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‘Comrade turning against comrade’

Professor says the new political landscape is forcing former allies to turn against each other.

The new political landscape is forcing former allies to turn against each other, according to a professor. Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - A local professor says the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) is at a crossroads.

Professor Sakhela Buhlungu has co-written a book called Cosatu's Contested Legacy.

The book analyses the trade union federation over the past 16 years.

Currently, Cosatu is battling factionalism which is threatening to weaken it.

Professor Buhlungu told the Redi Tlhabi Show that Cosatu was facing its biggest challenge yet.

"I don't think anyone could have predicted this even a year ago that the crisis would intensify to this extent. Many people didn't expect it. Many people never saw it coming. I'm proud to say that in the book we did see it coming."

Buhlungu said a lot has changed post 1994 and unions are forced to compete against fellow comrades.

"The game is changing now. The stakes have gone higher all around partly because the fighting is now internal within the alliance family. Comrade is turning against comrade. Worker is turning against worker. Leader is turning against leader."

In August, Cosatu suspended its secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi after he admitted to having an extra marital affair with a junior employee.

Vavi has indicated he plans to fight his suspension as he maintains he did not break any Cosatu rules.

He has been vocal against corruption, the Protection of State Information Bill (POSIB) and the Gauteng e-tolls.

Some believe his public criticism of government caused his downfall. But his critics have accused him of deviating from Cosatu policy.

Vavi has since apologised publicly for his error of judgment.