The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has issued a communique stating that the country’s president Jacob Zuma will no longer be welcome to address its initiatives.
Cosatu secretary-general Bheki Ntshalintshali said the decision was taken during a meeting on Tuesday and that they will officially communicate this to the African National Coalition, including implications for the alliance.
“We have agreed with the position of workers that allowing Zuma to address the May Day rally was not consistent with our position that we no longer trusted and supported Zuma’s leadership,” said Mr Ntshalintshali.
Earlier this month President Zuma was booed at a Cosatu May Day rally in Bloemfontein forcing him to cut short his speech. The union members were calling for his resignation following recent cabinet purge and his decision to sack his widely respected finance minister.
Three Cosatu affiliates had sent a request a week before the rally to barre Zuma from addressing members of the union on Labour day.
The South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU), the National Health Education and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) sent letters to Cosatu’s national office bearers a week before the May Day celebrations, protesting President Zuma’s invitation.
Frustrations with a sinking economy, corruption scandals and intimidation of the party’s critics fueled the shouts of “Zuma must go” and “Zuma must fall” even from the Congress of South African Trade Unions – once a formal alliance partner of the ruling ANC party.
Among those protesting against Zuma are members of several opposition parties, many civil-society groups, trade unions, business executives, the ruling party’s alliance partners in the Communist Party, former President Mandela’s granddaughter Ndileka, and even the 85-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner, retired archbishop Desmond Tutu, who is in frail health.