To have Zuma or not to have Zuma: that was the question conflicted Congress of South African Trade Union (Cosatu) delegates faced on Monday.
The federation seems split down the middle on whether to stick to their decision of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma, or invite him to speak at their central committee meeting next week.
This was one of the main points of discussion during a special central executive committee (CEC) meeting on Monday.
Speaking to the media ahead of the sitting, Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said there were two issues on the agenda on Monday: finalising the upcoming central committee meeting next Monday and discussing the federation's previous decision that Zuma must step down.
"This will include the voices that came through on the May Day rally, particularly in Bloemfontein where workers were raising the issues in terms of the application of our decisions ...We want to refine the decision so we have a common understanding," Ntshalintshali said.
He said the federation previously took three decisions:
- that Zuma, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, South African National Civic Organisation president Richard Mdakane and Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini would address the crowd in Bloemfontein during a Workers' Day rally;
- that the federation's central committee meeting be addressed by Zuma on the first day; and
- that the federation has no confidence in Zuma.
"So all those decisions were taken by the CEC and people have been raising issues, whether we have a common understanding on the implications of the conflicting decisions...We want to find a common ground among the CEC delegates and the union on how we manage those decisions,"Ntshalintshali said.
But Zuma has yet to be invited to the event.
"We have no invited the President...that is what CEC will have to clarify. Is it appropriate to have no confidence in a person but invite them to speak?"
Ntshalintshali commented briefly on the his president, Sdumo Dlamini, denying there is an intention to have him removed.
Dlamini attended Zuma's recent birthday bash despite the federation's call for the president to step down. This sparked a debate over Dlamini's alliances.
"Many unions have come out and said there is no intention of removing the president of Cosatu [Dlamini]. None of the unions have taken the decision. It must be a speculation. None of the Cosatu unions have indicated it," Ntshalintshali said.
Cosatu would on Tuesday brief the media on the outcomes of today's meeting.