The collective shock when labour federation Cosatu announced it was cancelling all speeches, including one by Jacob Zuma, at its annual May Day rally in Bloemfontein has brought into sharp focus the dissent over the president.
Political analysts argue that the boos and jeers Zuma received from Cosatu members suggest that a pro-Zuma candidate could lose the ANC the 2019 election. They say it also indicates that Cosatu members have now joined movements such as Save South Africa and opposition parties, who have led protests against Zuma since he sacked former finance minister Pravin Gordhan.
Susan Booysen, a political analyst from the University of the Witwatersrand’s School of Governance, said the booing at the rally signified the loss of one of the ANC’s most powerful mobilisers. Cosatu has traditionally used its “organisational mobilisation capacity” to help the ANC win previous elections, she said.
“The ANC has been extremely reliant on that. It is now a resource that has evaporated by all indications,” Booysen said.