Man­tashe may be too late to stop Cosatu rift

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - CRAIG DODDS

TOO lit­tle, too late. The olive branch held out by ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe this week in a bid to pre­vent Cosatu tear­ing it­self apart has not soft­ened the po­si­tion of me­tal­work­ers’ union Numsa, which has put the op­tion of leav­ing the fed­er­a­tion and form­ing a work­ers’ party in op­po­si­tion to the ANC firmly on the ta­ble.

Th­ese are among the pro­pos­als to be de­cided when Numsa holds a spe­cial na­tional congress in two weeks, and the signs are that while it might give Cosatu one more chance, a work­ers’ party is a near cer­tainty, though not be­fore next year’s elec­tions.

Man­tashe told a meet­ing of the SA Trans­port and Al­lied Work­ers Union (Satawu) this week that if gun­ning for Cosatu gen­eral sec­re­tary Zwelinz­ima Vavi would come at the price of a split in the fed­er­a­tion, it was not worth it, and Cosatu should “try some­thing else”.

Given the grow­ing pres­sure on Vavi in re­cent weeks amid a probe into his sex­ual li­ai­son with a ju­nior col­league, the al­legedly ir­reg­u­lar sale of Cosatu House, Vavi’s stri­dent crit­i­cism of the ANC gov­ern­ment, and new claims that the fed­er­a­tion paid for pri­vate flights on his be­half, Man­tashe’s com­ments were seen as a last-ditch at­tempt to patch up dif­fer­ences and avert a Numsa walk­out.

While other af­fil­i­ates as­so­ci­ated with ef­forts to have Vavi re­in­stated have dis­tanced them­selves from talk of a split, Numsa may be able to win over sig­nif­i­cant num­bers of mem- bers, es­pe­cially if it also opts to ditch the Cosatu rule that af­fil­i­ate unions re­cruit only in their des­ig­nated sec­tor. This is another pro­posal to be de­cided at its spe­cial congress.

It has al­ready been ac­cused of re­cruit­ing mem­bers of what was Cosatu’s big­gest af­fil­i­ate, the Na­tional Union of Minework­ers, which has also been bleed­ing mem­bers to its main ri­val, the As­so­ci­a­tion of Minework­ers and Con­struc­tion Union, al­low­ing Numsa to over­take it as the top Cosatu union.

Numsa re­gional lead­ers wel­comed the pos­si­bil­ity that Vavi might be res­cued, but said the dif­fer­ences in Cosatu were big­ger than the fate of the gen­eral sec­re­tary.

Sizwe Dlamini, Wits Cen­tral re­gional sec­re­tary, said Man­tashe was “adopt­ing a fac­tional stance” and should in­stead have been try­ing to me­di­ate a so­lu­tion. He called on Man­tashe to clar­ify what he in­tended in his com­ments.

LAST DITCH: Gwede Man­tashe in­ter­vened.

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