Leaders rally behind alliance
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The importance of a strong tripartite alliance was the rallying call of leaders addressing Cosatu’s May Day rally in Cape Town on Sunday.
Party president Jacob Zuma, Congress of South African Trade Unions president Sidumo Dlamini, and minister for higher education and South African Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande all stressed the need for the body to remain strong as the ANC’s campaign for the local government elections kicks into high gear.
“We reaffirm this alliance and commit ourselves to continue working together to take forward the ANC’s strategic mission as a disciplined force of the left,” Zuma said.
“We renew our call for the unity of the alliance ... the alliance unity needs to deepen further to take forward the national democratic revolution.”
His words followed a report in the Sunday Independent that relations between Nzimande and Cosatu boss Zwelinzima Vavi had soured due to their differing views on how Zuma was delivering on his promises to the left, and whether or not he should be supported for another term as president.
The newspaper said a meeting had been scheduled for May 9 to try and get the two leaders to see eye-to-eye ahead of the ANC’s electoral conference in Mangaung in 2012.
Nevertheless, none of the reported strain showed in the face of a vocal and spirited small crowd of die-hard supporters at the rally at the Athlone Stadium.
The venue, which can house up to 30 000 people, was barely half full, but this did not dampen the mood of supporters.
‘Our rights remain protected’
Dlamini, who preceded Zuma on the podium, accused opposition parties of inciting Cosatu to break away from the alliance.
“We are proud to say without fear or contradiction that workers of South Africa are confident that as long as the African National Congress is in power our rights remain protected,” he said.
He threw Cosatu’s weight behind the government’s new growth path (NGP).
The document has received a lukewarm response from business and unions, particularly its call for a social pact to be reached on the question of wages.
“Cosatu fully supports the NGP as introduced by government,” said Dlamini.
“We are engaged in debates and discussions with government to ensure that these succeed. We are part of it, we will ensure it is successful.”
Nzimande meanwhile argued that at election time the media “clicks into action, supporting anything that is anti-ANC, anti-alliance”.
“They are just mobilising all opposition to the African National Congress,” he said.
Nzimande criticised parties such as the United Democratic Movement, the Independent Democrats and the Congress of the People, which have been held up as possible alternatives to the ANC, but who have failed to garner sufficient support to pose a threat to the ruling party.
Alliance leaders threw their weight behind Cape Town ANC mayoral candidate Tony Ehrenreich and his rallying cry of “down, the DA down”.
Ehrenreich criticised the DA’s record in the city—particularly its handling of the toilet scandal in Makhaza in Khayelitsha, where the city failed to provide residents with enclosed toilets.
He said this was among the worst things the DA had done, and had been an attack on “our people’s dignity”.
The rally ended with the introduction of former members of the UDM, the DA and the ID who had defected to its ranks, to cheers and applause from the crowd.
They included Dumisane Ximbi, erstwhile national deputy organiser for the UDM, and a member of the mayoral committee for health in the City of Cape Town. The defectors also included the national chairperson of the UDM youth movement Ace Qubelo.