PLANNING: Cosatu acting general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali says shutting down Kopano ke Matla is a political decision, but that it will help the federation overcome its financial difficulties. Picture: THE TIMES
Cosatu acting general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali. Picture: THE TIMES

THE Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said on Tuesday it was not prepared to take a public stance on the leadership succession question within the ANC.

At this stage such a stance would only serve to fracture the federation and cause divisions in the tripartite alliance, it said.

Affiliates of the federation were at varying stages of internal discussions on the issue, but Cosatu had resolved to "be more aggressive, when putting the demands of the workers and the working class (forward) at an appropriate time," secretary-general Bheki Ntshalintshali said during a briefing in Johannesburg.

Cosatu held a one-day special central executive committee meeting on Monday at which it had been expected to give further clarity on its stance on the ANC succession issue, which is bubbling to the surface following a loss of support for the ruling party during the August 3 local government polls.

Large Cosatu affiliates, including the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), have been pushing for the federation to keep to ANC precedent, whereby Deputy President Cyril Ramaphaosa would be endorsed to take over the Presidency.

Affiliates pushed for this to be taken as a resolution during the federation’s national congress in 2015, however the matter was deferred.

Affiliates would now continue discussions on succession based on various criteria, among them a background in the working class movement, Ntshalintshali said.

"The workers should not only be looking at the position of the president but at the leadership collective that will act as the centre and also be guided by the resolutions of the ANC‚" he said.

Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini on Tuesday dismissed questions on whether the stance of Cosatu represented a distancing of the federation from Ramaphosa, with the federation further dismissing that its stance was based on current internal weaknesses.

"This debate must first and foremost not divide Cosatu, this debate must assist Cosatu to unite the ANC or its leadership," Dlamini said.