Does Motlanthe still think the tripartite alliance is dead?

Has Cosatu convinced former president Kgalema Motlanthe that the tripartite alliance is not dead?

That remains unknown but the trade union federation said it had a “cordial and constructive meeting” with Motlanthe – a former trade union leader – after he said in an interview that Cosatu and the SACP had lost their way. 

In a wide-ranging interview with Business Day, Motlanthe was scathing in his criticism of Cosatu which expelled its general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, and metal workers union Numsa this year. 

“You have a situation when the office bearers actively go and divide the unions. I can’t think of anyone who claims to be a trade unionist who can, with clear conscience, expel 350 000 workers. It is unheard of,” he said in the interview. 

Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said in a press statement that Cosatu’s national office bearers met with Motlanthe following his controversial remarks. 


“It was a cordial and constructive meeting, where all the parties agreed to respect the decisions taken by the constitutional structures of the respective alliance formations and to always raise any matters openly with those involved,” Pamla said in the statement. 

Initially, Pamla issued a statement saying Cosatu found Motlanthe’s comments regrettable, adding that he has “ignored all the facts and opted for an easy option by sounding the death knell for the alliance”.

The former general secretary of NUM was firm in his view that Cosatu was no longer a strong independent organisation. 

“”My reading is that there is no alliance, there is one organisation existing inside the integuments of erstwhile independent organisations, but today to talk about Cosatu as an independent organisation from the ANC or the SACP I think is a delusion,” Motlanthe was quoted as saying. 

Now Cosatu says it respects Motlanthe and would continue to value his opinions. 

In the wide-ranging interview Motlanthe also dished out criticism for the ANC. 

“The point I am making is that the policies are in place, the Constitution is in place, but if those in power can pick and choose when to adhere, when not to adhere then we have a very difficult situation,” he said. 

The ANC remained curt in their response. 

“The African National Congress wants to affirm comrade Kgalema Motlanthe as a leader and a voice reason who has always been on the forefront of raising pertinent and thought-provoking questions within the structures of the ANC,” spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said in a statement. 

However, the ANC Youth League in KwaZulu-Natal – who are known for their razor sharp tongues – lashed out against Motlanthe. 

ANCYL provincial secretary Thanduxolo Sabelo said “Motlanthe was not the alpha and the omega of the ANC”.

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