The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), the country’s largest labour federation, has called on the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party to end internal factional battles, corruption and scandals.

Cosatu, a partner of the ANC in the Tripartite Alliance formed in 1990 along with the South African Communist Party (SACP), held a three-day meeting of its Central Executive Committee (CEC) here this week.

Cosatu’s Acting General Secretary, Bheki Ntshalintshali, told the media after the meeting here Thursday that the ANC’s disastrous showing in this month’s local government elections, with its support dropping by eight percentage points, indicated discontent and a growing sense of alienation with the party.

Noting that several factors had contributed to this, including the ANC’s leadership, Ntshalintshali elaborated: It is undeniable that the voters are unhappy with the way the leadership of our movement handled the Nkandla matter including the Constitutional judgment on the report by the Public Protector. They are unhappy with the economic corporatism, corruption, political and bureaucratic arrogance including factionalism that has left the ANC paralysed.

He was referring to the expensive renovations undertaken at the private homestead of President Jacob Zuma at Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal Province paid for with tax-payers’ money uncovered by the Public Protector (Ombudsman) and the subsequent court order directing the president to repay the government part of the total costs.

Cosatu says there is a need for sober assessment and introspection, adding that issues such as banning e-tolls and free access to education need to be looked into.

The Cosatu’s CEC says it is not opposed to an early conference following requests from the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) but adds that there needs to be a strong motivation.

Earlier this week, the ANC Secretary-General, Gwede Mantashe, said an early conference is not a bad idea, provided it united the ruling party.

Cosatu, however, also has its own set of challenges, with the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) recently leaving the federation.

Ntshalintshali said the exit came as no surprise as Fawu had actively worked against Cosatu.

Cosatu has been very patient with Fawu because we are worried about the plight of farm workers. We tolerated the decision by their leadership to boycott Cosatu meetings since 2014 and also did not disaffiliate them, despite the fact that they have not paid (their dues).