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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Trade unionism and politics in Africa: the South African experience
Author:Budeli, Mpfariseni
Periodical:The Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa (ISSN 0010-4051)
Geographic terms:Africa
South Africa
Subjects:trade unions
labour history
Abstract:This paper reflects on trade unionism and politics in Africa in general and South Africa in particular, from colonization to the post-colonial era and the period of constitutional democratic order based on multiparty politics. It first deals with the origins of trade unions, their relationship with political parties, their critical role in the struggle for independence, and their contribution to present-day struggles for democracy. Special emphasis is on South Africa as an illuminating case of the African experience with trade unionism and politics, particularly because South African trade unionism is the most developed on the continent and postapartheid South Africa is one of the few democratic and constitutional States on the continent. The paper then explores the particular origins of trade unionism in South Africa, its relationship with political parties, its contribution to the struggle against apartheid, and the current status, strengths and weaknesses of South African trade unionism. It focuses on the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the largest federation of trade unions in South Africa. The paper argues that trade unions remain critical for democratic consolidation and will continue to play a meaningful role in this process. However, despite their relationship with political parties, trade unions should remain autonomous. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]