Alliance unity tears further apart
Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini says the federation will fight bitterly despite knowing there will be casualties
Partners in the ANC-led alliance — union federation Cosatu and the South African Communist Party (SACP) — are preparing for an all-out battle ahead of the ANC’s elective conference in December.
The first fight will take place at a critical political council between Cosatu, the ANC and the SACP on Sunday. That will be the first time the allies meet since Cosatu and the SACP called publicly for President Jacob Zuma to step down.
Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini said on Thursday that the federation was willing to fight bitterly, even knowing that there would be casualties.
Dlamini is seen as a close ally of Zuma, but declared to the Cosatu central committee on Thursday that he would abide by Cosatu’s decision to call on Zuma to resign and would campaign for the election of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to succeed him.
Cosatu declared that it was ready for the fight to see Ramaphosa emerge at the close of its mid-term policy meeting on Thursday.
The SACP’s central committee is to meet at the weekend. Though known for its support for Ramaphosa, it would not back him publicly, insiders said on Thursday.
Leaders of the two organisations have been attacked by groupings claiming to support Zuma and their families have been threatened.
Since Cosatu endorsed Ramaphosa for the top job in the ANC ahead of the official opening of the ANC nomination process, the two organisations have faced strident criticism from opposing factions in the party.
Zuma himself is reported to have told the SACP and Cosatu to back off from ANC affairs.
Differences between the party and Zuma supporters have escalated to menacing conduct.
The SACP’s deputy general secretary, Solly Mapaila, was targeted this Tuesday by people claiming to be uMkhonto weSizwe militants protesting outside his home.
Dlamini described his ordeal, which he called a death threat, during his closing address at Cosatu’s central committee meeting on Thursday.
A headless, disembowelled cat was found outside his Kwa-Zulu-Natal home weeks ago, leading Dlamini to the conclusion that his life was in danger because of Cosatu’s opposition to Zuma’s rule.
"This is a battle and like any other battle there are bound to be casualties. You cannot say what is the solution to avoid it, you must just get into battle and be prepared to die or live ... if you are not going to compromise your demand you stay and fight," said Dlamini.
SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande, responding to attacks on Mapaila, said on Wednesday that the tripartite alliance had entered uncharted political terrain that would lead to destruction.
Cosatu second deputy president Zingiswa Losi said the federation had no choice but to speak out against inconsistencies in the ANC, regardless of the threats.
She said that Cosatu could not afford to remove itself from the debate, despite warnings in its own central-committee declaration made in 2011 that focusing on the succession debate could deflect Cosatu from focusing on its core mandates of fighting poverty, unemployment and inequality.
Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said that the situation arising form Zuma’s alleged involvement in state capture warranted Cosatu’s engagement. He said that the ANC would "go down the drain" if this was not stopped.
With Natasha Marrian