Cosatu Says Alliance `Dysfunctional;' ANC May Struggle for Votes From Poor
South Africa’s ruling alliance is “dysfunctional” and risks losing the support of voters, a leader of the country’s biggest labor grouping said as a strike by state workers entered its ninth day.
The African National Congress has ruled Africa’s largest economy since all-race elections in 1994 in alliance with the South African Congress of Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party. The strike by teachers and nurses has strained relations in the alliance already weakened by allegations of corruption and disputes over economic policy.
Members of the alliance were unable to convene a summit, “for fear of an implosion,” Cosatu General-Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi told reporters in Johannesburg today. While the federation’s executive committee reaffirmed support for the ANC in 2011 local government elections, it acknowledged that there “will be major problems in some poorer communities to convince voters to stay with the ANC,” he said.
The ANC won 66 percent of the vote in the last national elections in 2009.
Cosatu won’t give the ANC a “blank check” and will refuse to campaign or support “candidates that are known to be corrupt or lazy,” Vavi said.
“If we, as the broad liberation movement, don’t act decisively, we are heading rapidly in the direction of a full- blown predator state, in which a powerful, corrupt and demagogic elite of political hyenas increasingly controls the state as a vehicle for accumulation,” Vavi said.
Unions representing state workers began an indefinite strike on Aug. 18 after the government rejected their demands for an 8.6 percent wage increase and a 1,000-rand ($136) housing allowance. Cosatu’s affiliate unions began serving notices on employees that they will stage sympathy strikes next week, Vavi said.
The government says wages already account for 32 percent of its 850 billion rand annual budget and that it can’t afford to increase its offer of a 7 percent raise and a 700-rand housing allowance. South Africa’s inflation rate was 3.7 percent last month.
More than 10,000 state workers marched to Parliament in Cape Town today to place pressure on the government to accede to their demands. Protests were also held in several other cities.