Nehawu: Let's put politics aside as Zuma speaks on May Day

The union has called on members to be disciplined today as President Zuma addresses Cosatu's May Day rally.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG – National Health Education & Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) has called on unions to put their political differences aside as President Jacob Zuma prepares to address the main workers' rally in Bloemfontein.

Zuma is expected to address the rally in his capacity as African National Congress (ANC) president despite three unions pushing against Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu)’s decision to allow him to speak.

The unions have raised concerns that Zuma’s attendance will send conflicting messages given that the federation has called for him to step down.

Nehawu, which is one those three unions, has called on members to be disciplined today.

Union spokesperson Khaya Xaba says, “Any other issue that may arise would have to be discussed by the leadership at a later stage. So the day can’t go to waste just because of a few political glitches, and workers must just enjoy the day.”

Cosatu’s Bheki Ntshalintshali says people are free to express their views, but the central executive committee (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’.”

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)