The 2015 Cosatu special congress came to a standstill as insults were hurled and comrades battled each other, debating her legitimacy as a member and second deputy president of the federation. Zingiswa Losi cut a lonely figure at the back of the hall as she was humiliated. But on Thursday, as Cosatu’s newly elected leader, she was carried on the shoulders of Cosatu members as ululation and cheers rang from every corner in the same hall at Gallagher Estates in Midrand. Thousands of members of the country’s biggest trade union federation celebrated the rise of the first woman in Africa to lead a labour federation. Looking back to her unhappy day in 2015, Losi said she was persecuted by her former union, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), which was expelled from Cosatu in 2014, and its allies in the federation for not toeing the line in her disagreements with then Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi on organisational issues. Losi was forced to quit her job at Ford’s...

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