Cosatu in fight for more clout

A BATTLE for the control of President Jacob Zuma's soul is unfolding in the ruling tripartite alliance, which includes the ANC, Cosatu and the SA Communist Party.

So far, the labour federation has won small but significant victories, including a controversial assurance by Zuma that he would reconsider his previous assertion that he wanted to serve one five-year term as president.

Zuma has also incorporated more Cosatu and SACP members into his Cabinet than his predecessors.

Cosatu general-secretary Zwelin-zima Vavi said the labour federation now wanted more power for Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel, who is a former member of Cosatu's central executive committee.

Vavi said Zuma had made it clear that the economic development minister would coordinate economicpolicy. "Economic policy includes industrial strategy."

Currently, national treasury drives the country's macro-economic policy whereas Department of Trade and Industry drives the micro-economic strategy.

Vavi said Cosatu had also made its demands known in terms of how the National Planning Commission and the Performance and Monitoring Evaluating Department should work.

"The planning commission and how it's going to function still needs to be properly settled.

"We want an institution that is going to be able to track down all the commitments that have been made and enforce them.

"We want that to happen as part of the Cabinet working committee because that's the role of the planning commission as we understand it," Vavi said.

Hardly a month since Zuma took office, Cosatu has already launched various salvos to entrench its dominance at the centre of power in the ANC.

Though admitting the labour federation would play a major role in curbing wage strikes that threaten to cripple the public service, Cosatu president S'dumo Dlamini said the labour federation's recent comments did not suggest it wanted to be "the tail that wags the dog".

Political analyst Professor Adam Habib said Cosatu had won access to the corridors of power but "this does not mean they will win power".

"I think Zuma will encourage debate but that does not mean his soul is up for grabs.

"If you consider his state of the nation address, you'll note he is trying to appease all sides and there is no indication of a major shift to the left.

"I think Cosatu has won access to the corridors of power but this does not mean they will win power," said Habib, of the University of Johannesburg.