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Cosatu must choose between the working class and the ANC or Zuma

SANDILE GUMEDE asks who workers are supposed to trust when the organisation tasked to represent them is not looking out for their interests.

When reading an article about Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini where he was quoted as saying the Democratic Alliance is an anti-workers’ organisation, I almost fell off my chair.

“It’s a message that is clear, very clear, it’s unambiguous – the DA will not be what the workers are looking for,” Dlamini was quoted as saying.

This was not because one thinks the democrats have interests of workers at heart, but made me question the stance of Cosatu on labour issues. On many occasions where rights of workers are violated, Cosatu and Dlamini have been subdued or been missing in action.

He was further quoted as saying the decline in ANC support should serve as a final warning shot for the ruling party that something is wrong. Finally! We have something in common on that one. The 54 Sauer Street-based organisation, through its leaders, had shown arrogance before the August 3rd elections.

Some ANC leaders reckoned voters would religiously vote for their party because it is a “liberation” movement. They kept on making racist remarks saying other parties are “white” parties instead of reviving hope and confidence in many of their supporters who have lost confidence in the leadership of the party.

The NEC of the ANC have failed to decisively deal with the leadership style or lack thereof of president Jacob Zuma after so many fumbles. For starters Nkandlagate and the link to the Gupta family – which have gained notoriety since he became the president of the country for pulling “his strings”.

The Cosatu president is among the staunch supporters of Zuma – on whom Zuma should not shoulder the mishaps of the organisation he leads. I’d assume the link to the Gupta family is not his (Zuma’s) fault. The Nkandla issue was blown out of proportion as he once said in a debate in 2013 (aired by ANN7).

This also reminds me the Durban march against e-tolls and labour brokers in 2013. When addressing the attendees, Dlamini declared that the march was “not a march against Zuma”. Angikuncikiseli Msholozi, kodwa ngithi uhulumeni akalubhekisise loludaba (This is not the ultimatum against you Msholozi, but to government and all stakeholders involved), he said to a thunderous applause. Some might say there was nothing unbecoming about Dlamini’s statement. To me this meant Zuma had done nothing wrong alone, so he must not account for anything as a person.

It could be true that he (Zuma) did not act alone in taking these decisions, but as the captain of the ship he should shoulder the blame and get the credit. Now, once again, Dlamini remains one of the lieutenants of the giggling prince of Nkandla, saying Zuma is not the only one to blame.

As true commander-in-chief, Zuma should come out and concede that he is at fault. His strategies did not help the party to garner the support of the “clever blacks”.

Dlamini says workers ought not to trust the DA, but the question remains: who should they trust? The workers of late have found themselves in a very confusing position. Their representative (Cosatu) is in bed with an organisation that makes laws that hinder their progress and well-being (labour brokers, pension laws and e-tolls). Cosatu is made up of executives who are sacrificing the struggle of the working class to defend their political careers. Cosatu officials defend individuals instead of advancing the struggle of the workers.

So Mr Dlamini, do you blame workers for placing their trust in other organisations?

Sandile Gumede is a journalism lecturer at Rosebank College, Braamfontein and independent writer. He writes in his personal capacity

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