Cosatu will rally for ANC despite signing of e-tolls law

"Cosatu will campaign for the ANC and ensure it gets a two-thirds majority next year," the trade union federation's second deputy president Zingiswa Losi told the Mail & Guardian on Thursday, who is seen to be part of a faction in Cosatu that prefers that the federation take a softer stance in its criticism of Zuma's government and the ANC.

"Campaigning for the ANC is the resolution of Cosatu. We will have to go to another congress to change that resolution."

The faction aligned to Losi and Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini has been blamed for wanting to expel Zwelinzima Vavi as general secretary because of his criticism of Zuma, the ANC and the government. The Dlamini faction has been blamed for Cosatu's failure to implement some of the federation's more radical resolutions, including the push for the scrapping of e-tolls, taken at its 11th congress last September.

Losi rejected suggestions that Cosatu's central executive committee decision to suspend Vavi was meant to pave the way for Zuma to sign the Bill without any noise from Cosatu.

"E-tolling is not Zweli's [Vavi's]  programme, but one of the many resolutions of Cosatu adopted at the national congress," Losi said. "Zweli was just a spokesperson. When he speaks, people assume the programmes belong to him. That's wrong. We are able to articulate Cosatu's resolutions without Vavi."

 "The president [Zuma] signed the Bill as a state president. We don't want to accuse him for doing that. We can't accuse the government [for taking the decision to sign the Bill] because it represents wider society. The government will continue to be criticised by different formations in the country. Cosatu is opposed to things that are not in the interests of workers."

The last time Cosatu organised a major protest against e-tolls was in 2011. There were other, smaller protests by Cosatu in Gauteng over the past few months, but they did not enjoy the support of all ­senior Cosatu leaders.

It is understood that the grouping aligned to Dlamini was worried that further protest action would embarrass Zuma and his administration.

Losi defended the absence of senior Cosatu leaders during the Gauteng protest action.

"When Cosatu Gauteng took to the streets on e-tolls, we were in other meetings," she said. "You may not have seen national office bearers there, but other leaders from our affiliates were there. They were inside their cars. We have always been comfortable with Gauteng's campaign. It was given the blessings by the CEC [central executive committee]."

Losi said Cosatu had been meeting ANC leaders behind closed doors and would continue to do so in a bid to find a lasting solution to the e-toll saga.

"It has to be agreed to by all before you take workers out [on massive strike action]. If we just wake up and decide to take workers out, they will lose out on salaries. We can't do that without exhausting other avenues."

The CEC had decided to form a socioeconomic task team that would look at various campaigns including e-tolls before the signing of the Bill.

"We stand firm in our opposition to e-tolls. It is not correct.

"We want a system that is safe and affordable."

Losi reiterated Cosatu's call to boycott the purchase of e-tags. "We encourage all people not to buy the e-tickets. We should boycott the buying of tickets so that the impact can be felt."

She said that, although Cosatu had not taken a position following Zuma's decision to sign the Bill, she was confident the federation would embark on mass protest action before the implementation of e-tolls.

The ANC caucus in Gauteng, where e-tolls will be implemented first, welcomed the signing of the e-toll Bill into law. Caucus ­member Mbongeni Radebe said the infrastructure already in place had to be made sustainable.

"It must be paid for by users," he said.

On Wednesday the Supreme Court of Appeal reserved judgement on whether the e-tolling of Gauteng's freeways should be reviewed.

Said Wayne Duvenage, the chairperson of the Opposition To Urban Tolling Alliance, on Thursday: "We have an election looming. Let the people decide."

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Matuma Letsoala
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Mmanaledi Mataboge
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