Demands: Cosatu leaders Bheki Ntshalintshali, left; Sdumo Dlamini, centre; and Zingiswa Losi at Cosatu House. The federation says it will not hand out free passes and it expects much of ANC leaders. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO
Demands: Cosatu leaders Bheki Ntshalintshali, left; Sdumo Dlamini, centre; and Zingiswa Losi at Cosatu House. The federation says it will not hand out free passes and it expects much of ANC leaders. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO

As the ANC elective conference edges closer and factions of the divided party push for their candidates and policy imperatives, its alliance partners have been sharpening their swords too.

Delegates representing the labour federation Cosatu and the South African Communist Party (SACP) will be heading to Nasrec in Johannesburg on Saturday with set goals and ultimatums as its tripartite alliance with the ANC is all but defunct.

Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali told Business Day this week that the lessons learnt during the last term of President Jacob Zuma’s presidency of the party and the country had awakened the alliance from a "lull".

The federation would therefore no longer hand out free passes, with high expectations for ANC leaders.

The revival or reconfiguration of the alliance topped its priorities because if that was achieved, Cosatu and the SACP’s inputs on policy direction and political strategies would get a hearing from the party, Ntshalintshali said.

It had not been easy to have a "constructive official engagement with the ANC on the issues, although from many quarters of the ANC, there are expressions of interest in taking these discussions further", said the SACP at its central executive committee meeting held in the first week of December.

Other issues the party referred to included the fact that the alliance had failed to realise many of its resolutions and postponed its alliance summit often, with relations reaching their lowest point yet when the SACP and Cosatu denounced Zuma and called for his resignation.

Ntshalintshali said that the federation had lost focus and had failed to keep Zuma in check after it led a campaign for his ascension to the presidency of the ANC. It would not repeat that mistake.

Should Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, whose quest to become the ANC’s 14th president has been supported by the two alliance partners, succeed, he and his national executive committee would be watched like a hawk, Ntshalintshali said.

If he deals with corruption within the ANC, revives and champions the reconfiguration of the alliance, consults the alliance and heeds its counsel, Ramaphosa would be living up to their expectations.

Should Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma win, the same would apply to her.

The SACP said some of the best possible outcomes for the party were to focus on "the struggle against corporate capture of the state, other forms of corruption, general leadership arrogance and the removal of serially incompetent ministers".

In a recent meeting with Ramaphosa, Cosatu outlined its six principles, which include believing in the alliance, the unity of the ANC and that the international character of the ANC should be anti-imperialist.

For Cosatu, looking beyond the ANC’s elective conference was just as important as lobbying for the passing of policies on the creation of decent work and sustainable livelihoods, education, the implementation of National Health Insurance and the reduction of crime, as contained in its delegates’ guide to the 54th national conference.

The federation and trade unions in the country were desperate for the ANC to come up with drastic plans to reduce the high unemployment rate in the country while protecting jobs, Ntshalintshali said.

Whether the ANC would be able to deliver on the long-standing campaigns being promoted by the SACP and Cosatu would depend on the priorities of the new leadership.

There were already indications that the SACP and some Cosatu unions were considering a future without the ANC if nothing changed after the conference, Ntshalintshali said.

mahlakoanat@businesslive.co.za

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