01/12/2017 12:21 SAST | Updated 01/12/2017 12:21 SAST

SACP 'Hasty' Regarding Metsimaholo By-Elections – Cosatu

The SACP, in a historic move, contested the by-elections in the municipality's 21 wards on November 29.

Kevin Coombs / Reuters

Trade union federation Cosatu has accused the SACP of "moving ahead of the workers" with its decision to go it alone in this week's by-elections in Metsimaholo, Free State.

The SACP, in a historic move, contested the by-elections in the municipality's 21 wards on November 29. However, it didn't have the Cosatu support behind it –– a resolution by the federation dictates that its unions and members campaign and vote only for the ANC during elections.

Cosatu's deputy general secretary, Solly Phetoe, explained to journalists at a media briefing following the federation's central executive committee (CEC) meeting why it couldn't support the SACP.

"We have a resolution coming from the 12th national congress of Cosatu to support the ANC during the elections," he said.

The decision could only be reviewed by the next congress, he added, which is scheduled for September 2018.

Expanding on the federation's views, Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini told News24 that Cosatu sees the SACP as the vanguard that must always represent the working class.

"Otherwise you plunge the SACP into a quagmire of moving ahead of everybody and failing on the expectations of the working class," said Dlamini.

Members' dilemma

Results for the hotly-contested polls have yet to be officially released by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). As Huffington Post reported previously, the IEC is still investigating vote-rigging claims brought by the SACP against its alliance partner, the ANC.

Dlamini said the SACP presented its own congress outcomes on popular and state power, along with the communist party's view on contesting elections, to the CEC this week.

"We said, 'Allow us as Cosatu to engage on what you are saying'," Dlamini said –– insisting, however, that the federation's congress decision to support the ANC in every local, provincial and national election stood.

Dlamini said Cosatu understood and respected the SACP's decision, but that in the journey it had chosen to undertake, it needed to make sure that it remained in touch with the workers, so that the communist party doesn't end up at odds with the working class.

He told News24 that the CEC told the SACP it had made the decision to contest the by-elections "hastily".

"In this context, you had Cosatu workers in that space who have issues –– issues with the ANC –– who also know Cosatu's decision on the ANC," said Dlamini.

"You are putting them into a bit of a dilemma –– are they going to be behaving like they are ill-disciplined in Cosatu by ignoring the congress resolution, or are they ill-disciplined as members of the SACP by ignoring the congress position of the communist party?" he asked.