Sadtu takes Cosatu to court over decision to support SACP in 2024 elections

Published Apr 8, 2023


Johannesburg – Trade union federation Cosatu appears to be heading for another crisis after the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) filed papers with the Johannesburg Labour Court challenging the federation’s resolution to support the SA Communist Party in next year's general elections outside of the ANC-led alliance.

In the papers, Sadtu argues the resolution was wrongly adopted, even after it was resolved there should be a special congress to deliberate on the matter.

Sadtu accuses the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) of ramming through the resolution.

The two unions recently exchanged heated public statements over the issue of public sector wage negotiations.

Also cited in the court papers – running to 100 pages – are 17 unions affiliated with the federation, which is in alliance with the ANC.

The main affidavit for the case was filed by Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke; the date for the case is yet to be determined.

Maluleke said they want the court to interdict Cosatu from implementing the federation’s decision to support the SACP to contest state power.

Giving background regarding the matter, Maluleke said it started at Cosatu’s national congress in September last year, where two motions from Sadtu and Nehawu were tabled.

“Sadtu, in the main, proposed a process which would have culminated in a constitutional complaint being taken.

“To this end the Sadtu proposed a special national congress at which a final decision would have been taken once various other processes would have been followed.

“Neither the Nehawu motion nor Sadtu motion contained any clause that SACP intended to contest state power through the ballot in 2024, or most importantly, that Cosatu should support the SACP in pursuing the contestation of state power.

“As it appears on both motions, neither proposed that Cosatu should resolve to support the SACP in the 2024 general elections.

“Accordingly, the national congress could not competently have, in the absence of proper amendments to the motions, resolved that the federation supports the SACP’s stance in the 2024 general elections,” Maluleke said in his affidavit.

He also said the matter was put through a vote, and claimed the counting of the votes was not credible.

“I wish to point out that the results of the voting at the national congress were not announced at the national congress, as counting could not be concluded before the close of the national congress.

“The counting of the votes continued outside (the) national congress.

“This simply means that there is hardly any assurance on the credibility of the counting of the votes,” he said.

Sadtu spokesperson Nomusa Cembi confirmed to IOL they are heading to the Labour Court.

“I wish to point out that Sadtu, as with other affiliates, is not averse to any decision of the federation to support the SACP to contest state power.

“Sadtu objects to a decision of such a magnitude being taken in total disregard of the constitution of the federation, as this undermines the democratic values of the federation.

“The conduct of the [central executive committee] has the potential to create an environment where decisions which are not taken lawfully are implemented.

“Sadtu objects to a process which undermines the autonomy of the affiliates as enshrined in the constitution of Cosatu.

“Sadtu and other affiliates have a right to consult their members and comply with their constitutions before a decision of this nature can be taken.

“The leaders of the affiliates are but representatives and must at all times get a mandate from the membership, particularly on decisions which have such serious implications.

“A matter of this nature has the potential to cause divisions between affiliates and within the federation which the affiliates and the federation can ill afford.

“A decision of this nature may result in affiliates disregarding the programme of the federation which is wholly undesirable as this will undermine the founding values and objectives of the federation as set out in the preamble and clause 1.4 of the constitution of the federation,” Cembi said.

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