Shiva sorry for NUM med­dling — Baleni

Business Day - - FRONT PAGE - CAROL PA­TON Writer at Large pa­

SHIVA Uranium, the min­ing com­pany ac­cused of in­ter­fer­ing in the Na­tional Union of Minework­ers (NUM) lead­er­ship bat­tle, has apol­o­gised for its con­duct, says NUM gen­eral sec­re­tary Frans Baleni.

Shiva is owned by close as­so­ciates of Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma — Atul Gupta and Jagdish Parekh — and a black em­pow­er­ment con­sor­tium that in­cludes his son, Duduzane Zuma. Its mine is near Klerks­dorp, an im­por­tant po­lit­i­cal base for Mr Baleni’s failed chal­lenger, Oupa Ko­mane.

Mr Baleni and NUM pres­i­dent Sen­zeni Zok­wana last week ac­cused Shiva Uranium of fund­ing can­di­dates in the con­test for the union’s lead­er­ship. The con­test was de­cided at its congress, which ended on Satur­day.

“Shiva con­ceded to me and apol­o­gised and said that this was some­thing done by lo­cal man­agers with­out the knowl­edge of the di­rec­tors,” Mr Baleni said on Sun­day. He re­peated this on SAfm ra­dio yes­ter­day, but did not name the com­pany.

Shiva Uranium spokesman Gary Naidoo de­nied that the com­pany had pro­vided any re­sources to any­one who had par­tic­i­pated in the NUM lead­er­ship elec­tion. He said Mr Baleni must have been re­fer­ring to an­other com­pany.

Mr Baleni said the ex­tent of re­sources made avail­able by pri­vate com­pa­nies to in­di­vid­u­als in the elec­tion race “was amaz­ing”.

One can­di­date had been pro­vided with a rented ve­hi­cle, and lob­by­ing groups had re­ceived money for accommodation, petrol and food. In re­turn, he al­leged, the lob­by­ists had promised “there would never be a strike”.

A large venue in Kemp­ton Park, near the NUM congress venue, was rented by a com­pany for the use of a fac­tional group, Mr Baleni said. Iron­i­cally, the fac­tion that Shiva was said to have backed was iden­ti­fied with the “prochange” — or anti-Zuma — lobby in the union. Mr Baleni is viewed as a sup­porter of Mr Zuma.

Mr Baleni and the rest of his lead­er­ship corps were re­turned with a 60:40 ma­jor­ity.

“We wit­nessed alien be­hav­iour like the fund­ing of in­di­vid­u­als by pri­vate com­pa­nies,” he said. “If cor­rec­tive mea­sures are needed, we (the NUM) must take them.”

HE re-elec­tion of Frans Baleni as the gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Na­tional Union of Minework­ers (NUM) has far-reach­ing im­pli­ca­tions for the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), par­tic­u­larly for its own sec­re­tary, Zwelinz­ima Vavi.

Mr Baleni’s views are aligned more to those of Cosatu pres­i­dent Sdumo Dlamini, and as the gen­eral sec­re­tary lead­ing the largest del­e­ga­tion to Cosatu’s na­tional congress in Septem­ber, Mr Dlamini’s more diplo­matic ap­proach to is­sues such as lead­er­ship and al­liance re­la­tions is likely to hold sway.

Mr Baleni’s as­cen­dancy means the group close to Mr Dlamini has more au­thor­ity to neu­tralise Mr Vavi, who has been crit­i­cal of Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s gov­ern­ment.

While Mr Vavi’s voice in the fed­er­a­tion will not shrink, those in the Zuma camp within the unions have been boosted by the re-elec­tion.

Mr Baleni is close to African Na­tional Congress (ANC) sec­re­tary­gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe and South African Com­mu­nist Party (SACP) gen­eral sec­re­tary Blade Nz­i­mande, key play­ers in Mr Zuma’s re-elec­tion bid. Mr Baleni re­placed Mr Man­tashe as gen­eral sec­re­tary of the NUM.

