The Congress of South African Trade Unions, or Cosatu, is a partner in the tripartite alliance with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP). Cosatu claim to be on the forefront of the struggle for democracy and workers’ rights.
A few days back, Cosatu staged a protest against Israel in favour of the Palestinian people. Except the protest wasn’t as much against Israel as it appeared to be against the Jewish community in South Africa. The protest was held together with the Palestinian Solidarity Committee (PSC), not outside the Israeli embassy but instead in a Jewish residential community.
Firstly, Wonkie is not overly biased for or against either side in this conflict – please read our thoughts in the Haiku for Gaza post last month. We hold the view that peaceful 2 state solution in the region is long overdue. From an objective standpoint, the Israeli response to the Gaza conflict has been clearly disproportionate. And it is equally clear that despite the total ineffectiveness of their attacks, some Palestinian elements are determined to continue pricking an elephant with a thumb tack, bringing on an even more aggressive response and unnecessary death of innocent Palestinians.
Secondly, the issue here is Cosatu’s apparently determined action on this issue. Bongani Masuku of Cosatu was quoted as saying “We want to convey a message to the Jews in SA that our 1.9-million workers who are affiliated to Cosatu are fully behind the people of Palestine.” Cosatu further went on to declare a victory after dock-workers belonging to some member unions, decided not to offload Israeli goods from a ship last week.
Thirdly, this is all occurring at a time where Cosatu should surely be focusing their activist asses on an impending recession that is going to affect South African workers far more than anything that has hit them before. Or perhaps they really believe the naive comments of Tito “weather the storm” Mboweni at the reserve bank. Cosatu would be more effectively supporting their members by trying to figure out solutions for a crisis directly affecting local workers rather than some political conflict in some relatively irrelevant part of the world. If they insist on pursuing political causes perhaps they should also look at child-labour in Pakistan, human exploitation in China and a host of other more relevant issues aligned to their purpose. Perhaps they just don’t have any local chums to make them consider those issues as being relevant.