Boost to Ramaphosa as Cosatu offers support

Tuesday March 05 2019

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa got a major boost ahead of the crucial May 8 elections after the powerful Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) resolved to support the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

Last month, Cosatu threatened to convince its 1.5 million members to punish ANC at the polls because it continued to sideline tripartite partners in making key decisions.

ANC is part of a tripartite alliance with Cosatu and the South African Communist Party (SACP).

The February warning by Cosatu was sparked by an announcement by President Ramaphosa to split power utility Eskom into three separate units – responsible for power generation, distribution and transmission – a decision that would potentially leave hundreds jobless.

Going to agree

But Cosatu’s central executive committee (CEC) has since announced its decision to stick with the South African leader.


However, Cosatu’s deputy secretary-general Solly Phetoe, warned they would still challenge President Ramaphosa on issues affecting workers

“Our support for Cyril does not mean we are going to agree with everything he says that is disadvantaging workers,” he said.

At its national congress last year, Cosatu resolved that all its unions should make resources available to campaign for ANC.

Despite the labour federation’s clear signs of discomfort with the ANC, Mr Phetoe said the federation did not regret supporting President Ramaphosa.

Stiff challenge

Relations between ANC and Cosatu were strained during Jacob Zuma’s tumultuous second tenure in office. Mr Zuma made key decisions like Cabinet reshuffles without engaging his party’s tripartite partners.

Gauteng provincial secretary Dumisani Dakile has previously accused ANC under President Ramaphosa of “having no appetite” for change.

Mr Dakile said the federation had repeatedly asked ANC to consider the views of its partners when making key decisions.

“We can tell you that it seems like the ANC has no appetite for the reconfiguration of the alliance. It is resisting, as far as we are concerned,” said Mr Dakile.

President Ramaphosa is the face of the alliance at the May polls, where he faces stiff challenge from the Economic Freedom Fighters’ Julius Malema and the Democratic Alliance’s Mmusi Maimane.