Lead­er­ship over­haul at NUM congress changes what might hap­pen in Cosatu con­flict and ANC suc­ces­sion strug­gle

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highly com­pe­tent or­gan­is­ers over some mi­nor dif­fer­ences and cre­ated fer­tile ground for di­vi­sions and fac­tions, with most peo­ple fol­low­ing their lead­ers into the hands of ri­val unions.”

A del­e­gate from the plat­inum belt said: “Even a blind man could have seen that Baleni was lay­ing this union on a sil­ver plat­ter for the dogs to tear into.”

Yes­ter­day, Sipunzi down­played the sig­nif­i­cance of his victory, say­ing “peo­ple like mak­ing moun­tains out of mole­hills”. But he did in­di­cate a change of di­rec­tion, say­ing he would like to share a ta­ble with Amcu.

“We could en­gage Amcu in unity talks in a bid to level the ground for healthy com­pe­ti­tion among the ri­val unions. Noth­ing pre­vents us from do­ing that,” he said.

He said the NUM had lost mem­bers be­cause “some were given false prom­ises and oth­ers were ex­pelled right­fully or wrong­fully”. On Cosatu, he said it was the NUM’s duty to unite it. “At the mo­ment, we have some af­fil­i­ates in­side and out­side the fed­er­a­tion. Cosatu must go back to where it was,” said Sipunzi.

Numsa deputy gen­eral sec­re­tary Karl Cloete said the union would make a public ap­peal to the new NUM lead­er­ship about re­solv­ing di­vi­sions in Cosatu.

“If they want unity in the fed­er­a­tion, we’ll ask them to iden­tify as­pects of what went wrong in Cosatu with­out any in­ter­fer­ence from the ANC and the SA Com­mu­nist Party,” said Cloete.

He was op­ti­mistic about Vavi’s fu­ture, say­ing the NUM’s “or­di­nary mem­bers never took it for granted that their union had dealt with its own in a very de­spi­ca­ble man­ner un­der Baleni”.

The Food and Al­lied Work­ers’ Union (Fawu), one of those back­ing Vavi and Numsa, said the NUM’s hunger for mem­bers might pre­vent it from fight­ing for Numsa’s re­in­state­ment.

But Fawu gen­eral sec­re­tary Katishi Masemola said Vavi’s NUM roots would en­sure that the new lead­er­ship would fight for its own.

“This kind of lead­er­ship change bodes well for a change of stance in Cosatu, es­pe­cially for Vavi,” he said.

One of Baleni’s long-term lieu­tenants, who de­scribed Sipunzi as “a brave union­ist”, said the change in lead­er­ship would have a big im­pact on the up­com­ing Cosatu congress.

“The like­li­hood is the NUM train will change di­rec­tion re­gard­ing Vavi and Numsa, and they might want them back on board,” he said.

Mean­while, the Baleni fac­tion’s push for a Ramaphosa/Man­tashe ticket at the ANC’s 2017 con­fer­ence could be dead in the wa­ter.

If he had re­tained his po­si­tion, Baleni would have been a force­ful driver to get NUM branches – many dou­bling as ANC branches – to back Ramaphosa and Man­tashe.

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