11 October 2020
Its ANC masters have seen this movie before
Conscience of a Centrist
By Kabelo Khumalo
“If we know anything, it is that weakness is provocative,” George W Bush’s former secretary of defence and Iraq war proponent Donald Rumsfeld once said.
Simply put, what the warlord meant to convey was that any sign of weakness invites more attacks – that one must stand firm on one’s ideals.
This quote sprang to mind listening to what is starting to sound like a broken record – Cosatu threatening (for the umpteenth time) to ditch the ANC at the polls.
Sadly, this is part of what has become a long tradition of the federation – to threaten to hurt its master at the polls, only to be front and centre of the ANC’s campaign come election time. The lure of having its former leaders representing the ANC in parliament and occupying positions in cabinet is too much for the federation to resist.
One of the biggest ironies of the past decade was the federation severing ties with Numsa, its biggest affiliate at the time.
Who can forget the summer of 2014 when 33 votes at Cosatu’s special central executive committee meeting decided the fate of more than 350000 workers?
The expulsion of Numsa was a microcosm of Cosatu’s weakness. It was a failure of the federation to place the interest of workers first. It is worth remembering that the ANC’s policies and leadership battles were central to the fallout between Cosatu and Numsa.
Numsa’s biggest crime was to democratically, in its own congress, argue for the political independence of the federation given the worsening material conditions of the working class as a result of “neo-liberal” ANC policies.
Six years later, the working class Cosatu purports to represent is in the eye of the storm – the economy is out of joint and millions have lost their jobs. Corruption is the ANC’s daily bread.
What then should we make of Cosatu’s repeated threats to withhold its support for the ANC? Nothing! The ANC has seen this movie before and is not shaken by the federation’s kindergarten threats.
To add salt to the gaping wound, workers at the federation’s investment firm, Kopano Ke Matla, are struggling to put food on the table while the powers that be at Cosatu House are not intervening.
Make up your mind, Cosatu, on whether you’re just happy being kingmakers at ANC conferences or if you want to influence the policy trajectory of the governing party to the left.