Cosatu: The time has come for President Jacob Zuma to step down

Labour federation, Cosatu has added its voice to growing calls for President Jacob Zuma to step down saying it no longer believes in his leadership abilities as head of state.

“Cosatu no longer believes that the president is the right person to unite and lead the movement, the [tripartite] alliance and the country,” Cosatu general secretary, Bheki Ntshalintshali told journalists in Johannesburg on Tuesday. Already, the ANC’s other alliance partner, the South African Communist Party (SACP) said at the weekend that Zuma must go. The ANC’s integrity committee on Monday, penned a letter to ANC secretary general, Gwede Mantashe recommending the president vacate office as head of state, for bringing the organisation into disrepute. 

Both Cosatu and the SACP were instrumental in ensuring that Zuma was elected as ANC president in 2007 and the president of the country in 2009. The relationship, has since soured with Cosatu publicly expressing support for deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa.

Said Ntshalintshali, “We think that after all his undeniable contributions to both the movement and the government, the time has arrived for him to step down and allow the country to be led forward by a new collective at a government level.”

Cosatu said it intends on communicating its decision to the ANC.


Justifying its reasons for calling on Zuma to step aside, Cosatu said the president has abandoned democratic consultation and transparency.

“This [is] combined with the alleged undue influence that is apparently exerted by the Gupta family in the office of the president like the constitutional court judgement and this apology on Nkandla,” Ntshalintshali continued.

Cosatu intends on asking Zuma to explain his recent cabinet reshuffle and why the federation was not consulted for the first time since he took office in 2009.

The federation accused Zuma of failing to deal with ‘incompetent’ ministers in his cabinet, saying it proved that the reshuffle was not based on merit but on political loyalty.

However, Cosatu did not disagree with Zuma’s decision to fire Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas. Instead, it countered that Gordhan, like all other finance ministers before him, was “captured and transformed by the [Treasury] instead of them transforming the institution.”

“There is no finance minister who has been a friend of the workers including Pravin Gordhan, so going forward we will support the new minister where necessary and fight with him where necessary.”

Zuma’s decision to reshuffle has been met with resistance from civil society, opposition parties and within the ANC. These groups are planning which is expected to culminate in a national day of action on Friday.

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Govan Whittles

Govan Whittles is a general news and political multimedia journalist at the Mail & Guardian. Born in King William's Town in the Eastern Cape, he cut his teeth as a radio journalist at Primedia Broadcasting. He produced two documentaries and one short film for the Walter Sisulu University, and enjoys writing about grassroots issues, national politics, identity, heritage and hip-hop culture.

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