June 25, 2018


Tripartite Alliance moots harmony indaba

Alliance leaders unfazed ... President Jacob Zuma flanked by, from left, Cosatu President Sdumo Dhlamini, SACP Secretary General Blade Dzimande and Free State Premier Ace Magashule at a Workers’ Day rally in Bloemfontein on Monday

Alliance leaders unfazed … President Jacob Zuma flanked by, from left, Cosatu President Sdumo Dhlamini, SACP Secretary General Blade Dzimande and Free State Premier Ace Magashule at a Workers’ Day rally in Bloemfontein on Monday

Partners mull an urgent meeting to iron out differences afflicting and threating the alliance and hope to emerge a stronger and more coherent unit. . .

The premeditated ambush on President Jacob Zuma and other senior leaders who were scheduled to give speeches at a May Day rally in Bloemfontein on Monday has raised the need for serious engagement among the Tripartite Alliance members.

Sources said Zuma trekked to Bloemfontein for the workers’ commemoration despite a presidential intelligence report predicting that some members of the Cosatu affiliates would disrupt the event and embarrass the leaders.

The sources noted that after extensive consultations amongst the ruling ANC Top 6 officials, it was decided that Zuma should proceed with the journey to Loch Logan Park as it would not augur well for him as party leader to miss his traditional address on May Day.

And true to the presidential intelligence report, the prediction came to pass as some rowdy Cosatu members disrupted the function before Zuma and other leaders could address the rally.
Calls for emergency meeting
The Tripartite Alliance partners have since called for an emergency meeting to harmonise relations, with ANC Free State chairperson and provincial premier Ace Magashule saying the mooted engagement should see the alliance resolving their issues behind closed doors rather than behaving like ‘actors’ and running to the media with their dirty linen at the slightest opportunity.

Without mincing words, Magashule noted that he had been reliably informed that the May Day in Bloemfontein incident points to people having been bussed in from the Northern Cape town of Kimberly with the sole purpose of disrupting speeches by Zuma and other leaders.

The premier also noted he was of this conviction because the ANC’s relations with unions in the Free State were healthy and based on mutual respect.

He said SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande had also summarised that the relations in the alliance were at their lowest “and I think that’s why we need to wake up and forget about ourselves as individuals.”

Magashule pointed out, “We should think about the future of the country and think about the alliance itself because this is historical. The alliance is really the umbilical cord that brings us together.”

The premier said the ANC would emerge from the May Day chaos even stronger. “I am not that worried. I know that we will work hard because there are many women and men in the structures of the ANC.”

He recalled that the ill-discipline and foreign tendencies that have creeped into the organisation did not start this year or last year, but way back in 2006-2007 and unfortunately the party didn’t actually nip this in the bud.

“We were supposed to have done so long ago in terms of disciplining people. But however, we are up to the challenge,” he said.

On relations with Cosatu
“We must go back to our politics. These are the contradictions that will make us stronger. Things will be fine. What’s needed is the unity of our movement, the unity of our people, the unity of South Africa as a whole. I don’t want to talk about the “ifs” because I don’t believe in those things.

At the right time, I think we will be able to make the necessary decisions and take the necessary action,” Magashule noted.

He also cautioned that contestation would never bring factional battles, saying, “We can’t run the ANC as if it has never happened. It happened even during Mandela’s time where some youth leaders were removed at conferences. So we are just saying there is no need to fight one another as leaders or as members of the ANC. As ANC chairpersons, we are going to engage. These are bumpy times but we still need to play our roles in our different provinces and bring unity.”

Nomination for SG position
On whether he would accept nomination for the position of ANC secretary general, Magashule said the process has not yet started and the branches have not yet spoken.

“I cannot say I will accept or not. I am not ambitious. When the time comes, I will do anything that the branches want me to do,’ he pointed out.

Generational mix
The premier noted that his view is that the ruling party needs to have a mix of both the youths and senior cadres. “We need a generational mix in order to groom the younger generation for the future. However, let’s wait for that time but that’s what I want to see. “

SACP calls for unity
SACP secretary for Gauteng province Jacob Mamabolo says one profound point to come out of the May Day chaos in Bloemfontein was the need for the alliance to unite and deal with issues at the centre of workers’ day rallies.

He noted that there was demonstrated need for internal conversations within the alliance structures to seek ways of iron out any differences in the union.

Time to iron out any differences
The Tripartite Alliance leaders believe it is time to regroup and iron out the tensions currently plaguing it and emerge a stronger and more coherent unit.

The partnership also contends the heckling of its leaders does not mean the bloc is divided but is rather a reflection of healthy internal democracy.

The leaders maintain the incident at Loch Logan Park was a wake-up call for the Alliance not rest on its laurels but engage its grassroots base and also not to fight in public.

South African Communist Party leader Blade Nzimande on Monday described the collapse of the Workers’ Day as the final “wake-up call” for the tripartite alliance.

“I think it’s sad, it’s really sad. I think we should really see this as the ultimate wake-up call because in essence if we don’t arrest this we will be judged very harshly as the generation of leaders who allowed the alliance to collapse….but we are still going to go back and discuss this matter properly…,” said Nzimande.

Democracy at work, says Zuma
Commenting after the May Day disruption, an unfazed and battle hardened President Zuma said that democracy gives people the right to express themselves.

“That is how democracy works. It gives people the right to debate and express themselves democratically,” he said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Durban on Wednesday.

He also stressed that freedom of expression is enshrined in the constitution and when people express themselves they are actually exercising their right.

“Presidents of the world where there is democracy get ridiculed by opponents wanting them to relinquish power each day and what happened in Bloemfontein on Monday is no different,” he added.

“People misread it, if I were you (press) I would write volumes of articles on how South Africa’s democracy has matured since 1994, because if we were not a democracy there would be no hackling, howling and booing,” quipped Zuma.

Meeting long overdue: Kodwa
ANC national spokesman Zizi Kodwa yesterday said the proposed emergency meeting of the Alliance partners was in fact long overdue.

“We are already in talks with our alliance partners to make sure we speed up the meeting that we had aimed to have since last month,” he said.

“Soon we shall meet and discuss all the issues that have led to the incidents of heckling including what happened in Bloemfontein where President Zuma was in attendance,” Kodwa told The Weekly.

Cosatu looking forward
Cosatu national spokesman Sizwe Pamla said the labour federation was looking forward to engaging with the ANC in a meeting soon to resolve differences with its alliance partners.

Speaking in an interview with The Weekly yesterday, Pamla indicated that Cosatu itself is expected to convene a special central committee meeting to deal with the events that led to it cancelling all the speeches at its main May Day rally.

In a statement on Wednesday, the union said it shall be convening an urgent special central committee meeting to deal with what happened and also decide on a way forward in preparation for the upcoming central committee meeting.

Alliance still strategically relevant
Meanwhile, SACP national spokesman Alex Masilonyana said his organisation is committed to having a meeting soon to resolve underlying issues behind the mocking of the Alliance leaders.

Masilonyana noted the party will first have to carry out an assessment of what transpired not only in Bloemfontein but also in Ekurhuleni where the first deputy of the SACP, Solly Maphaila, was booed.

“We are committed to the alliance with the ANC and Cosatu, hence since 1994 we took a conscious decision not to divide our vote by contesting elections separately. The meeting we envisage with our alliance partners must take a holistic view of what has been happening and not focus on one incident only,” he said.

Masilonyana also reaffirmed the SACP’s belief that the tripartite alliance was still strategically relevant to advancing the national democratic revolution.

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