Manqoba Nxumalo
Manqoba Nxumalo

With an ‘oppositionist’ Cosatu, who needs a DA?

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe is not so happy with the “oppositionist” posture that Cosatu and some unions within the federation take when dealing with the ruling party.

The veteran former unionist surely feels that “as comrades with same revolutionary parent (read goal), let us talk gently and say our opprobrium behind closed doors, not in the presence of our nemesis”. You can’t fault Mantashe for his concerns. In the last couple of months, the ANC has endured sustained attacks from within and without. The left nexus feels the party is shifting right while the right feels the party is not right enough. Some people feel this leadership is the weakest in the history of the ANC and has completely lost the radar. In the meantime, the DA has grown bolder and more assertive, believing it can even take Gauteng out of the ruling party. Once the DA used to engage in what others call “clicktivism” (internet or social media activism) but they are now bold enough to march to Cosatu house and even … wait for it … Nkandla. Why? Because they think the ANC is more vulnerable now than any time in history.

The ANC, on the other hand, feels that they are being blamed for everything under the sun. I assume that when the party’s head honchos meet for drinks they take a look at the political scene and the media’s offensive and conclude “those (the media) must be ignored, they never accepted us right from Polokwane anyways”. I can imagine my favourite secretary general, Mantashe, remarking to Cyril Ramaphosa somewhere in Sandton that “while the ‘white’ media, ‘white’ opposition and imperialists hated Thabo Mbeki, they could tolerate him because he was seen as an intellectual who they could sit up and listen to. With us, they can’t accept how we chose an uneducated man to lead Africa’s biggest economy and how we ousted their favourite ‘president’. So relax mchana, the media has a reason to hate us but the people on the ground love and will vote for us”. With this they sip their favourite whiskey and enjoy the day without a care in the world. Let’s be honest. The ANC, and just about any government that can take over in this democracy, is actually irritated with the media. It’s good, though, because where the media and the government are bedfellows then that’s a banana state. So in the eyes of our “revolutionary” leaders, the media’s criticism is easy to ignore and rubbish. After all, no leader of the ANC worth his salt would not have been taught that “counter revolutionaries use the media to subvert revolutions”.

And then there is the criticism from those who have a “post-Polokwane hangover”, as Blade Nzimande would call them. Those are dismissed as having sour grapes and refusing to accept they were defeated. Those are personified by the likes of Ronnie Kasrils. I am sure when his name pops up in conversations within the corridors of power, he is simply dismissed as just a rumble in the jungle. Even those who have genuine things to say about how the republic is run have cowed into silence because they know it will be difficult for them not to be seen as having sour grapes. Talking of which what happened to Joel Netshitenzhe?

Then there is the traditional opposition, whether Agang, Economic Freedom Fighters or the Democratic Alliance, those are just not taken seriously. They are just that: the opposition. What would be their relevance if they didn’t find fault in everything the ANC does anyway? So our dearest secretary general does not worry about them as much. They can criticise the ANC for all they like, it is like farting in water.

But try criticising the ANC from within and you rile up Mantashe. He could not take it when this was done by the Malema youth league and will definitely not take it when it’s being done by an important alliance member like Cosatu. That is why he emphasised at the Popcru conference that the federation needs to talk to the ANC gently and they will listen. He even suggested that there could have been at least 10 Cosatu leaders in the ANC NEC had it not been for the Cosatu “problems”. But what Mantashe misses is that with an “oppositionist” Cosatu who needs the DA?

To the average person, there is no need to vote for an opposition in South Africa because Cosatu raises the things the DA and society at large complains about … and the ANC listens. Or do they? The alliance is good enough with a strong and stinging Cosatu. With a lapdog Cosatu the DA would be riding at the crest of the wave on e-tolls, corruption and maladministration and people would rightly consider voting them. But with an “oppositionist” Cosatu people feel there is no need to vote for the opposition because Cosatu will raise the things they complain about and in a pro-poor way. Reducing Cosatu to a labour desk will therefore open space for the opposition and has long-term consequences for the ruling party.

It is better to have a troublesome child within the family than an outsider because no matter what he or she says or does, once an outsider joins in he or she defends the family wrongs and closes ranks. With the youth league officially silenced, Cosatu divided, an SACP too deeply embedded in the ANC, who will become the conscious of the once mighty revolution?

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  • The weakness of the ANC
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    • Rox

      Good assesment

    • Momma Cyndi

      Smoke and mirrors or good cop / bad cop.

      Cosatu shouts about what people want them to shout about then urge everyone to vote ANC. The ANC does their own thing and knows that it is irrelevant what they do because Cosatu will still bring them the votes – regardless.

