Angry Cosatu delegates revolted openly and blocked ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe from addressing them on behalf of the ruling party during the first day of the trade union federation’s 14th congress.
The delegates were angry that instead of being addressed by President Cyril Ramaphosa as per tradition, the ANC deployed Mantashe, a former general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers.
The workers sang hamba Gwede, asinamali (Go Gwede, we don’t have the money) in protest against being addressed by the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources.
Mantashe was forced to abandon his speech and leave the stage at the Gallagher Estate in Midrand, outside Johannesburg.
Ramaphosa was leading the 86th commemorative birthday of the late struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. But the workers would have none of it.
One worker told Sunday World that the ANC is not taking the workers seriously.
“The president is supposed to be here to address us. He is seeking a second term from the workers. We are battered by loadsheeding. His government is only prepared to give us a salary increase of 3%. This is not right. We are very angry,” he said.
Another delegate said the conduct of the ANC will result in workers not voting for the governing party during the 2024 provincial and national elections. “Workers are crying. We are in a difficult space,” she said.
Some members of Cosatu wanted the whole delegation of the ANC to leave the venue. The delegation Mmamoloko Kubayi, Lindiwe Zulu and Sdumo Dlamini, the former president of Cosatu, all members of the national executive committee (NEC).
One NEC member told Sunday World: “During the KwaZulu-Natal conference, the same thing happened, one minute the president was coming and the next he wasn’t.”
The NEC member added: “The president must just bite the bullet.”
Sunday World reported at the weekend that fear has gripped Ramaphosa’s inner circle and that a hostile reception and backlash against his administration at Cosatu’s congress could have a negative impact on his bid for second term.
Reliable sources have told Sunday World that some leaders around the president are courting union leaders behind the scenes to ensure that Ramaphosa is not embarrassed by the workers the same way he was on May Day.