Newly-elected president of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), Zingiswa Losi, addressed the federation at the end of their 13th national congress, vowing to intensify efforts to protect workers, especially women.
“It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the historic and far-reaching step that Cosatu has taken at this congress,” Losi said.
“Cosatu is communicating a clear message for the world and the country to know that women within the ranks of this radical trade union movement are ready to take the responsibility … for the struggle for emancipation of all women in our society,” she continued.
It was reported on Tuesday that workers and delegates at the Cosatu national congress unanimously elected Losi as its first female president.
Losi, who has been fighting for women to swell the ranks of Cosatu’s leadership, was recently quoted on its website as saying: “I would love to see women taking their rightful place in the federation, not for the purposes of achieving gender equity, but for the transformation of the broader society.
“This will go a long way towards eradicating the patriarchal tendencies that still exist in our society.”
Losi was elected unopposed at the congress. All the top five positions were uncontested.
The new Cosatu president previously served as second deputy president of Cosatu and is a member of the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC).
Despite her role in the ruling party, Losi said her mandate lay with workers and she would not be conflicted.
Outgoing Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini came in for criticism for his strong allegiance to former president Jacob Zuma, with many saying he put his political interests ahead of the plight of workers.
Additional reporting by Eric Naki and ANA