INITIAL election results were released on Thursday morning‚ showing the African National Congress (ANC) headed for yet another win‚ but as leaders in the ANC-led alliance cast their ballots on Wednesday‚ some gave veiled warnings to the governing party‚ saying their support came with strings attached.
The ANC lost unqualified support from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) in the run up to the elections on Wednesday‚ with Cosatu’s largest member‚ the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa‚ refusing to — as was usual — tell its members to vote for the ruling party.
While Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe expressed optimism for the next five years in South Africa‚ Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi said a change in government approach to labour and the economy was imperative if workers’ lives were to be improved.
After voting in Morningside‚ Johannesburg‚ Mr Vavi said: “Workers can count gains which have been accomplished during democracy‚ but when you look at progress economically‚ there is reason to be extremely worried. If workers are to benefit from democracy‚ then we cannot allow things to continue as they have.”
“I am voting with the hope that a workers’ decade will be under way in the next administration which will improve the lives of those who make up the workforce‚” he said.
Mr Vavi is just one of a number of prominent tripartite alliance figures who have fallen out of favour in the alliance‚ and in the eyes of the ANC’s national executive committee.
Mr Vavi‚ who returned to his post at Cosatu shortly before the elections after being suspended over an affair he had with a junior colleague‚ has gone from supporting President Jacob Zuma in his rise to leadership of the ANC up to 2007‚ to becoming a vocal critic of Mr Zuma’s administration. Before his suspension Mr Vavi was outspoken in his opposition to e-tolling on Gauteng’s freeways and the National Development Plan‚ which the ANC endorsed at its 2012 national conference in Mangaung.
After returning to work at Cosatu‚ Mr Vavi found himself obliged to campaign for the ANC‚ the party whose contentious policies and programmes he opposed.
Mr Motlanthe on Wednesday cast what appeared to be his final vote as a government member. He was defeated by Mr Zuma at the 2012 Mangaung conference and does not appear on the ANC’s list of candidates to represent the party at National Assembly.
Mr Motlanthe said he had high hopes for South Africa’s future under the next government administration.
“I’m optimistic that we will get to a point where our country will be governed efficiently with accountability and transparency. That is what the constitution enjoins us to do‚” Mr Motlanthe said.
Mr Motlanthe said he was fulfilled by the work he did as deputy president in the executive council and Parliament as well as his work in the South African National Aids Council and the Human Resource Development Council. – Khulekani Magubane