Durban – The tripartite alliance is facing real problems, President Jacob Zuma told workers at a May Day rally in Durban on Friday.
“The real enemy in the alliance is not the people we see, but the people who control them,” he said.
“How can people turn their backs on us when we have come this far. In the beginning those are the same people that said that the alliance will never die. These are the same people that have turned against us today.
“As the government we are together with you. We have a historic and leadership duty to communities to stand together.”
Zuma called on workers to unite in the pursuit in economic freedom.
“Let us know that our task is to unite this country. Long live Cosatu. We are happy to see you united. It gives us hope that no matter what challenges you may face, you will come out on top.”
The embattled trade union federation has been struck by internal fighting.
Last month, its general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi was expelled.
Cosatu has also expelled its biggest trade union affiliate, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa).
This was after resolutions Numsa took at a special congress in December 2013. One of the resolutions was to not support the ANC in the general elections.
Numsa and Vavi have joined forces and have been travelling around the country speaking to workers.
There was talk of establishing a workers’ party and a new trade union federation.
Numsa was holding its own May Day event, also in Durban.
True to form, Zuma ended his address by breaking into song.
“Inde Lendlela eesehanjwe abasebenzi… Inde abasazoyihamba [the workers have travelled a long way to get to where they are, but there is still a long road ahead for them],” he sang in Zulu.
Before his address, Zuma was introduced by KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu said: “We have been inspired beyond our imaginations since the formation of Cosatu.
“We have seen the EFF coming into KZN, an organisation led by hooligans,” he said referring to Julius Malema.
“That’s why when they came here, they went to visit displaced foreign nationals. That is where they started criticising the government. He blamed everything on Zuma during his visit. That is what this hooligan’s agenda is. It’s to look down upon the ANC.”
Mchunu thanked Speaker Baleka Mbete for restoring order in Parliament and said she handled herself well.
“She showed how hooligans are meant to be handled.
“They thought that they could fight in Parliament. They are nothing today,” he said.