Cosatu II

Mal Morrow enunciates what I presume will become the new conventional wisdom on Cosatu and the ANC: they’ve both decided to ditch the alliance, but neither of them wants to be seen as the one that finally pulled the plug. So instead, they’re each going to send in their most bellicose spokesman and try to irritate the other one into being the first to quit.

I think that analysis is probably correct, but here’s another one, just for good measure: what if all of this is to do with the Shabir Shaik trial?

Under normal circumstances, the ANC has a very orderly leadership process. We knew long in advance that Mbeki was going to replace Mandela as president. We knew that Zuma was going to replace Mbeki as deputy-president and, until recently, it seemed certain that Zuma would replace him as president too. But the Shabir Shaik trial has changed all that. My impression is that within the ANC, everyone can smell Zuma’s blood. So, for the first time since 1994, there is no obvious successor. And that means we could be in for an old school, Tory Party-style leadership battle. Should be fun.

Now, what if Cosatu’s recent remarks were the opening salvo in such a leadership struggle? Conservatives in the ANC may want to nominate Trevor Manuel, and of course, Cyril Ramaphosa desperately wants the job for himself – he’s been gunning for it ever since he got passed over 1994. I’m guessing that Cosatu would consider either candidate objectionable, and might threaten to stage a walkout if one of them was nominated. What if Cosatu is trying to build up a credible threat of walking out now, so they can make that threat for real when the time comes? I don’t know who Cosatu would prefer for the leadership, I haven’t thought that far ahead, and there don’t seem to be that many obvious lefties in the ANC’s higher echelons. Perhaps Nkosasana Dlamini-Zuma, if she came to be seen as a “don’t rock the boat” candidate.

It’s just an idea.


Just to clarify, I didn’t mean that Nkosasana Dlamini-Zuma is an “obvious lefty”, just that she might be the candidate preferable to Cosatu.