In the decade that I led a strong and united COSATU, I never dreamt that its unity would ever be a problem.
However, things in COSATU have gone pear shaped. A court has had to order the present leaders to convene the Congress that is now taking place. In addition, COSATU has to rely on hiring security to keep order and to deny admission to certain worker delegates.
To see COSATU divided down the middle is very painful for me to digest.
It is tragic that Sdumo Dlamini now admits that it was wrong of COSATU to endorse President Jacob Zuma as ANC president at the Polokwane conference. Even so, the federation is still remains wedded to ruling party politics than to worker interests.
Only circus performers can ride two horses by standing astride each. Worker unions cannot do that. They have to serve labour interests with undivided attention. Job shedding, through wide scale retrenchments in a declining economy has hurt worker confidence. Workers are right to feel that they have been abandoned on the shop floor.
COSATU fatally allowed President Zuma to have the federation in his pocket. No wonder so many unions rebelled. Many workers tired of neglect and politicking broke away from unions federated to COSATU to form new worker unions. Breaching the COSATU constitution to convene the central committee in 2009 to lend open support to Zuma sowed the seeds of division.
COSATU has to unify worker unions. It must cancel the expulsion of NUMSA and reinstate Vavi. Otherwise the cracks will widen and COSATU will be a shadow of its former self.
It is clear that COSATU must seek to be a worker body first and foremost and concentrate on worker issues leaving politics to others.
Issued by William Madisha, Willie Madisha is Former COSATU President and Deputy President of Cope