Cosatu stands by decision to let Zuma address Workers’ Day rally

Some Cosatu unions have raised concerns that the attendance of Jacob Zuma at the rally would send conflicting messages.

FILE: Cosatu General Secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) General Secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali says it stands firm by its central executive committee (CEC) decision that President Jacob Zuma must address today’s workers' rally despite some objection.

He says the CEC has the final say and Zuma will today address workers in the Free State at the Bloemfontein gathering.

Ntshalintshali says any union that calls for the president to be barred from today’s official Workers Day rally in Bloemfontein will be viewed by leaders as ill-disciplined.

Some Cosatu unions raised concerns that the attendance of Zuma at the rally would send conflicting messages.

Ntshalintshali says people are free to express their views, but the CEC has already taken a decision.

“The union in the CEC says this is the decision we’ve taken, we’re united in this particular decision. There’s no union in a meeting that says ‘I have some reservations on this decision’.”

At least three Cosatu unions have warned that allowing the president to address Cosatu members would send a confusing message because the federation had taken a resolution that Zuma should step down as president.

Previously Cosatu’s Sizwe Pamla confirmed that Zuma would be representing the African National Congress at the rally.

He said the fact that some unions had objected to his address was not an issue.

“Right now is it not an issue, Cosatu works through resolutions. There’s no resolution banning the president from addressing Cosatu meetings as the president of the African National Congress.”

However, he seemed to be aware that some members may boo the president.

“We hope that workers can celebrate with a level of discipline as they have always done in the past.”

Pamla also confirmed South African Communist Party (SACP) leader Blade Nzimande, whose organisation also called on Zuma to step down, will join the president today.

The SACP has resolved that Zuma is no longer fit to hold office and should step down.

Nzimande said the party was sometimes sidelined by the ruling party during decision making, but was still expected to support the outcome.

“But when wrong decisions are taken we are expected to defend them as allies. No, the time for that now has ended.”

He said it was about time the SACP focused on itself as a movement and grow itself.

Nzimande said the tripartite alliance was bigger than any individual and persons who destroyed the ANC from within should be held to account.

He criticised government’s handling of state capture and said something should be done immediately.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)