The 11th national congress of trade union federation Cosatu disappointed its media critics by re-electing top officials unanimously and refusing to pull itself apart over the question of who should lead the African National Congress.
Its 3,000 delegates deferred consideration of the question until next month's central executive committee meeting.
But it is extremely likely from the demeanour of erstwhile prominent critics of President Jacob Zuma - metalworkers' union (Numsa) general secretary Irvin Jim and teachers' union (Sadtu) president Thobile Ntola - that Zuma will get organised labour's nod.
Cosatu president Sidumo Dlamini thanked delegates for showing trust in the leadership and pledged an end to disunity and policy incoherence among national office bearers and affiliates.
"You have told us that a strong Cosatu must mean a strong coordinating centre with authority to direct our struggle. We want affiliates that respect and implement their own decisions in the federation.
"In this context there shall be no union that is above Cosatu and there shall be no individual who is above Cosatu."
Hanging over the heads of the 3,000 delegates was the Marikana massacre of platinum miners and the disputes at other mines encouraged by the pay rise of between 12 and 22 per cent won at Lonmin through church leaders' mediation, following worker discontent over the role of the mineworkers' union (NUM) and the murder of NUM shop stewards.
Dlamini urged "all those workers who out of anger left to join other unions" to return and raise issues within their Cosatu affiliate.
He declared that the next three years until the next Cosatu congress would see unity in action, with South Africa's streets covered with the red T-shirts of the Communist Party (SACP) and Cosatu and black, green and gold T-shirts of the ANC, marching alongside civic organisations, students, the ANC youth and women's leagues, workers in the informal sector, church leaders and progressive civil society.
"The battle cry is one - we want total emancipation. We want to live in the South Africa of the Freedom Charter and not of the National Development Plan unless such a plan is predicated on the vision articulated in Freedom Charter."
The president pointed out that the people had elected the ANC-led alliance to power not the National Treasury, insisting that "our freedom cannot be delayed by bureaucrats."
Dlamini reminded delegates preparing for the ANC conference in Mangaung of late ANC president Oliver Tambo's words in closing the 1969 Morogoro conference.
"Wage a relentless war against disrupters and defend the ANC against provocateurs and enemy agents.
"Defend the revolution against enemy propaganda, whatever form it takes. Be vigilant, comrades."
SACP leader Blade Nzimande warned congress that "global capitalism everywhere seeks to defeat the organised working class - a powerful barrier to its anti-popular strategies."
He hit out at the Democratic Alliance opposition for its "middle-class flirtation with anarchy" in trying to "out-Malema Malema" by leading a march on Cosatu HQ "with a rag-tag army of suburbanites and desperate and misguided township youth."
Nzimande pointed out that, unlike other parts of the world where middle strata join workers in protests against neoliberalism, "our middle class, especially its white sections, has turned its venom against the ANC government, including racist attitudes rearing their ugly head anew, especially through the internet."
This was partly in desperation because the current ANC government, however unevenly, had committed itself to the ANC-SACP-Cosatu alliance and abandoned "neoliberalism, privatisation, anti-communism, and anti-worker positions."
The SACP leader told the movement to learn appropriate lessons from Marikana, recalling the platinum bosses' constant efforts to smash the NUM and the reign of terror in the Rustenburg region where "vigilante thugs associated with the pseudo-union murdered 34 NUM shop stewards."
He was self-critical over so little being done for the living standards of the miners and their families during the boom times.
"We failed these workers and their families. We failed to leverage effective social responsibility requirements out of the mining houses.
"We were too focused on using the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Act to enforce BEE (black economic empowerment) shareholding."
After attacking the development in the miners' informal settlements of "lumpen-patriarchal networks" that had used coercion and patronage to gain control of shebeens, minibus operations, shacklordism as well as traditional medicine and loan-sharking businesses, Nzimande backed the government crackdown on illegal weapons, intimidation and incitement to violence.
The SACP supports the independent judicial inquiry into Marikana, insisting that "wrong-doing by the police must be uncovered" and the party is working with its structures in mining settlements to prepare evidence for the inquiry.
He pointed out progressive changes introduced by government since Zuma's election as president and challenged all trade unionists to be politically active.
"If you are a worker leader and you are not active in ANC or SACP structures, where do you get your politics from?" he asked.
Reminding delegates that they are "not spectators to our revolution," he urged them to "take responsibility for the national democratic revolution."
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