“The ANC cannot impose solutions on Cosatu,” he told reporters in Johannesburg.
“Our intervention cannot fail or succeed, only Cosatu can fail or succeed.”
This weekend the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) was expelled from the Congress of SA Trade Unions. On Monday seven unions affiliated to Cosatu vowed to get the expulsion reversed, starting with not attending central executive committee (CEC) meetings.
An African National Congress task team intervened earlier this year to help Cosatu deal with internal friction.
Mantashe said the ANC made its recommendations, but these were not binding on the union federation.
The team met with all Cosatu affiliates and the national office bearers and made recommendations pertaining to the unity of Cosatu.
However, despite the ruling party’s intervention a special Cosatu CEC meeting was held late into Friday night and Numsa was expelled.
“The conflict in Cosatu must be treated as a conflict inside the federation in which the ANC task team remains available to assist in the resolution thereof and ensure reconciliation and the building of unity and cohesion in the federation,” Mantashe said.
Numsa has been at loggerheads with Cosatu since its general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi was suspended last year for having an affair with a junior employee. She originally claimed he had raped her but did not press charges with the police. It took Cosatu to court to reverse the suspension, where it won its bid and Vavi returned to work.
Numsa held a special national congress in December where it resolved not to support its traditional ally the ANC in the general elections.
Cosatu charged Numsa with contravening its constitution.
Mantashe said the expulsion of Numsa was bad for Cosatu, the ANC, the alliance and society.
However, he said the ANC could not tell Cosatu to reverse the expulsion.
“We are in the alliance as independent parties, we don’t dictate to another alliance partner what to do.”
The ANC would engage with Cosatu and express its view that it was a bad idea.
“It’s up to the federation itself to wake up and smell the coffee and reverse their decision,” Mantashe said.
The parties involved needed to be ready to swallow their pride.