The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has rejected Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema’s "unprincipled and amoral attacks" on teachers.
This comes after Malema urged the EFF members to ensure there is a party agent at every voting station in the country to monitor any fishy movement during the 2024 general elections.
“We must make sure that staff members of the IEC are not Sadtu members because Cosatu said it’s going to support the ANC, and Sadtu is an affiliate of Cosatu,” he said.
In a statement, Cosatu said proposing to ban teachers from playing any role in assisting the IEC was a slippery slope. It added that Malema’s rantings may be legal in his political party but hold no weight in a constitutional democracy.
"Will other workers be banned next simply because their union is supporting one or another party? Will this then be extended to voters who have decided to vote for some party on election day? Ultimately, the overwhelming majority of South Africans have political views and express them in different ways as the Constitution entitles them to," it said.
It said the IEC was free to employ South Africans who meet their requirements, irrespective of whether they belong to a teachers’ or any other trade union.
The trade union highlighted that for the IEC to run the elections in a free and fair manner, it needed to have strong and transparent systems in place.
"The IEC has these systems and has run elections with distinction for nearly thirty years," it said.
According to the union, teachers apply for employment with the IEC as individuals and are held accountable by the commission for their performance as individuals. "Sadtu does not apply for them," it maintained.
Despite Malema’s remarks, Cosatu said neither he nor his political party have ever produced any evidence or laid a charge with the police or the Electoral Court of a single teacher having swayed an election in favour of the ANC.
"The ANC has not only repeatedly won free and fair elections with resounding majorities, but it has also lost and conceded elections with grace and without qualm," it said.
It encouraged Malema to familiarise himself with the Constitution and the Electoral Act instead of tweeting.
Malema dismissed both Sadtu and Cosatu's calls for an apology on Wednesday and told them to "go to hell" because he would not apologise for anything.