Socialist Worker

Union rows reflect the struggle in South Africa

by Mondli Hlatshwayo, activist from Johannesburg
Issue No. 2351

A battle is underway over the leadership of South Africa’s two million-strong union federation Cosatu.

On the surface it seems to relate to allegations of corruption against Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi. 

It is really part of the fallout from an unofficial strike wave 

that followed the police killing of 34 striking miners at Marikana last year.

Cosatu remains an important political centre for organised workers and for the African National Congress (ANC)-led government.

Those who are anti-Vavi feel that Vavi and his supporters are too critical of the ANC. 

In fact Vavi and his supporters are not calling for Cosatu’s alliance with the ANC to be broken. 

They are only hinting that it would be hard to convince workers to vote for the ANC in the 2014 general election. 

The battle reflects the increasing economic and social difficulties facing workers and sections of the middle class. 

People are involved in struggles but they aren’t coordinated. Cosatu has not actively supported them.

The cracks within Cosatu create a possibility of building a broad alliance between working class people and workers’ struggles.

The task for socialists is to strengthen these struggles and the links between them.


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