The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has acknowledged that there is a parting of ways within the broad alliance that brought President Jacob Zuma to power.
This week its president, Sdumo Dlamini, pointed a finger at a small grouping in the African National Congress (ANC) who, he said, are resisting policy change, likening them to supporters of former president Thabo Mbeki.
This follows the climb-down of the left at the tripartite alliance summit in Ekurhuleni two weeks ago, at which Cosatu and the South African Communist Party (SACP) abandoned their demand for the removal of Planning Minister Trevor Manuel as head of the National Planning Commission.
Dlamini said the faction included elements with business interests and with a stake in the ANC leadership battle that is expected to come to a head at the party’s 2012 national congress. Some were unhappy with Cosatu’s tough stance on corruption.
He said Cosatu was worried about the emergence of a new tendency in the ruling party, similar to the faction that had supported Mbeki and had left the ANC to join the Congress of the People (Cope).
”We know there are comrades who never believed in the cause we are all championing now,” Dlamini said. ”They found themselves in the same wagon as us after they felt they’d been let down by the Mbeki regime.
”One links this to those who run away from the ANC, crying that it is being hijacked by the left. They must then find a space to cry. The ANC is open — everybody can raise an issue.”
Although he did not mention names, ANC leaders who have voiced concern about a perceived left-wing take-over of the ANC include national executive committee member Billy Masetlha, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane and ANC Youth League president Julius Malema.
ANC treasurer general Mathews Phosa has also insisted that the ANC will not change its economic policies, despite the left’s demands for radical change.
At the alliance summit two weeks ago, Mokonyane and Malema reportedly accused ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe of trying to change the ANC’s identity and allow the alliance to run the show.
Dlamini said the summit decision that the alliance should be a strategic political centre was not new. ”We are on record as saying we want the government to deal with corruption. We know this has created some enemies, even among our friends.”
Dlamini said Cosatu will unveil its political strategy next week to deal with the new tendencies in the ANC. Cosatu will not allow anyone in the ANC to divert it from its programme to push the government to improve the lives of the poor, he said.
”We had a discussion at the central committee this week on our approach to the new tendencies by some ANC leaders. Our view is that we must not be deterred from our own objectives.”
He said Cosatu had not changed its position on nationalisation, but did not support the ANC Youth League’s calls for the nationalisation of South Africa’s mines.
”We feel that the call [by the ANCYL] lacks substance. Cosatu’s worry is that once you allow this debate to go on in this form, you run the risk of neutralising and missing its essence.
”The essence is: How do we advance our strategy for changing the structural deficiencies of our economy created by apartheid?” said Dlamini.