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May Day: Dlamini, Ntshalintshali won't discuss Zuma exclusion

Nehawu and CWU have written to Cosatu requesting that the president be stopped from speaking at the May Day event in the Free State on Monday.

FILE: Cosatu's President Sdumo Dlamini addresses the media at Cosatu house in Braamfontein on the Trade Union Federation's call for President Jacob Zuma to step down on 4 April 2017. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – Both the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) president Sdumo Dlamini and the federation's general secretary Bheki Ntshalitshali say they are no longer going to comment on the request by at least two unions that President Jacob Zuma be stopped from addressing Cosatu's May Day rally on Monday.

Unions, the National Health Education & Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) have both written to Cosatu House, saying that it would be inconsistent with the federation's resolution that Zuma should no longer be the president for him to speak at the rally.

Earlier this month Cosatu said it had taken a formal decision that the president should step down following his reshuffle and removal of Pravin Gordhan as finance minister.

Traditionally the president of the African National Congress speaks at the May Day rally where Cosatu's president is speaking. This year that event will be in the Free State.

But labour analyst Gavin Brown says Nehawu's request for Zuma to not attend is hugely significant.

“It is clear that the anti-Zuma forces in Cosatu are feeling confident enough to throw their weight around because this event will be held in Bloemfontein – which is the heartland of one of Zuma’s most ardent supporters.”

It now appears Zuma will have to decide whether to still attend the rally and risk being booed or to skip the event altogether.