SA’s Political Future Hangs In The Balance As NUMSA-COSATU Spat Heats Up

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (NUMSA) clearly plans to stick to its guns in the battle to remain a member of trade union federation Cosatu, and force a change of leadership and new political direction for the federation. In a statement on Monday Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim laid out the union’s anti- ANC and anti-tripartite alliance stance:

“A filthy rich Black and African tiny middle class, now politically represented by Cyril Ramaphosa, has become very vocal and evident, and is now leading the ANC,” said Jim.

He accused this group of launching a propaganda war against the dissenting union and of trying to convince Numsa’s members to abandon the union.

Jim also attacked the current leadership of Cosatu, in particular Cosatu President Sdumo Dlamini. He said there is an irreconciliable rupture within Cosatu between the forces of capitalism and the forces of socialism.

“We make this correct statement confidently because we have seen how in the CEC [Central Executive Committee] some now argue why we should not be campaigning against e-tolling… why we must support the ANC even as we all can see that neoliberalism is alive and well during the Zuma leadership, and ultimately today, some leaders are quite comfortable with GEAR which is now called the NDP,” said Jim.

The union made it quite clear it has no intention to go it alone, and accept a possible expulsion from Cosatu.

“Numsa will let no one, or any groups of individuals, separate it from the 2.2 million members of affiliates of Cosatu whom we know very well the majority recognise, appreciate and endorse the principles, values…constitution and decisions of Numsa precisely because all these are also Cosatu principles, values, resolutions, policies and decisions,” he said.

Earlier this year Cosatu was pulled back from the brink after the ANC put together a task team to attempt to mediate and resolve the internal battles of the federation. The task team noted that Cosatu is on the verge of collapse. Jim dismissed the ANC task team report as a ‘farce’ aimed at undermining Numsa and their calls for a special national congress.

According to Jim such a congress is the only constitutional structure capable of saving Cosatu. The union has made it clear it is willing to turn to the courts if necessary to stay within Cosatu and fight for such a congress to be held.

“The only reason why the Sdumo NOBs [National Office Bearers] have blatantly violated the Cosatu Constitution by not holding a special Cosatu national congress even when the affiliates of Cosatu who have petitioned for the special congress have met all the constitutional requirements is precisely because they all know and understand that the majority of members of Cosatu affiliates will easily side with Numsa’s principles, values, resolutions, policies, constitution and decisions,” said Numsa.

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