The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) will convene a special central committee meeting to deal with the events that led to it cancelling all the speeches at its main May Day rally.
Cosatu said in a statement on Wednesday that it regretted that Monday’s main May Day rally in Bloemfontein, where President Jacob Zuma was booed by a portion of the crowd, was turned into “political theatre”.
“Of course, without a doubt, this was a regrettable and unacceptable incident and we shall be convening an urgent special central committee meeting to deal with what happened and also decide on a way forward in preparation for the upcoming central committee meeting.
“We do regret that workers did not hear the federation’s message from the Cosatu president and that their event was hijacked and converted into a political theatre.”
The union blasted those who said all its rallies had been cancelled, saying the vast majority of them had been successful.
“In Bloemfontein, the only part of the celebration that was cancelled was the last part, where the main May Day message and the accompanying solidarity messages were to be delivered.
“It is therefore not true and quite misleading for anyone to say that the national May Day event was completely cancelled in Bloemfontein.”
Workers ‘angry’ at ANC factionalism
Cosatu said some of the disruptions at May Day rallies on Monday reflect workers’ anger toward an increasingly factionalised ANC.
The deteriorating relationship between the ANC and its alliance partners and the factionalised nature of alliance politics of late were evident at Cosatu’s main rally in Bloemfontein this week.
“It also reflects the fact that workers have reached a dead end and are angry with the factionalised state of the ANC and the dearth of leadership in the movement,” Cosatu said.
Cosatu said it was concerning that some leaders of factions within the ANC organised events to coincide with their May Day celebrations.
“There were also some crowds that were rented with the purpose to disrupt the national event in Bloemfontein.
“We condemn these reactionary acts of hooliganism and we shall raise this issue sharply when we meet with our alliance partners in the soon-to-be-convened alliance political council meeting.”
Cosatu said it regrets that the alliance has reached a stage where organisational power is not used for asserting a people-centred development, but rather used to fight internal factional battles to get people elected.
They also slammed those who said the events were a result of the union publicly backing Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to succeed Zuma at the ANC’s elective conference in December.
“It is noticeable that the same ANC lacks the appetite to reprimand its own structures that are openly campaigning in support of Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
“It is these double standards and factionalised reasoning that are testing the patience of the workers and ultimately eroding the discipline and the comradeship that has united the alliance for decades.”
Workers were growing tired of the ANC government’s failure to deal honestly and decisively with issues like e-tolls, labour brokers, unemployment and retrenchments, the labour union federation argued.
Cosatu warned the ANC that workers no longer wanted to remain “enslaved in waged labour”.
It finished by saying it was an unshaken member of the alliance and would stand firm as their struggle for workers’ rights was political in nature.