Cosatu in KwaZulu-Natal has called on President Thabo Mbeki to opt out of the ANC presidential race to avoid humiliation and loss of integrity.
Zet Luzipho, the provincial secretary of Cosatu, said yesterday that if Mbeki continued on the path of contesting the ANC top seat, it would be seen by many as trying to block Zuma from running the country.
His comments come after five provinces nominated Zuma as their preferred candidate for the top ANC post, and eventually that of the country.
Since Friday, all provinces have held their Provincial General Councils to nominate the top six leaders and the 60-member NEC candidates ahead of the Limpopo national conference, which would be held in the next two weeks. Zuma has surprisingly got more nominations than the incumbent Mbeki.
Cosatu said this was a clear indication that people want change. "We call on the president of the ANC to respect the outcomes of the five provincial general councils and the ANC Youth League by stepping out of the race, lest he risks humiliation and loss of integrity.
"His continued contest would be seen as an act of blocking a Zuma presidency. If he can step aside, he would be strengthened."
Luzipho said as Cosatu, they welcome the provincial ANC PGC electoral outcome to nominate Zuma and a balanced NEC collective. Cosatu also said the outcome of the nominations pours "sarcasm and leaves the egg on the face of Mosiuoa Lekota, ANC national chairman, who attacked Zuma for singing Umshini Wami, which he said encouraged tribalism.
Over the weekend, KwaZulu-Natal made some changes in their NEC nominations by rooting out all the pro-Mbeki members like Joel Netshitenzhe, who was replaced by Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, and Bridget Mabandla who was substituted by Ruth Bhengu.
ANC spokesman Tiyani Rikhotso described Cosatu's call as unfortunate and shameful. He said it was not for an individual or a group of individuals to decide who should lead the ANC.
"It is members of the party who can decide who leads the ANC, not an individual or any group. It is strange that people who claim to be members of the ANC can turn their back against the tradition of the party they claim to belong to. If they wanted to raise the issue, they know of the channels they should have followed and not the media."
Meanwhile, Mbeki suffered another booing in absentia at KwaMashu on Sunday when people who had gathered at the Princess Magogo Stadium for the screening of the Fifa preliminary draw shouted insults at him when he delivered his speech during the live TV broadcast.
Organisers had to switch off the big screen until he finished because people were throwing missiles at the screen.