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Ramaphosa hits the right notes as he urges Cosatu to continue to support the ANC

President Cyril Ramaphosa assured trade union federation Cosatu on Monday that the ANC is doing everything in its power to address the unemployment and poverty that has engulfed South Africa, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ramaphosa was speaking at the Cosatu’s central executive committee meeting held in Braamfontein, to discuss whether the tripartite alliance member will be supporting the ANC in the upcoming local government elections or whether it would advise its members to vote for other political parties. 

During this meeting Cosatu was also set to discuss the implementation of decisions taken at its electoral congress in 2018.

“The divisions and internal squabbles interrupt our direction as a movement. The trust our people display  cannot be overlooked. One of the most important issues we need to address as an alliance is our issues between us and among us.There have been stumbling blocks in this regard,” Ramaphosa said. “It’s important we continue working in unity and moving each other forward.”

The president said that defeating the Covid-19 pandemic remains a big task and emergency for the government and this can be done with a level of unity among the alliance partners.

“The pandemic has already taken a lot from us. We need to spread the message, even more and more. Ensuring that sufficient numbers of people are vaccinated is important. South Africans must combat the conspiracy theories about vaccines. We must spread a message that vaccines are effective, working  and are helpful,” Ramaphosa said.

“Poverty is pervasive and too many people go to bed hungry. Much more needs to be done to deal with this challenge. We need to think out of the box and come up with new strategies.”

On unemployment, the president said that the ANC’s most recent national executive committee lekgotla had agreed that one of the most pressing issues the government should tackle was unemployment.  

“We identified a number of measures that will assist us to increase job creation. Our economy may not have as much room as the other countries. We need to develop proposals for the renewing of our economy,” Ramaphosa said.

Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi said the trade union federation is urging the government to intensify the fight against corruption.

“We cannot afford to outsource our task to the government. We must hold leaders accountable. If we remain united we will emerge strong to improve the lives of workers,” Losi said.  

She added that whatever decision Cosatu decides to take after the meeting about its support for the governing party, it would have short- and long-term repercussions for all workers under the federation, as well as the country’s broadening political terrain.

According to Ramaphosa, infrastructure development is the backbone of our economy and new investment in renewable energy, mining, health, education and public transport is important. The involvement of the federation in implementing these initiatives is crucial.

Talking about the upcoming local government elections, which are set to take place on 1 November, he said the ANC welcomes the decision by the Constitutional Court to reopen candidate nominations.  

“The local government elections should be seen as a watershed moment for our democracy,” Ramaphosa said. “Those who will be chosen to lead our local government will be qualified people. We are carefully selecting and choosing people who are going to serve our people.”

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Chris Gilili
Chris Gilili is a climate and environmental journalist at the Mail & Guardian’s environmental unit, covering socioeconomic issues and general news. Previously, he was a fellow at amaBhungane, the centre for investigative journalism.

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