Cape Town 100803- Premier Helen Zille at the Provincial legislature. Picture Cindy waxa.Reporter Argus/Cape Times

DA leader Helen Zille has accused Cosatu of back-tracking on an invitation for the party to join its protest marches on Wednesday – but the labour federation denies making the offer.

“Nobody invited the DA to take part,” Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven said.

Zille said she had responded to a “broad and over-arching invitation” that was “specifically directed to the DA by name” through Cosatu’s Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich.

After reading reports about this on Monday, Zille said she informed Craven the DA accepted, but when she tried to contact general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi to discuss logistics he did not return her call.

When they spoke later, Zille said she told Vavi the DA would have a problem if Cosatu intended calling teachers out of classrooms to take part.

Vavi was about to do a radio interview and said he would call her back, Zille said.

Instead she received an SMS on Tuesday morning. It said: “Hi Helen – thanks for the call and sms. I checked with both HQ and Gauteng province of Cosatu – no one has invited you.

“Politically it will be a disaster for us if we are seen to be joining hands with you even on the areas of common concern such as the tollgates.

“I know you won’t agree or like this but we want to stay pure and not get the opposition political parties joining the march. Please understand.”

Zille said she would not normally have made the SMS public, but it had been reported that Vavi on Tuesday reiterated a call for all organisations to get involved, although “participating political parties” would not be allowed to push their own agendas. - Political Bureau