Cosatu special congress is a bad idea

The idea that a Cosatu special congress will magically wipe the slate clean for the conflict-prone union federation is misguided.

This because Cosatu will go to the mooted congress – if its president Sdumo Dlamini agrees to convene one – more divided at this time than it has ever been in its 28-year history.

Those Cosatu leaders who think hastily getting rid of one faction will help get the federation back on track need to think long and hard.

They obviously have not learnt any lessons from the ANC’s recent history.

The party went to its 2007 Polokwane conference deeply fragmented, resulting in one faction emerging triumphant.

The losing faction either walked away quietly, or splintered to form the Congress of the People. The impact of the split took time to be felt, and now manifests in waning electoral fortunes for the ANC in many provinces.

Cosatu leaders narrowly averted a leadership contest last year even though there were signs everywhere that some affiliates wanted the factions to fight it out.

The result was the compromise that saw both Zwelinzima Vavi and Dlamini re-elected without contest.

Forging ahead with a congress now is likely to result in the losing faction drifting out to form its own body.

While that may hasten the realignment of the political landscape by fracturing the ANC-led Tripartite Alliance, it is not in the interest of Cosatu’s membership.

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