/ 18 February 2011

Cosatu meeting to focus on alliance summit

Cosatu Meeting To Focus On Alliance Summit

A summit with its alliance partners — the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) — tops the agenda for discussion when the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) leadership meets next week.

Cosatu’s central executive committee meets for the first time this year early next week, the federation said in a statement on Friday.

The alliance summit, which was postponed earlier this year, will take place on February 24 and 25.

Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said the government’s new growth path and the functioning of the alliance itself would feature in discussions in preparation for the summit.

Boiling point
Last year, relations between Cosatu and the ANC reached boiling point — the ANC accused its long-time ally of taking an “oppositionist stance” towards it after the federation hosted a civil society briefing and excluded the ANC.

This followed a temporary ceasefire between them after the ANC’s national general council in September, following months of tension over the country’s economic trajectory and the ANC’s perceived soft stance against corruption.

The fall-out prompted the ANC to mull disciplining Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, but the idea was eventually canned.

Vavi remained vocal and critical over what he termed the “predatory elite” and “political hyenas” in the ranks of the ruling party.

It was not smooth sailing between the SACP and Cosatu either, after Cosatu called on the party to recall its general secretary, Blade Nzimande, from his Cabinet post to serve the party full time as general secretary.

Nzimande was sworn in as higher education minister in President Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet in 2009 and continues to hold his job as general secretary of the SACP.

Contentious tolling system
Gauteng’s contentious tolling system, while not on Cosatu’s agenda for its leadership meeting, was likely to feature, Craven said.

The federation’s Gauteng chapter on Friday said it would fight the implementation of the system “tooth and nail”.

The province is set to submit a Section 77, or strike, notice to the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) later this month.

Craven said while the tolling system was a provincial matter, Cosatu was likely to support the action on a national level.

Cosatu would also assess Zuma’s State of the Nation address and its expectations from Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s upcoming budget speech.

The local government elections would also feature in discussions, as would amendments to labour law.

A media briefing would be held on Wednesday next week after the three-day gathering concluded. — Sapa