ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte received a hostile reception at the packed old Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, Limpopo during Cosatu’s May Day Rally on Monday.
Duarte was booed, heckled on stage and almost prevented from addressing the rally by a section of the crowd.
Denouncing President Jacob Zuma and praising his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa, the hostile group started jeering Duarte and demanding she leaves the podium.
Other members carrying placards written, “Cyril for President” also disrupted Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana’s speech screaming Ramaphosa for president.
Zokwana is also the SACP’s national chairperson.
This was followed by several pleas by Limpopo Premier Stanley Mathabatha cautioning members to refrain from ill-discipline.
Duarte hits back accusing the federation of not respecting the stance taken by the ANC.
“Cosatu takes it upon itself to make a decision of which we must respect but they do not want to respect our decision which is that our president will go in December,” said Duarte.
She said despite the disruptions, the ANC would not retaliate against the federation as the party understood the differences of personal opinions.
“The ANC will never mobilize like this against Cosatu, we will not do that. All that we are saying is that those who are formatting divisions will not succeed,” said Duarte, who is seen as one of President Zuma’s closest allies in the ANC top six.
When asked whether she felt betrayed by the union, Duarte said that she wasn’t at all.
Instead workers were the ones who were betrayed because of people who were spreading false information.
Cosatu deputy general secretary Solly Phetoe did not help the situation when he openly reiterated the federation’s call for Ramaphosa to succeed President Zuma as ANC leader at the party’s elective national conference in December.
He defended his actions and said the statements were not sowing divisions within the tripartite alliance.
Phetoe said this was because the labour federation has already pronounced on its preferred candidate for the ANC presidency.
“Some of you will not like what I am going to say because it is Cosatu’s position; Cyril must be president of the ANC in 2017. Cosatu has taken a decision in their national conference in 2016 and that has been a tradition of the ANC for the deputy president to emerge as the party’s leader after their term of office ends and we did that in 2007. So unions of Cosatu are calling that on the basics of the ANC,” said Phetoe.
Ramaphosa is squaring off against former AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for the party’s top job.
Earlier, Duarte, Zokwana and Limpopo ANC secretary Nocks Seabi had led a Cosatu march on Premier Mathabatha’s office in downtown Polokwane.
Cosatu Provincial Secretary Gerald Thwala delivered a memorandum to Premier Mathabatha and Limpopo Treasury MEC Rob Tooley.
The federation demanded transformation of Treasury, the absorption of temporary teachers and an end to what he called the provincial government’s affront on workers, among others.
Addressing workers outside the premier’s office, Nehawu First Deputy President Mike Shingange accused the ANC of being “synonymous with corruption” — a charge rejected by Premier Mathabatha.
“The ANC cannot be corrupt. Only individuals can like in any other party,” said Premier Mathabatha.