THE African National Congress-led alliance will face an uphill battle in the 2014 elections unless it stems the tide of internal division and strife, Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) deputy general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said on Friday.
Cosatu heads to an elective congress next month and its ally, the ANC, will also vote in new leadership in Mangaung in December. There are already signs of tension in both organisations over leadership, with the battle for the top spot in the ANC seeping into the federation and causing division within its ranks.
Mr Ntshalintshali said the 2014 poll - exactly 20 years after democracy - would be a "steep and high" mountain to climb if the fight over positions continued, if party members "continued shouting slogans during the day and counting profits during the night from tenders" and if members continued to "kill one another" and attack each other's characters.
"Our members and people in general cannot be expected to remain patient when they die of hunger due to poverty while some individuals die from overeating," he said.
The "misunderstanding" between Cosatu and the South African Communist Party (SACP) had also opened up both organisations to its "class enemies", he said, pointing to perceived differences over the stance of the two organisations on the nationalisation of mines.
Cosatu supports nationalisation, while the SACP has said that nationalisation is not inherently progressive and cautioned against nationalising debt incurred by some mines.
"Some of us, throughout our lives, have imagines the day in which the strategic centres of the economy will be in the hands of the masses. We want the SACP and the ANC to tell us not whether this will happen, but when it will happen," Mr Ntshalintshali said.
He cautioned Cosatu leaders that their positions were not a "given". Leaders therefore bore the responsibility to "elaborate" on the theoretical basis and the understanding of the organisation's political orientation.
"If we do not, we would continue to clash with our class friends and our allies ... we must remain calm but vigilant and never allow provocation to distract us because some individuals are born critics and at times suffer from complete misguided militancy," he said.
Mr Ntshalintshali was speaking at Cosatu in Gauteng's elective congress at the Standard Bank Arena. Resolutions made at the three-day event will be discussed further at Cosatu's national congress in September.
There has been talk of a challenge to Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi at the upcoming gathering, and those opposing him have been testing the waters at provincial gatherings. In Gauteng, however - where the current leadership is seen to be aligned to Mr Vavi - attempts at a challenge were quashed by large affiliates such as the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa. It is understood that Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union provincial secretary Matsemela Matsemela had done an about-turn after an initial attempt to challenge current Gauteng secretary Dumisani Dakile.
The current leadership was nominated unopposed at the congress. Chairman Putas Tseki and Mr Dakile would retain their positions. Macy Sekaledi was nominated to replace outgoing deputy chairman Scelo Gcabashe, who is not standing for re-election, and Pulane Mokgotsi was nominated for the position of treasurer.
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