COSATU: TIME IS UP

A split is im­mi­nent as the rul­ing ANC gives up on me­di­a­tion

CityPress - - Front Page - JAN DE LANGE jan.de­lange@sake24.com re­port­ing by Carien du Plessis – Ad­di­tional

A NC heavy­weights will tell Cosatu this week that they have failed to re­solve their dis­pute with the fed­er­a­tion’s big­gest union – paving the way for a split.

But they will then do their best to con­vince Cosatu not to sus­pend the Na­tional Union of Me­tal­work­ers of SA (Numsa) and its more than 349 000 mem­bers.

Well-placed sources in the fed­er­a­tion told City Press it was in­evitable that Cosatu gen­eral sec­re­tary Zwelinz­ima Vavi, who sides with Numsa, will this week again be sus­pended for his ex­tra­mar­i­tal af­fair with a ju­nior em­ployee as well as other al­leged trans­gres­sions.

The ANC task team set up to mend fences be­tween Cosatu and Numsa will sub­mit its re­port to Cosatu’s cen­tral ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee on Tues­day.

City Press has learnt that the task team – Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa; sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe; his deputy, Jessie Duarte; trea­surer-gen­eral Zweli Mkhize; and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Ebrahim Pa­tel – has had two meet­ings with Numsa since it was es­tab­lished in April to stave off a pre-elec­tion split.

Al­liance in­sid­ers with knowl­edge of the process said Numsa stuck to its guns at both meet­ings. It be­lieves the ANC is no longer pro­mot­ing the na­tional demo­cratic revo­lu­tion; that the al­liance be­tween the ANC and Cosatu must end; that Cosatu must hold a spe­cial congress to elect new lead­ers; and that Numsa will ex­pand its scope to re­cruit work­ers in in­dus­tries where other Cosatu unions’ ser­vices to work­ers are poor.

Numsa is steam­ing ahead with the for­ma­tion of a broad na­tional front meant to lead to the es­tab­lish­ment of a new po­lit­i­cal party by March or April next year.

At the week­end, it an­nounced six lo­cal struc­tures for the United Front in Buf­falo City in East London, in Diep­kloof and Em­deni in Soweto, in Wit­bank and in the Makause squat­ter camp in Ger­mis­ton.

Numsa says it is es­tab­lish­ing its United Front to “join shop floor/trade union and com­mu­nity strug­gles”.

It will be very dif­fi­cult to ward off a split be­cause two unions, Cep­p­wawu in the chem­i­cal in­dus­try and Satawu in the trans­port in­dus­try, have lodged com­plaints against Numsa in the past two weeks over its ag­gres­sive

There are con­cerns that Vavi is in a po­si­tion to pre­pare the ground for the split as long as he stays there

re­cruit­ment of mem­bers in th­ese two sec­tors.

The com­plaints were be­ing han­dled jointly by Duarte and Cosatu deputy gen­eral sec­re­tary Bheki Nt­shal­intshali, Cosatu pres­i­dent Sdumo Dlamini told City Press on Fri­day.

Cep­p­wawu has been hit by al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion over the past two years. Satawu, which has al­ways been very strong in Transnet and among truck driv­ers and pri­vate se­cu­rity ser­vices, split a year ago when its pres­i­dent re­signed and formed an al­ter­na­tive union, the Na­tional Trans­port Move­ment. Both th­ese unions are there­fore al­ready se­verely weak­ened.

A source in the anti-Numsa camp, led by Dlamini, said: “There has al­ways been poach­ing of mem­bers from one another, but this is some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent. It vi­o­lates the scope of the unions that was agreed upon when Cosatu was es­tab­lished.”

Dlamini ad­mit­ted in an in­ter­view with City Press on Fri­day that di­vi­sions and dis­unity have “im­pacted on the func­tion­ing of the fed­er­a­tion”.

He said Cosatu’s cam­paign against e-toll leg­is­la­tion has suf­fered, along with res­o­lu­tions from a 2012 col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing con­fer­ence to close the wage gap, strengthen cen­tralised bar­gain­ing and leg­is­late a na­tional min­i­mum wage.

He said the is­sues were still there, “but it’s not up to where we would have loved to go”.

Talks about a su­per union have also stalled. This was an idea con­tained in a res­o­lu­tion from Cosatu’s 2011 con­fer­ence.

Dlamini said although the is­sue was still on the ta­ble, no work has been done in that re­gard.

This is­sue would have to be re­ported on at Cosatu’s con­fer­ence next year, he said.

“Cosatu has been grap­pling so much with its prob­lems that it hasn’t had a chance to do its work,” he said.

He added that Cosatu wasn’t as strong in the gov­ern­ing al­liance as it should be.

“We could have been stronger. We could have done bet­ter to en­sure that some of the leg­is­la­tion couldn’t be passed. The fact that we were fac­ing th­ese chal­lenges, they went through with­out our wish, we can­not deny that.”

He would not be drawn into com­ment­ing on Vavi’s fu­ture. The gen­eral sec­re­tary was sus­pended in Au­gust last year, but a court in April ruled that the sus­pen­sion was in­valid on tech­ni­cal grounds.

Ramaphosa then agreed with Cosatu’s other of­fice bear­ers that Vavi should re­main in of­fice as part of a “cease-fire”.

“Our team be­lieves they can pre­vent a split. Numsa is only stay­ing in Cosatu be­cause it is try­ing to hi­jack the name Cosatu. How­ever, there are con­cerns that Vavi is in a po­si­tion to pre­pare the ground for the split as long as he stays there. That’s why it is bet­ter to get rid of him,” an ANC source said.

Ramaphosa de­clined to com­ment.

BAT­TLE ROYAL Cosatu pres­i­dent Sdumo Dlamini

SPLIT? Numsa gen­eral sec­re­tary Irvin Jim

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