Ticked-off unions still back ANC

The nine Cosatu affiliates are in favour of suspended general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi's reinstatement. (Oupa Nkosi)

The nine Cosatu affiliates are in favour of suspended general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi's reinstatement. (Oupa Nkosi)

When it comes to election time, even those Cosatu affiliates that are at loggerheads with union federation bosses perceived to be too close to the ANC still vote with their hearts.

At least five of the nine affiliate unions that are upset that Cosatu is being "increasingly marginalised" by its alliance partners, especially by the ANC, will still urge their members to vote and campaign for the ruling party's re-election.

They will not follow the example of Cosatu's largest affiliate, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), which resolved at its special congress in December that it will not campaign for the ANC or support the party financially, as was traditionally the case.

The nine affiliates are also in favour of suspended Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi's reinstatement. Vavi was suspended last year after admitting to having an affair with a junior Cosatu employee. More charges against Vavi have since been added by Cosatu's national office bearers.

The Food and Allied Workers' Union (Fawu), the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa), the Communication Workers' Union, the South African Commercial and Catering Workers' Union (Saccawu) and the South African Football Players' Union (Safpu) will endorse the ANC.

'Only valuable structure'
"The ANC is the only valuable structure for workers to vote," said Fawu general secretary Katishi Masemola.

Saccawu president Louise Thipe said her union will be out in full force, convincing voters to choose the ANC. "As and when Cosatu deploys us, we will carry that deployment like we always do," Thipe said.

Saccawu would prefer Cosatu affiliates unhappy with the ANC-led alliance to discuss it within the group.

Denosa agrees. "In order for the interests of workers to be achieved, there should be an implementer to spearhead that," said Denosa spokesperson Sibongiseni Delihlazo. "The ANC is the one that can help workers advance on their rights and economically."

Safpu general secretary Thula­ganyo Gaoshubelwe said his union has still not "revisited" its congress resolution to support ANC. "We are a member of Cosatu and we are bound by decisions of the federation," he said in reference to Cosatu's decision to support the ANC.

ANC undermined Cosatu
This week the disgruntled affiliates said that the ANC had undermined Cosatu. "The fact that the government has been able to implement e-tolling and youth subsidies and to backslide on labour broking and on a progressive economic policy indicates how Cosatu's paralysis and disarray is being wilfully exploited," the unions said.

Despite staying in Cosatu and backing the ANC in the elections, the affiliates say they are frustrated with Cosatu's failure to convene a special congress to discuss, among other things, Vavi's suspension and the "political regeneration" of the organisation.

The nine affiliates plan to go to court to force Cosatu to hold a special congress should the leadership of president Sdumo Dlamini fail to meet an end of March deadline.

Mmanaledi Mataboge

Mmanaledi Mataboge

Mmanaledi Mataboge is the Mail & Guardian's political editor. Raised in a rural village, she later studied journalism in a township where she fell in love with the medium of radio. This former radio presenter and producer previously worked as a senior politics reporter for the Mail & Guardian, and writes on politics, government, and anything that gives the disadvantaged, poor, and the oppressed a voice. Read more from Mmanaledi Mataboge

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