Johannesburg – Laour federation Cosatu has stopped short of formally endorsing a candidate to succeed President Jacob Zuma when he steps down as leader of the ruling party in December next year.
The ANC alliance partner is viewed as backing Cyril Ramaphosa, Zuma’s deputy in the ANC and government, to succeed him. But it has remained tight-lipped on the succession debate because of an ANC ban on the matter. On Tuesday, the fragmented labour federation said it would assist the ANC claw back its support following its disastrous performance in last month’s municipal elections.
Addressing the media at a meeting of the central executive committee in Joburg, Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said they encouraged “healthy debate” on ANC succession, adding the movement’s unity was paramount.
“The current political and economic challenges are happening in the midst of a raging contest on who should lead the ANC out of its current quagmire into the future.
“In dealing with this issue, Cosatu has argued that all discussions should take place with the intent of uniting the ANC and the alliance, but also open a new path that will see the ANC abandoning the politics of slates that breed the fallacy of composition. We are not pronouncing on any name as Cosatu. We are clearly stating that we are not doing that for now. There will be a discussion in our affiliates.”
Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini said the federation was being strategic by adopting a cautious approach in dealing with succession planning.
“The ANC, in appointing, must follow its traditions and practices. I know people are arguing and expecting Cosatu to be reckless and loose.
“We are not going to do that. We are engaging in this discussion quite seriously and understanding that they have a huge impact on South Africa as a society and a huge impact on the expectations of workers.”
Dlamini said the chosen leadership should have the ability to unite the alliance and benefit workers and the poor.
“Move with the people. Never make the mistake of leaving (workers) behind.”
The federation also noted it was dealing not only with the weakening support of the ANC, but also with social despondency caused by “pressures of the economic crisis”.