Cosatu not a divided house – Numsa

2013-04-24 09:00

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA denied that trade union federation Cosatu is a “divided house”.

“The outcome of the national congress of Cosatu was saying that Cosatu was united,” Numsa president Cedric Gina told reporters yesterday in Johannesburg.

“We think that the provincial shop steward councils, that are (currently) taking place ... still reveal that the members of Cosatu are united.”

Earlier this year there were reports on accusations of corruption against Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. This had reportedly divided Cosatu affiliates.

Earlier this month, there were reports Vavi would be investigated. The decision to start the probe was reportedly taken at a meeting of Cosatu-affiliated union presidents and secretaries.

At last week’s Numsa bargaining conference, Vavi rubbished the reports that he had been involved in impropriety in the sale of Cosatu’s old headquarters in Leyds Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

He accused unnamed leaders in the trade union federation of “treason” for feeding rumours to the media.

Vavi said divisions and back-stabbing had widened rifts and shifted the focus from the main concern of championing the cause of the poor.

Numsa deputy general secretary Karl Cloete yesterday questioned whether Cosatu members shared the feelings of those leaders who seemed to be against Vavi.

“When we talk about the unity and the so-called rupture of it ... there are a few things that I think we should consider,” he said.

“Can we say with confidence that the rank and file of Cosatu shares the sentiments of those leaders who have sought to launch an offensive against the Cosatu general secretary?”

Cloete said Food and Allied Workers’ Union office-bearers had a discussion about what was happening in the union federation.

It proposed holding a special congress to ensure all issues raised at Cosatu’s central executive committee (CEC) were shared and debated with workers.

“After all, the federation is a worker-controlled organisation.”

He said all Numsa’s regions took a “warm approach” to Fawu’s proposal and it was resolved that the union’s 52 branches would discuss it. The discussion would then go to the union’s provincial executive committees who would give the national executive committee (NEC) a mandate.

The NEC is holding a meeting from May 22 to 24.

“We do this because we have too much respect for democratic processes, and we do this on the basis that no leader in any union can make any determination for its own membership when the membership has not discussed the matter,” said Cloete.

During the provincial shop steward councils, which Vavi and Cosatu president Sidumo Dlamini attended, workers reminded them they would not allow the shenanigans taking place in the forum of presidents and general secretaries in the CEC, he said.

During Numsa’s bargaining conference, songs were sung in support of Vavi.

When questioned about the songs, Jim said workers were difficult to control, but had every right to express themselves.

“Why are people concerned about the song that mentions leadership of the federation?” he asked.

“Why can we not read from that that workers are asking a very simple question: ‘Why is it Vavi who is in hot water, when he was elected with the collective leadership?’.”

Jim asked why an individual was being targeted.

“If we are genuine about collective leadership ... we should all be consistent,” he said.

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