Natasha Marrian Political editor: Business Day

Cosatu will support the ANC in the 2019 national election but it may also decide to throw its weight behind the SA Communist Party (SACP) as it works to build a popular front to potentially contest future elections.

This is according to proposed resolutions as well as the labour federation’s political report to be discussed at Cosatu’s national congress next week.

Business Day has seen the political report likely to be presented at the congress.

The proposed resolution on the SACP is put forward by three of Cosatu’s largest unions — the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

Adopting the proposal could mean a long-term shake-up of SA politics. It is also key for the governing party, which cannot afford another divisive split given the decline in its electoral support in national and local elections in the past decade.

The SACP resolved last year to look into ways to build a popular front to contest future elections. It said it would look into whether it would contest elections on its own from within or outside the alliance.

The party has contested elections in the Metsimaholo Municipality but is clashing with the ANC in that council.

A resolution proposed by Sadtu and Nehawu, according to the document, indicates that while the ANC’s support is on a steady decline, Cosatu has a long-standing decision to throw its resources behind the ANC’s election campaign.

The two unions recommend that Cosatu should continue to support the party. But they, along with the NUM, are also pushing for Cosatu to throw its weight behind the SACP to ensure that it acts on its decision to contest elections independently of the ANC in future.

Insiders have told Business Day that the SACP has been "sitting on the fence" over its position on state power and needs to come out more decisively in order for Cosatu to throw its support behind the party.

Popular movement

The SACP has called for the reconfiguration of the alliance with the ANC. But should this fail to happen, it has indicated that it will contest elections.

"Cosatu must work with the SACP in building a popular movement through a joint political programme to educate and mobilise the working class … the SACP should take a decisive, unambiguous step on the question of state power," the Cosatu document reads.

The SACP is set to have a special congress after the Cosatu congress. In its proposed resolutions, Cosatu said if the SACP decides to contest the 2019 polls it too would convene a special conference to discuss whether to support the party.

Cosatu said it will discuss its policy proposals at its congress next week, which will kick off on Monday.