Johannesburg – Cosatu this week deferred two key decisions at the trade union federation’s national congress to its last central executive committee (CEC) meeting of the year.
The country’s biggest federation was largely expected at its four-day gathering in Midrand, Johannesburg to decide whether or not it will back its long-time ally, the SA Communist Party (SACP), ahead of the 2024 national and provincial elections.
There was also a lot of anticipation that the national congress, which ended on Thursday, would also decide on who it will support during the ANC national conference scheduled for December.
The CEC manages Cosatu’s affairs between its national congress and central committee and is composed of its national office bearers, chairpersons and provincial secretaries, delegates from the gender structures, representatives from affiliates including two of their national leaders from each affiliate with less than 80 000 members and four national leaders from affiliates with more than 80 000 members.
Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi, who was re-elected unopposed, said the national congress has not declared that the federation’s affiliates and members were moving away from the tripartite alliance but wanted a reconfigured alliance.
"What workers were debating is informed by the last congress resolution in 2018 where we said we want a reconfigured alliance and we said in the next local government elections (in 2021) Cosatu will mobilise for the victory of the ANC,” she explained.
Losi continued: “Between 2018 and now in this congress, we want a reconfigured alliance. In the absence of that, for the next elections, which will be the general elections, Cosatu will consider moving and supporting the SACP to contest state power and this is what informed the discussions we were having today (Thursday).”
She said the national congress ended because delegates were waiting for the finalisation of the count of the outcomes of the motion to back the SACP.
"But we agreed that all other matters will be processed in the next CEC, which will be in November and the outcomes of this will form part of the (national congress) declaration,” Losi added.
On the question of who Cosatu will back to lead the ANC at its national conference, Losi expressed doubt that the federation will enter this debate at this week’s national congress.
"Every time we enter that debate it is a resolution of the national congress, this congress did not resolve but we will have to see what leaders are saying and whether they will get mandates from their respective affiliates. After this congress, we will have to see what they (affiliates) will bring to the CEC,” she clarified.
Losi refused to pre-empt the agenda of the CEC in November because it will be the last CEC before the ANC, of which she is a member of the national executive committee, goes to the conference in December.
"We have no other meeting between now and November before Cosatu can make any declaration. So we do not have a candidate as we stand,” she said.
The SACP has indicated that it was ready as a working class party to contest elections against the background of the related critical questions of the necessity to reconfigure the tripartite alliance, and renew and unite the ANC.
SACP general secretary Solly Mapaila said stopping the neoliberal economic trajectory pursued by the National Treasury and the SA Reserve Bank must be the precondition for supporting the ANC electorally if the support has to continue.
"The working class must not sign a blank cheque … Someone was saying the SACP is not ready to contest elections. Please allow us to respond to that in one sentence: ‘The SACP is ready to contest elections: Full stop!’ Do not ever say the SACP is not ready,” added Mapaila.
Losi was re-elected with other national office bearers, including first deputy president Mike Shingange and treasurer Freda Oosthuysen.
The national congress also elected new national office bearers in second deputy president Duncan Luvuno and deputy general secretary Gerald Twala, who defeated Moses Lekota by 1 187 to 599 votes.
Twala’s predecessor Solly Phetoe was elected unopposed as general secretary, replacing Bheki Ntshalintshali.