing that some of these and many other issues were brought to the attention of the ANC at its recent Policy Conference.

“Therefore, the ANC should not act surprised at this kind of reception and I think the ANC leadership is in a critical leadership crisis around where they should be but they just don’t know how to deal with it,” Naidu added.

Another political analyst Prof Dirk Kotze said the reaction by delegates to Mantashe should definitely be worrisome to the ANC.

“It’s a message that members of Cosatu are very much irritated, frustrated and upset with the ANC and I think its very much about issues like the state of the economy, questions around negotiations with public service unions as well as the role that unions play within the alliance, including the feeling that they are no longer as influential as they’ve been in the past.

“The fact that the ANC is also losing so much in support is also warning signs for Cosatu because if the ANC is not anymore the majority party, that will have implications for Cosatu also within the alliance, that they won’t be in the same position of influence as in the past,” he said.

Barely months ago, ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa was also booed at the May Day rally held in Rustenburg, North West.

ALSO READ: Ramaphosa’s address at Cosatu’s May Day rally disrupted by angry workers

Kotze said more similar reactions to ANC leaders can still be expected going forward.

He said that although Cosatu’s membership stands at around 1 million, which is far from the approximate ten, 11 million the ANC would normally receive, it still remains important especially when the ANC’s majority continues to become marginal.

Another analyst Theo Venter is off the view that for an old trade unionist it must have been a bad experience, saying the situation is at best very ambivalent, because on the one side Cosatu is saying the ANC is failing them but on the other side they are saying opposition parties will destroy the advantages workers has gained under the ANC.

“Cosatu also helped to destroy the Zuma’s presidency and supported Ramaphosa at Nasrec 2017 and afterwards and I see the action of Cosatu as a wake-up call to the ANC rather than a serious break in relations.

“Cosatu and the the South African Communist Party (SACP) see themselves as the political consciousness of the tripartite alliance and they (Cosatu) are also telling the ANC that workers are suffering under load shedding, poor economic performance and rising cost of living,” Venter said.

Meanwhile, delivering the SACP’s message of support, general secretary Solly Mapaila said the conference must really redefine and change the balance of forces in favour of workers.

“The working class has to contest the ANC. Today the working class just enter the ANC to raise issues but criminals contest the ANC and their views are heard in policy frameworks.

“This cannot be allowed anymore and the working class must stand up and we must not be sucked into ANC’s factions,” Mapaila said to a resounding applause from delegates.

Mapaila has on numerous occassions taken a swipe at the ANC leadership and during the ANC’s Policy Conference this year, Mapaila went as far as saying the country was on ‘auto-pilot’, a sentiment former President Thabo Mbeki said should not be taken lightly.

ALSO READ: Mbeki warns ANC not to dismiss sentiments that SA is on auto-pilot