Labour federation COSATU says it will not abandon its key ally the ANC during this year’s local government elections – despite an earlier threat that it would consider doing so.
COSATU announced the decision in a statement released on Thursday following a special Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting held this week.
No election boycott
“The meeting concluded that despite the challenges facing the working class and the current tensions, the federation will not boycott the elections and will implement its resolution of supporting the ANC in the upcoming local government elections, while also contesting its direction,” spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said.
“We are not abandoning the ANC yet because as part of the Alliance, we do not want to open a political vacuum that will see the organisation hijacked by the reactionary and criminal elements who have been attempting to capture it since the 1994 democratic breakthrough.”
The federation and ANC’s relations are currently strained following government’s decision to renege on its 2018 wage agreement with public sector workers.
In February, COSATU said it was finding it more difficult to convince its members to continue voting for the ANC, adding that workers feel like “they are being asked to vote against their own interests.”
Despite its decision not to abandon ANC, COSATU said it will conduct “a parallel campaign to defend collective bargaining” later this year alongside election campaigns.
Pamla explained, “There is a real possibility that workers in the public service and the public sector, in general, will be on strike fighting the wage freeze and retrenchments during elections.
“We will not compromise on this campaign and we are encouraging all our unions to mobilise and fight back against retrenchments.”
The special CEC resolved to convene urgent meetings with the ANC and SA Communist Party (SACP) within 14 days to discuss the challenges facing workers and society in general.
According to the CEC, the problems facing workers “are mainly driven by political choices and decision-making by those in government and other sites of power.”
“The meeting concluded that workers do not have the luxury to indulge in political abstentionism in the face of deepening class contestations of both the ANC and the state,” Pamla said.
“This will also be a fallacy of composition, where we end up dismissing an entire party as rotten on the grounds of one or two components we do not agree with.”
Public sector unions have taken their wage dispute with the government to the Constitutional Court after losing a case at the Labour Court last year. Hearing has been scheduled for August.