Cape Town - The biggest public sector union, Nehawu, has sent its wishes to the ANC as its national conference kicks off at Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg on Friday.
“We appreciate that there is just so much at stake and that hangs on the outcomes of this conference in terms of the renewal of the ANC; the unity and cohesion of the Alliance; the outcomes of the 2024 national elections and the implications thereof on the course of the NDR (national democratic revolution),” said Nehawu general secretary Zola Saphetha.
Saphetha made the comment in a statement issued following the union’s central executive committee meeting.
Nehawu’s statement was mum on support for any of the candidates vying for the top six positions, including President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Instead, Saphetha said, the CEC meeting agreed to roll out a programme for engagement and mobilising support for its members on the decision of the SACP to contest the 2024 elections.
“The national union will convene an extended national political commission early in March 2023 to strengthen our discussion document on the Left Popular Front … ” he said.
The stance taken by Nehawu could be a blow to Ramaphosa, who enjoyed the backing of the ANC-aligned unions at the 2017 national conference.
This does come as a surprise considering that Cosatu last week took a decision to remain neutral in the jostling for positions in the ANC.
The move comes at a time that the government has not acceded to demands for salary increases.
Last week, Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said the labour federation has not not formally endorsed any candidate, including Ramaphosa.
Pamla said the federation has consciously decided to remain neutral on issues of leadership and focus on conference policy outcomes and organisational resolutions.
“Cosatu, therefore, will not be campaigning for any candidate but will support all those elected by the conference,” he said.
Cosatu in KwaZulu-Natal merely noted the ANC national conference at its provincial executive committee meeting.
“We agree with our CEC that the federation must prepare itself for policy discussions and help the ANC to unite behind a solid programme of fixing the country’s socio-economic challenges,” provincial secretary Edwin Mkhize said.
Mkhize said they appreciated the ongoing debate on the SACP contesting state power.
“This is critical because there appears to be a basic unanimity on the need for a more radical second phase of our democratic transition.
“It is also clear that this consensus is on the surface and relates only to intentions and objectives rather than the actual practical content of what this means,” he said.
“The working class has no choice but to take the lead and ensure that it is not overtaken by other class forces in shaping the future of the Alliance and the country,” Mkhize added.