Among Mr Vavi’s key sup­port­ers is Irvin Jim, the vo­cal gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Na­tional Union of Me­tal Work­ers of SA (Numsa). Un­like the NUM, Numsa is more mil­i­tant in its ap­proach and closer to Mr Vavi.

With his re-elec­tion all sown up, Mr Baleni is now poised to tackle Numsa over mem­ber­ship, sources say. The two unions of­ten clash about rep­re­sent­ing work­ers in the in­dus­tries in which they op­er­ate.

It is a num­bers game and a bat­tle for con­trol of Cosatu. The NUM congress re­solved to com­pel Cosatu to aid it in hav­ing about 7 000 mem­bers — em­ployed at Eskom and or­gan­ised by Numsa — re­turned to the min­ing union, from Numsa. Mr Baleni said Numsa had even be­gun re­cruit­ing work­ers from the min­ing and con­struc­tion sec­tors — which is solid NUM ter­rain.

Del­e­gates at the NUM’s four-day congress told of re­gional lead­ers who had lost out in elec­tions be­ing spot­ted re­cruit­ing for Numsa.

“Not only is Numsa not hand­ing over mem­ber­ship but start­ing to re­cruit in pure min­ing and also in con­struc­tion. That’s hard­en­ing at­ti­tudes,” said Mr Baleni.

Del­e­gates man­dated the NUM’s na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee to deal with the mat­ter. One of the op­tions it would ex­plore is forc­ing Cosatu to in­ter­vene by threat­en­ing to with­hold the NUM’s sub­scrip­tion fees. Unions pay a monthly sub­scrip­tion to be af­fil­i­ated to Cosatu, and that of the NUM is R800 000. It is one of the wealth­i­est unions in the coun­try.

Mr Baleni said its cur­rent to­tal sav­ings stood at R220m and it had amassed R134,4m in re­serves over the past three years.

The re­serves would be used to “cush­ion” the union in case of a dra­matic loss of mem­ber­ship, he said.

How­ever, Mr Baleni said, the na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee would have to weigh its op­tions care­fully, as with­hold­ing sub­scrip­tion fees may have con­sti­tu­tional im­pli­ca­tions for the union.

Mr Vavi, as or­gan­i­sa­tional head, is likely to be tasked with iron­ing out the mat­ter. This would place him in a tight corner, given his prox­im­ity to Mr Jim.

Numsa and the NUM his­tor­i­cally have been at odds with one an­other over their pos­ture to­wards pol­i­tics, with Numsa of­ten la­belled as a “work­erist” union — a term for a nar­rowly fo­cused union — which is more re­moved from po­lit­i­cal par­ties in the rul­ing al­liance.

The NUM is his­tor­i­cally close to the par­ties, with its top lead­er­ship — pres­i­dent Sen­zeni Zok­wana and Mr Baleni — on the SACP’s cen­tral com­mit­tee.

The NUM has pro­vided a pow­er­ful plat­form to cat­a­pult the po­lit­i­cal ca­reers of its gen­eral sec­re­taries — for­mer ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Cyril Ramaphosa, cur­rent sec­re­tary­gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe, and ANC deputy pres­i­dent Kgalema Mot­lanthe all held the po­si­tion at one time or an­other.

“If you can run the NUM and lead this com­plex or­gan­i­sa­tion, you are tested in many forms, you have to be a shrewd ad­min­is­tra­tor, you have to be a fi­nan­cial ac­coun­tant, you have to be a le­gal per­son, you have to be a ne­go­tia­tor, you have to be a politi­cian at the same time, so it’s a plat­form that makes you rounded and if you can’t learn in this of­fice, you will never learn,” Mr Baleni said on the side­lines of the congress last week.

A loss for Mr Baleni, and a vic­tory for his chal­lenger Oupa Ko­mane would have been ideal for Mr Vavi, says a union source.

It would have given him con­trol of the big­gest union, al­low­ing him to di­rect Cosatu in his own way, es­pe­cially as they head to­wards the ANC’s lead­er­ship con­fer­ence in De­cem­ber. With Sam Mkokeli

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