The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is pledging its unflinching support for the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party ahead of next year's general election. COSATU says the ruling party's economic policy shift towards fighting poverty in the country deserves praise. The trade union said it would work hard to ensure that the ruling ANC gets an even bigger majority in parliament in the election. Somadoda Fikeni is a South African political analyst. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the capital, Pretoria that the trade union has a large following, which could be significantly beneficial to the ANC ahead of next year's general election.

"It is quite significant when you consider the fact that this labor federation is well represented across the country, and well disciplined and organized. So, it provides a very strong mobilizing machinery on the ground for the ANC, particularly in the urban areas where you have high labor concentration and membership," Fikeni pointed out.

He said the trade union has always been a staunch supporter of the ruling party.

"COSATU together with the South Africa Communist Party have always been part of the ANC alliance and therefore, before each one of the elections since 1994 they have always participated or even pledged openly that they will support the ANC in its efforts. So, this is a continuation of that tradition," he said.

Fikeni disagreed with COSATU's claims that the ANC has shifted its focus to fighting poverty.

"Not at all, actually there is a lot of continuity within the ANC policies and as such the current president of the country who is deputy president of the ANC Kgalema Motlanthe as well as the ANC president Jacob Zuma and several other ANC senior members have assured the business community and the world that there will be continuity in terms of policies. But what the emphasis is now looking back at the last 14 or 15 years is more on sharpening the delivery mechanism because there is a general agreement that South Africa has good policies, but it has been less than successful in terms of implementation," Fikeni noted.

He said although the trade union has support muscle, it would take more than that if the ruling ANC is to be successful in next year's general election.

"It won't take COSATU alone to do that. There are several other factors that we have to take into account. One, this would be a seriously contested election in which case ANC may face the prospect of losing its two thirds majority. But it is still expected to win a majority and therefore continue to be there government. And it may even lose some of the provinces like the Western Cape and this is due to the ANC's own internal problems and factionalism that have been allowed to go on for the last few years. It is the one that is mainly responsible for the breakaway groups and their successes or even successes of the opposition parties," he said.

COSATU said the ANC, which is facing an unprecedented challenge from a breakaway party, had done well to focus on job creation and poverty eradication under the leadership of Jacob Zuma, who took the ruling party's top job a year ago.

COSATU and the smaller Communist Party backed Zuma when he beat former South African President Thabo Mbeki for the ANC leadership last year. Mbeki was ousted as president in September.