Cosatu’s Bheki Ntshalintshali: SA risks becoming a mafia state

Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali warned that the country could become a “mafia state” and susceptible to a coup should things continue as they currently are.

FILE: Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - Cosatu has described several grave scenarios that could befall South Africa should corruption and maladministration continue in government and business.

In a wide-ranging interview with Eyewitness News, Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali warned that the country could become a “mafia state” and susceptible to a coup should things continue as they currently are.

Out of the country’s working age population of over 38 million people, only 14 million are employed while poverty persists.

Ntshalintshali has painted a bleak future for the country and its citizens should society and workers not take a stand against the continued looting of public funds.

In an interview with Eyewitness News ahead of the federation’s Section 77 national strike on Wednesday, Ntshalintshali said the country faced three threats:

A dictatorship; a mafia state, where it’s going to be the survival of the fittest and bringing an end to trade unions; or a coup.

WATCH: Cosatu warns SA could become a mafia state if nothing is done

He said this was the reason that all South Africans had to feel obligated to act now.

“But what people would then do, is they will read the history and say where were the others when this was happening? We said if you can show them, I think they will spit at the graves of those who were there and say you did nothing.

“Because sometimes what we are supposed to do now is not for our interest, but it is for future generations which will be asking, why did you allow this to happen?”

Wednesday’s protest action will include mass stay-aways by workers in all sectors of the economy after the SA Federation of Trade Unions - to which the largest union in the country Numsa belongs - threw its weight behind the strike.


Cosatu, as an ANC alliance partner, has admitted to losing influence in government, while it maintained that it still enjoyed political support from the party.

The organisation has been on a cliffhanger over its continued allegiance to the governing party - after years of broken promises.

Ntshalintshali told Eyewitness News that the growth of the right-wing in the ANC has led to the federation’s loss of political power in government.

The federation that represents 1.6 million workers – the majority of who work in the public service - will be striking against the government on Wednesday over among other issues, the failure to increase the salaries of civil servants this year despite a pre-existing agreement.

Despite saying Cosatu enjoyed the ANC’s support, Ntshalintshali added that the federation’s members were questioning this as it no longer held sway in wage negotiations with government, among other mandates.

“The question is being asked every time is what kind of a government can enter into a collective government and implement it for two years and not implement it in the last years and question the constitutionality of that agreement.

“Those workers are asking those questions. Members are asking why we should continue supporting the ANC,” said Ntshalintshali.

WATCH: Cosatu: We continually assess our support of the ANC

Some of Cosatu’s affiliates have threatened to withdraw their support for the party in the upcoming local government elections should government’s posture towards labour not change.

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