Cosatu acting general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali. Picture: THE TIMES
Cosatu acting general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali. Picture: THE TIMES

Union federation Cosatu is looking to alter the balance of power in its alliance with the ANC and wants the party to change its constitution to limit the president’s power to reshuffle its Cabinet.

"The ANC constitution must be amended to tell the president of the ANC what he can do," Bheki Ntshalintshali, Cosatu’s general secretary said in an interview at Bloomberg’s Johannesburg office on Tuesday. "The ANC constitution should say even that if the law allows it, its president in government will not make decisions alone."

Cosatu and the South African Communist Party (SACP) have accused President Jacob Zuma of alienating the ANC’s allies by spurning consultation and making Cabinet changes that knocked the rand and bonds and prompted credit rating downgrades.

A split in the alliance could harm the ANC’s chances in elections in 2019.

While the SACP has said it’s considering contesting elections separately, Cosatu is looking to change the structure of the alliance. The president has the power to change ministers, but the ruling party should ensure it’s done in consultation with the party’s other leaders and its allies, according to Ntshalintshali.

"We must re-configure the alliance," he said. "The alliance must be the political centre, in other words we must be equal partners."

Cosatu and the SACP are backing ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa in the race to succeed Zuma as leader of the ANC next month. Zuma wants former African Union commission chairperson, and his ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to take the position.

The dropping of Blade Nzimande, the SACP secretary-general, as higher education minister last month brought the alliance to the brink of "disintegration", the SACP said.

Cosatu is concerned about the risk of the ANC losing more support and being forced into coalitions, Cosatu’s second deputy president Zingiswa Losi said in the same interview. "Coalition governments sometimes don’t bring stability, that is why we continue to urge the ANC to rise above things that are not taking the country forward," she said. "We hope members of the ANC will help us in picking leaders of integrity."


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