African National Congress (ANC) national chairperson Gwede Mantashe has been booed off stage at the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) national congress.
The trade union federation kicked off its 14th national congress on Monday, in Johannesburg, where it was expected to discuss policy and elect new leadership.
Cosatu, which was formed in December 1985, is South Africa’s biggest trade union federation and is in alliance with the governing ANC and the South African Communist Party (SACP).
Mantashe was supposed to present the ANC’s message of support to the union, but his stay was short lived after he was heckled by Cosatu members.
As he went on stage to deliver the ANC’s message of support, hundreds of delegates left their seats, walking to the front of the venue and singing loudly.
According to reports, delegates did not want Mantashe to address them because workers were angry.
Delegates chanted “asinamali” and “hamba-Gwede”.
When Cosatu first deputy president Mike Shingange tried to calm down the delegates, they shouted “Hamba Gwede! Hamba.”
ANC national executive (NEC) members Mmamaloko Kubayi and Lindiwe Zulu supported Mantashe after he left the stage.
They are blaming ANC for failing to address the labour, living, and economic crises.
Some of the key issues that are expected to be discussed by delegates at the conference include the country’s high unemployment rate, energy crisis and the recent fuel price hikes that are contributing to the high cost of living for workers and South Africans, in general.
Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi is expected to stand for a second term as the federation’s leader.
Losi made history four years ago when she was elected as Cosatu’s first female leader, after taking over the reins from Sidumo Dlamini.