The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) notes the article published on Eyewitness News (EWN) concerning the future of the COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions) President-Comrade Zigiswa Losi-, on one hand, and the status of the union, on the other.
The article suggests that the future of the COSATU President hangs in the balance as she might not be eligible to contest for another term at the Federation’s National Congress in September 2022. This perspective emanates from the narrative that Comrade Losi shifted her constituency from POPCRU (Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union) to SATAWU. The status of SATAWU (a union not in good standing), as opposed to her change in employment from the South African Police Services (SAPS) to the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA), is perceived to weigh on her like a nightmare.
The preceding synopsis has prompted the union to demystify grey areas of the article in question to avert confusion and/or to draw the organisation into factionalist leadership battles that do not concern it at this interval in time. Firstly, Comrade Losi remains the President of COSATU therefore, the structures of the Federation are not only guided but are empowered by its Constitution to deliberate and resolve on her future as a National Office Bearer (NOB).
Secondly, although the COSATU Constitution is silent on the shift in constituencies, it does not suggest that existing and/or aspiring NOBs automatically qualify to contest future leadership positions. The President’s shift in constituency requires SATAWU structures to endorse and/or nominate her as a potential candidate to contest a certain leadership position in the upcoming September 2022 National Congress. It is only at the level of the COSATU National Congress that affiliates will lobby for their mandated position and equally allow to be lobbied by others. Provided that there is an impasse and/or contestation between preferred candidates, the voting process will then be effected to break the deadlock. Thirdly, the future of President Losi will not be determined by the status of SATAWU with the Federation but by the elections process and preferences of the rank and file at the September National Congress.
Lastly, on 08 June 2022, a letter was written to the Federation with reference: Update on SATAWU Payment towards Arrears and Current Membership. The correspondence highlighted that the union had paid its arrears as per the 2021 COSATU Central Executive Committee (CEC) resolution. Furthermore, it requested for the COSATU NOBs to uplift and/or change the union’s status from not in good standing to a union in good standing. According to our knowledge, the union is in good standing as per the payment arrangement endorsed by the COSATU CEC.
With this said, the notion that President Losi’s future hangs in the balance owing to SATAWU’s status is thus fictitious and detached from material reality. It is important to clarify that participatory democracy as opposed to union status determines the character of the labour movement and the nature of leaders required to implement a set of resolutions during their term of office.
The union finds it unfortunate that the leadership question suggests that the Federation finds itself at an “interregnum [with] a great variety of morbid symptoms”. This perspective further proposes that COSATU is in crisis because the “…old is dying and the new cannot be born…”. Advancing factional battles through various media platforms demonstrate that class analysis and/or working-class theory rather than COSATU is in crisis. The labour movement, in general, finds itself in a state of flux. The objective at hand is to unite the working class behind a shared vision, values and objectives instead of individual and/or factional aspirations.
As an organisation that understands the theoretical and practical advice that “historical facts and personages occur… the first time as tragedy, the second as farce” requires that the labour movement learn from its past mistakes rather than reproduce them. The socialisation of internal crisis is therefore to the detriment of the working class. The leadership question at this stage in development is premature owing to the social and economic uncertainties and crises that plague the working class stratum. Poverty, unemployment, inequalities, exploitation, industrial restructuring and other vices that perpetuate oppression and class antagonisms will never be resolved by factions of self-interest.
No socio-economic change will be realised as a consequence of a self-created crisis and it is from this perspective that SATAWU distances itself from premature leadership debates when there are bigger working-class challenges to contend with. When the time is right the rank and file will decide on their preferred NOBs at the COSATU September 2022 National Congress. Moreover, the upcoming June 2022 COSATU Special CEC will provide much-needed clarity on the fate of the labour movement instead of democratically elected NOBs. The NOBs in question will not only relinquish their positions but stand the chance of re-election at the aforementioned National Congress in September 2022.
Issued by: South African Transport & Allied Workers Union
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