      The reality is that they are working both sides of the fence. ANC has to make noises about how Cosatu is rocking the boat and Cosatu has to shout at the ANC. Without that, the smoke and mirrors doesn’t work and the audience (aka, voters) don’t applaud (aka vote)

    • bernpm

      Intetresting article wit a very optimistic and one sided view on the ruling party.

      “The ANC, on the other hand, feels that they are being blamed for everything under he sun….”

      And they should be blamed because they are the ruling party and ultimately responsible for the good and the bad they produce.

      The fact that they are screaming and shouting, running to court and using other lower level tricks measn that the ANC is panicking for the things to come.

      The DA could well be happy with some competition from Cosatu if they can build enough credibility outside the ANC. Time will tell.

    • Cam Cameron

      Cosatu occupies the loony-left. DA occupies the centre.

    • Paul Whelan

      ‘Opposition’ in a democracy means far more than ‘raising issues’ with government: it means there is an electable party in place to offer a different government with different policy solutions. Cosatu is a trades union federation, not a political party. It cannot form a different government. It is struggling for control of the ruling party, not offering an alternative to it.

    • Derek

      I’m beginning to think that this perennial rumbling of Cosatu is just a ruse. There are always these very public disagreements within the alliance, with Cosatu siding with “the people” on issues that are adversely affecting them – but, come election time, they simply sweep everything under the carpet and go back into the alliance fold. This gives the unhappy populace the misguided impression that Cosatu is actually looking out for them (as you state). Nothing could be further from the truth.

      Cosatu are just cANCer lackeys – they know on which side their bread is buttered.

    • Kabelo #

      This analysis remains relevant and on point…just until this so-called “marriage” experiences a hostile divorce!

    • Kabelo #

      And anyway, Cosatu then becomes “Rent-A-Clown” that keeps people excited and their eyes off the ball untill election time, since it is what matters most. After all, it’s not like Vavi will one day wake up contesting for State Presidency, need I say he still needs an ANC Endorsement. The less he could become is an NEC and MP like other tamed lapdogs; Motlanthe, Dlamini, Mantashe, Nzimande and most recently Carrim, the list is endless. Until we witness a divorce here, Cosatu remains a Chiwawa with no teeth, and as Paul Whelan mentioned, provides no alternative for the masses. Zilch!

    • Ndumiso

      U will only realise the whole shenanigans of the ANC/COSATU fighting cliques once you independently develop your own “objective” analysis coupled with a scientific approach of the labour/working class struggle. U will be quite different from this after that. By look of things your analysis are obscured by your “love” of Mantashe and the Liberation Movement, subsequently u couldn’t notice the “permanent” working class struggle which is inevitably the one that will bring about a revolution.

    • Stephen

      So, how can you “choose an uneducated man to the highest office”? You don’t explain. And “better to have a troublesome child within the family than an outsider because no matter what he or she says or does, once an outsider joins in he or she defends the family wrongs and closes ranks.” Uh no. Not really.

    • Call for Honesty

      Strange that Cosatu leaders have never contested a public election in South Africa?

      Surely this is the goal of every political party – to contest, defeat opponents and having gained power to implement new (and hopefully better) policies. Manqoba Nxumalo does not seem to understand democracy, like most people in South Africa.

      Democracy means voters using their combined votes to unseat incompetent, corrupt and dishonest politicians. However, when 90% of voters are ignorant and naive, they simply believe the lies of their favourite politicians without looking at their real performance. This is why democracy (which is at best a flawed system – though better than the alternatives – and at worst a disaster – and no different from them) has failed in so many countries especially in Africa.

    • DA needer

      With an ‘oppositionist’ Cosatu, who needs a DA?

      South Africa
      The poor
      The needy
      The unemployed
      Everyone who want to be proud of our Rainbow Nation (remember Soccer World Cup)
      Those who believe in an open opportunity society
      Honourable civil servants like Pikoli and Madonsela
      KIds who lost a year because of textbook shedding
      Anyone who pisses of the Luthuli House mafiosa (J Malema, Vavi)
      Those who favour redress, reconciliation, diversity and delivery
      The parents who bus their kids from township schools to the suburbs
      Minorities – whether racial minorities, sexual minorities or any other
      Anyone who needs the Rule of Law [that’s all of us]
      Those disgusted at the wholesale looting of the country by people elected to reform it.

    • The Creator

      The problem with this analysis is that it assumes that the leadership of the ANC care about the party. In fact they only care about their own positions in the immediate future. That’s why they have been systematically destroying all opposition within the Tripartite Alliance, including, of course, COSATU. Mostly COSATU’s response is to lie down and play dead.

      The answer to the question posed in the title, of course, is the rich, the greedy and the racist. Anybody else who supports the DA is a numbskull. Fortunately, there is no shortage of numbskulled voters in the white community, just as there is no shortage of black numbskulls eagerly voting for Zuma.