Alliance partner warns Cyril Ramaphosa: Cosatu’s backing is no blank cheque
‘We expect them to work hard to rid the organisation of factionalism and corruption that has threatened to … derail our revolution’
Trade union federation Cosatu has warned the new leadership of the ANC that Cosatu’s support is “not a blank cheque”, after Cyril Ramaphosa became ANC president on Monday evening.
Cosatu was the first of the alliance partners to formally endorse Ramaphosa for the position at the end of 2016.
Ramaphosa was the founding secretary-general of the National union of Mineworkers (NUM), a Cosatu member.
“Cosatu congratulates comrade Cyril Ramaphosa for being elected as the new president of the African National Congress by the 54th national conference. Cosatu has been unwavering in its support for comrade Ramaphosa even when there were naked attempts to stop him from ascending to the presidency,” Cosatu spokesman Sizwe Pamla said on Monday evening.
He said Cosatu “wants to warn the new leadership of the ANC, though, that our support for the ANC is not a blank cheque and we expect them to deal with the issues that are killing the economy like state capture and corruption.”
Pamla said Cosatu looked forward to engaging with the newly elected leadership and would use a central executive committee meeting set for February to reflect on the outcomes of the national conference, which will conclude on Wednesday at Nasrec in Johannesburg.
“This new leadership collective has a mammoth task of healing the deep divisions that have widened over the past 10 years.
“We expect them to work hard to rid the organisation of factionalism and corruption that has threatened to collapse this more than a century-old organisation and ultimately derail our revolution.
“We also expect the new leadership collective to revive our revolutionary alliance and the mass democratic movement at large,” Pamla said.
Relations in the alliance reached an all time low by the end of Jacob Zuma’s term as president of the party, after both Cosatu and the SACP openly called on Zuma to step down as president of the country. Zuma was also banned from speaking at Cosatu events.
Zuma is still president of the country, and it is yet to be seen whether Ramaphosa will come under pressure to recall Zuma as president of SA.
Trade unions Samwu and Solidarity‚ and union federation Fedusa also welcomed Ramaphosa and the new leadership.
The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu), a Cosatu member, believes it is a “new era” for the ANC, saying: “Gone are the times when trade unions and workers would find it difficult to campaign for the ANC given challenges of the organisation‚ in particular leadership and scandals which have taken away the hope and confidence that South Africans had in the party. We believe that this victory would make it easy for us to sell the ANC to our people.”
Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini urged the ANC to be firm on the demand for radical economic transformation.
Dlamini — considered a staunch Zuma supporter — said Cosatu would closely monitor that the party makes good on its 2012 resolution for economic transformation.
“What is critical for Cosatu is the policies that will be decided here. We look forward that you should be firm on radical economic transformation. It is not a new resolution. We will monitor it‚” said Dlamini.
He also called for the roll-out of the National Health Insurance (NHI), aimed at making healthcare accessible to poor South Africans.
SACP leader Blade Nzimande reiterated the necessity of the ANC‚ arguing that it was the only organisation that could properly serve black people.
“SA needs the ANC. Firstly‚ the ANC is the only organisation that is capable of realising the dreams and aspirations of black people.”
KwaZulu-Natal buries the hatchet
The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, meanwhile, took a conciliatory stance. Sihle Zikalala‚ the ANC’s leader in the province, says he is not bitter after his preferred candidate for the party presidency‚ Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma‚ was defeated.
Speaking outside the ANC conference venue at Nasrec shortly after it was announced that Ramaphosa had won the top job‚ Zikalala said he had accepted defeat.
He was among a group of provincial leaders who campaigned for Dlamini-Zuma.
“I’m not sure whether the word ‘unfortunately’ is relevant‚ because ‘unfortunately’ may sound as if we think we have lost and we are bitter‚” he said.
“When we started the nomination process‚ we knew we were entering the democratic process. Those who emerge will emerge out of the democratic will of the members.
“For me‚ I can say the members of the ANC have spoken and have rejected slates and have embraced all.”
Zikalala‚ also a strong ally of Zuma‚ said his home province would work with the newly elected ANC leadership despite not having nominated Ramaphosa.
“We congratulate those who have been elected and we will support them [and] even congratulate comrade Cyril‚ whom we didn’t nominate‚ and we pledge our loyalty and support to him as a leader of the ANC‚” he said.
“We are not here for us as individuals. We are here for the organisation and its interests. We are very happy with the newly elected leadership. For us in KwaZulu-Natal it is not a sad day‚ but it is a good lesson that division … undermines your strength.”