December 4, 2003

Cosatu and ANC prepare for elections / "Alliance no obstacle to unity"

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) made known that its relationship with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) should not be an obstacle to its ideal of uniting workers under a single federation within the next three years. Cosatu vice-president Joe Nkosi stated that the federation's political affiliation was a secondary matter, and that "the primary was building worker unity". However, it seems to be a big challenge to persuade the three main trade union federations to get together, as they have insisted over the years that a merger would only be possible if Cosatu severed its political ties with the ANC and the South African Communist Party. Speaking at Cosatu's 18th anniversary celebration, Deputy President Jacob Zuma said Cosatu and the ANC were "inseparable".

In what could be interpreted as a direct reference to the Inkatha Freedom Party and the Democratic Alliance, Zuma furthermore said that "they are now forming alliances so that they don't fade into nothingness". The two parties recently formed an alliance in KwaZulu-Natal in a bid to prevent the ruling party from taking over the province.

In the meantime, important pointers on the personalities likely to lead SA for the next five years have been revealed in the provisional lists of African National Congress (ANC) parliamentary candidates for next year. Besides, the lists also show who will not be around any longer: environmental Affairs Minister Valli Moosa and Justice Minister Penuell Maduna have voluntarily bowed out. Moosa is leaving to pursue other interests, possibly on the international stage or in the private sector. Maduna is the highest level casualty to date of the battle between Deputy President Jacob Zuma and prosecutions chief Bulelani Ngcuka.

Former ANC Women's League president Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and former chief whip Tony Yengeni do not appear either, arguably in line with the selection criteria that forbid the nomination of anyone with a criminal record. Besides, the key political leaders remain the top five nominations are the same as from 1999. President Thabo Mbeki, Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Education Minister Kader Asmal and Finance Minister Trevor Manuel all retain their previous positions on the list, and in that order. Although the list is provisional, it is said to be unlikely that senior ANC members will pull out at the last minute. (Business Day, Johannesburg)


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