The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) says factionalism within the ANC has sparked trouble for its alliance with the ruling party – so much that it has been left confused as to which ANC it should talk to.
Speaking to The Citizen on Monday, the union federation said although it had little influence over calls for the ANC to hold an early national elective conference, the tripartite alliance, with the ANC as its lead group, lacked strong leadership from the party, and that the party was riddled by factionalism that necessitated new leadership.
“We can’t continue to say we are in an alliance because we don’t know which ANC we are allied to … factionalism automatically means factions are dominating at all levels, from provincially to nationally, and then the question will be: if Cosatu says the ANC is our ally, which faction are we talking about and are we allied to? That has been an issue of late when we try to actually get a sense of what is going on with a particular issue,’’ Cosatu national spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said.
Pamla has criticised the ANC’s highest decision-making body between conferences, the national executive committee (NEC), of being ‘paralysed’ and unable to take decisions to ‘self-correct’. He said frictions within the ANC had at times left Cosatu dealing with multiple ANCs taking different stances on issues.
“You have something like three people who speak on behalf of the ANC, and then you realise you’re in trouble because they are not even repeating each other’s message,’’ he said.
He added: “After long debates, workers have concluded that they can’t be neutral, especially, we have seen, when you take any chance and hope that the ANC will self-correct. The ANC is starting to lose that capacity to self-correct. So the calibre of leadership that will emerge … we are not just talking the top six here, we are talking about the NEC because the ANC has found itself paralysed at this point that it has not necessarily managed to play its role as a high decision-making structure in the ANC.’’
SACP secretary-general Blade Nzimande said at the party’s conclusion of its central executive committee meeting on Sunday that it would request the ANC to hold a non-elective national conference, with ANC provinces accorded an equal number of delegates in order to discuss problems facing the alliance and set out a transition plan for new leadership.
Cosatu said it would consult with the communists and other ANC structures, particularly the ANCYL, which first made the call for the congress to be held, to hear their arguments.
“Chances are maybe after the briefing we will be able to warm up to that idea and the ANC itself, depending on what it will decide. We will also meet with the youth league and other structures to hear how they feel the way forward should be with regards to the post-election period,’’ Pamla said.
On reports over the weekend that the wealthy Gupta family plans to sell their South African business interests before the end of the year, the Cosatu expressed its concern for the employees who work for the politically influential family’s businesses. The federation said it hoped the planned Gupta exit would not lead to job losses, and said if it was not well-managed, it would be a disaster for the economy.
“Anytime you have someone pull out of your economy, what happens is that even the fiscal itself is affected. We have actually lost half a million jobs in the first half of the year. We are hoping when they say they are disinvesting they won’t shut down some of their business because this will be a disaster if all those workers will find themselves jobless.’’