Last Wednesday he attended Zuma’s birthday bash in Soweto, which was snubbed by high-profile ANC and tripartite alliance leaders.
Considered a loyal Zuma ally, Dlamini called on Zuma to “remain strong” in the midst of these “hard, trying times”.
Zuma looked on as Dlamini told him: “As you are my leader and we tackle these issues I need you to be strong.”
Cosatu called on Zuma to step down, saying: “Cosatu no longer believes that the president is the right person to unite and lead the movement, the alliance and the country.
“We think that after all his undeniable contribution to both the movement and government, the time has arrived for him to step down and allow the country to be led forward by a new collective at government level.”
Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said: “Clearly, the Cosatu leadership are divided. If they were not, Dlamini would have been very enthusiastic in calling for Zuma to step down. He has been very quiet As president of the organisation, he would have been very vocal on that.
“Dlamini has always been a staunch Zuma ally, so he is going to try to push back any Zuma criticism within the organisation, even if the numbers are against him.”
Another political analyst, Dumisani Hlophe, said he did not think Dlamini was speaking on behalf of Cosatu at Zuma’s birthday celebrations.
“I think he has a personal relationship with the president.
“Look, I think Sdumo’s power within Cosatu is extremely diminished. I think those who do not want the president are the dominant grouping within Cosatu.
“This is why I’m saying I’m not convinced he was speaking there on behalf of Cosatu.
“I think they (Cosatu) took a decision (for Zuma to step down) and they stood behind that decision, Sdumo is the odd one out, because he has always been on the side of the president. He respects Cosatu’s collective decision.”
In a statement, Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said Dlamini attended “birthday celebrations of a friend and a comrade, and counting on the fair-mindedness and fairness of the audience, he offered some words of solidarity and support to a friend on his birthday.
“He has a right to attend parties or celebrations of whatever nature,” she said.
Dlamini could not be reached for comment on Monday night.