'New leadership will unite alliance'

Ido Lekota

Ido Lekota

Labour federation Cosatu and the SACP say that the election of Jacob Zuma as the new president of the ANC was a call by ordinary members for change in the manner that the party has been run under former president Thabo Mbeki.

The parties said under Mbeki, the ANC's style of engagement with its alliance members was alienating.

"We are confident that part of the ANC vote at the conference is due to the fact that the delegates need a new way of engagement," said SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande.

He said part of the ANC's problems under Mbeki's leadership was that it marginalised its alliance partners, thereby removing itself from the masses that both Cosatu and the SACP represented.

"The new ANC president is one of those leaders who have consistently shown a willingness to engage with alliance partners," Nzimande said.

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi concurred with Nzimande saying under Zuma, the new leadership stood the best chance of uniting the tripartite alliance "more than any other leadership collective".

Both leaders said the election of the new leadership was an opportunity for the rebuilding of the tripartite alliance - and coming with a common programme to deal with the scourges of poverty, HIV-Aids and unemployment.

Mbeki has previously accused the leadership of both Cosatu and the SACP of being "ultra-leftists", a label that the leadership of both organisations has described as an attempt to marginalise them.

He has also described Nzimande as "extremely arrogant".

"The SACP believes that the electoral renewal of the ANC leadership provides a platform on which to rebuild our alliance around a shared programme of action.

"For too long intra-alliance relationships have been marked by recriminations and stand-offs," said Nzimande.

Vavi said that the leadership of the ANC and the alliance could not afford retributions, vengeance and settling of old scores.

"That is not the mandate as we understand it.

"The strategic objectives are to build genuine unity and address the socioeconomic challenges facing the majority."