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cosatuColumnist Mamokgethi Malopyane writes that in 2018 the Left within the Tripartite Alliance seems fated to repeat the pattern of last year – unable to influence the political and policy direction of the ANC.  

As last month showed, the ANC no longer deems it necessary to elect any of the SA Communist Party (SACP) leaders into its powerful National Executive Committee (NEC).  While the ANC shunned the Communists, it did readily welcome Cosatu’s S’dumo Dlamini and Zingiswa Losi into the NEC.  But before long these two labour leaders will no doubt be heading to government, leaving a vacuum within an already weakened labour federation.  With a host of challenges, Cosatu is said to be facing its biggest organisational challenge to date.  It has the politically weakest leaders in its history, its organisational and worker focused programmes are weak, if not ineffective.  It is truly a house divided and in disarray.  To the author, the most remarkable feature of the decline of Cosatu (and its affiliated trade unions) has firstly been losing its ‘activist’ edge and, secondly, its inability to respond to the challenges of globalisation.  It is argued that by aligning themselves with the governing ANC, the unions have become insiders who have been co–opted into the system they’re supposed to be fighting.  Malopyane says that to revive the labour movement, leaders must go back to their actual role: as driver of the redistributive agenda and defender of the voiceless poor.  But first, it is time they untangle themselves from the alliance partnership – where they remain the biggest loser in it.

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