The current stand-off between the ANC/SACP and their Alliance partner COSATU is riddled with contradictions. The ANC and SACP leadership who sit in the cabinet are embarrassed by COSATU’s projection of the executive as pursuing policies which are an antithesis of the liberation program which sought to advance workers’ causes and alleviate poverty. In their desperation, the President and his cohorts castigate the COSATU leadership and accuse it of lying and joining forces with the enemies of the liberation movement.

It is a strange logic that equates a call for the re-evaluation of GEAR and privatization, which have created mass unemployment with right wing tendencies. One wonders who the President had in mind as the new-found strategic ally of COSATU when he made this comparison. The President would like the working population represented by COSATU to believe that GEAR and privatization are the panacea for their social ills. How this will come about is a complex riddle in the light of a recent history of retrenchments and a sluggish economic growth that has generated more unemployment.

COSATU, however elicits little sympathy from astute political analysts. Their role as governing partners in the Alliance is irreconcilable with their social role as a federation of workers whose primary task is to champion workers interests which are severely threatened by the GEAR and privatization policies which are the flag-ship of the government in which they sit as partners.

We find it extremely entertaining when one of the Ministers accuses COSATU leadership of hypocrisy because (they allege) COSATU have bought shares in some of the privatized enterprises. This conflict has degenerated to a name-calling and mud-sling match between the two Alliance partners or their respective leaders. The reality is that this contradiction in the roles that COSATU has placed herself will continue to sharpen in response to the growing untenability of neo-liberal economic policies is a country that in emerging from centuries of colonialism and decades of institutional racism, which have created two disparate nations divided by a vast chasm.

It is therefore difficult to lend credibility to COSATU’s stance since they are participants in the privatization gimmick and some of them readily join the ranks of legislators and beneficiaries of the gravy train.

We need a labour movement that is unambiguously committed to the cause of job creation and protection of worker’s interests within an economic policy framework that narrows the economic divide rather than widening it as GEAR does. Such a labour movement should be independent enough to honestly represent the interests of the marginalized workers and remove the confusion created by an ambivalent Tripartite Alliance ruling click who preach elimination of unemployment in the streets and legislate retrenchments and greater unemployment in Parliament.

 South Africans can no longer tolerate the ANC, SACP and COSATU Alliance political massage and collective posturing by them, while the country’s economy is sliding. The leadership of the Alliance has misled workers and the citizens of this country by shouting such slogans as “VIVA SOCIALISM” in their weekend rallies while on Mondays they are busy listing companies in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange Securities.

 South Africans today are aware that the firebrands of yester-year have reneged on the struggle day’s promises to redistribute the national resources for the benefit of the disadvantaged. Instead they have strategically positioned themselves in bogus workers empowerment projects, for their own benefit, without issuing even share certificates, let alone dividends to the workers they purport to empower. The former champions of worker’s rights are now exploiting their traditional relationship with the workers to enrich themselves. The erstwhile communists have abandoned their social programme and boarded the gravy train.

Bantu Holomisa, MP
UDM President
082 552 4156

27 August 2001