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Johannesburg - Cosatu hasn’t wasted any time in endorsing the ANC’s election manifesto, hailing it as a true reflection of the aspirations of millions of South Africans.
The labour federation’s president, S’dumo Dlamini, and acting general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali assumed the role of principal cheerleaders for the strategic election document on Wednesday.
They went so far as to say Cosatu would soon launch a booklet mobilising workers to vote for the ANC.
This is despite the pair admitting that Cosatu was not consulted on some economic aspects of the manifesto – especially on the contentious national youth wage subsidy and e-tolls.
“We agreed to set up a task team to deal with those areas on which we don’t agree. That meeting only met once, so there hasn’t been much progress,” Dlamini said at a media briefing in Joburg.
“Our position is that of total opposition to the national youth wage subsidy. We say there was no consultation at Nedlac (National Economic Development and Labour Council), and the act has now been passed by Parliament.”
Despite claims of lack of consultation, Dlamini and Ntshalintshali heaped praise on the ANC and its manifesto.
“Cosatu believes this election manifesto builds on the progress made in the past 20 years and introduces key commitments which we agree with,” Ntshalintshali said.
Each paragraph in the four-page statement had phrases such as “we welcome”, “we agree” or “we fully support”.
Even with the controversial Gauteng e-tolling, Cosatu’s criticism of the ANC seemed tame and half-hearted.
“The federation welcomes the bold plans to extend and improve public transport, so that we have an affordable, safe and reliable… system, but deeply regrets that there is no pledge to scrap e-tolls.
“(They) are a grossly unfair and inefficient way of forcing people to pay for what should be a basic public service.”
Meanwhile, Cosatu appears to be extending an olive branch to its disgruntled metalworkers’ union affiliate, Numsa, which recently resolved to withdraw its backing for the ANC in the elections.
Dlamini said on Wednesday that the federation had written to Numsa, suggesting a meeting soon.
“We must have that meeting so that we can clear a number of issues… That meeting is very critical,” Dlamini said, adding that Cosatu had held a “positive” meeting with Numsa on Tuesday.
This came after Cosatu on Monday formally presented its suspended general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi with charges of financial irregularity and bringing the federation into disrepute, five months after its central executive committee suspended him for having sex with a junior employee at work.
Dlamini confirmed that Vavi had been formally charged. When quizzed why this only happened five months after Vavi was suspended, he suggested it could have been Vavi himself who delayed the investigations.
Dlamini refused to say whether formal charges had been served on the junior woman staff member.