[Marxism] Cosatu statement on SADC/Zim

glparramatta glparramatta at greenleft.org.au
Mon Aug 27 18:48:02 MDT 2007

First or all, I don't think COSATU's alliance with the ruling ANC party 
is as unique as Walter believes. As far as I know, there are no COSATU 
members in governent ``explicitly as representatives of the labor 
movement''. There are no ``COSATU'' ministers or ``COSATU'' MPs. There 
may be some former COSATU officials, but they all under ANC caucus 
discipline, as are SACP members. There are none directly representing 
COSATU. (Perhaps that would be a step forward.)

I don't think the situation is fundamentally different to the situation 
in Australia, where the majority of trade unions are affiliated to the 
thoroughly capitalist Australian Labor Party (or in Britain, NZ and many 
European countries where capitalist ``social democratic'' parties are 
ruling parties or seek to be). I might even venture that it not is not 
in essence that different to the US unions' relationship with the US 

The problems this produces I think are also similar (although to varying 
degrees from country to country). The unions have compromised their 
class independence in the fight for their members' interests, in order 
to have ``influence'' over capitalist governments which either ignore or 
abuse the very people the trade unions represent. The real role is to 
coopt the top layers of the unions and reinforce class collaborationism. 
It delays the creation of a genuinely pro-working class party to 
politically represent workers.

Clearly, this situation is provoking a real debate within COSATU and the 
SACP at the moment. That is for them to decide. However in the parallel 
situation in Australia, it would be a step forward for the Australian 
unions to untangle themselves from subserviance to the capitalist ALP.


Walter Lippmann wrote:

>Hi, Norm -
>Most interesting document. Thanks for sharing it.
>Not trying to open the familiar debate on the ANC government
>this time, I would like to ask Norm to discuss his thinking
>about the political meaning of the fact that COSATU, which
>belongs to this same government, remains in it despite such
>actions at those it protests here.
>My impression is that, regardless of their differences over
>Zimbabwe, and other matters, like police brutality, etc.,
>COSATU's differences aren't considered significant enough
>for them to leave the South African government. Now as far
>as I'm aware, South Africa is the only country on earth in
>which trade unions are currently members of the government
>Explicitly as representatives of the labor movement.
>What is the political significance of union membership in
>the government, and why, in your estimation, are issues
>like police brutality and Zimbabwe NOT splitting issues
>for COSATU?
>Walter Lippmann

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