Cosatu still ‘too divided’ for special congress

2014-08-13 13:25

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Cosatu office bearers have not ruled out the possibility of holding a special national congress, but the labour federation is so divided at the moment that it could lead to a split.

The conference was called for by unions unhappy with the expulsion of general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi but his deputy, Bheki Ntshalintshali, said the purpose of such a congress should be “to rebuild unity and internal cohesion”.

Addressing journalists on its recent central executive committee meeting at Cosatu House in Braamfontein this afternoon, Ntshalintshali said Cosatu’s office bearers recognised the “right for calling for a special national congress” but this should be “exercised with care”.

Such a call should be “informed by clear intended outcomes and take into consideration all factors such as costs, logistics, et cetera”.

He said affiliates were still divided about a special congress.

“There is recognition that the current request for a special national congress is perceived differently by affiliates and has created divisions, and that may lead to a split in Cosatu.”

Ntshalintshali said the outcome of the disciplinary process against Vavi and the employee he had sex with in the office, as well as other internal processes in Cosatu, would play a role in when the congress would be held, and what its agenda and purpose would be.

Cosatu’s central executive committee meeting included a report from the ANC task team set up to mediate the differences between Cosatu’s affiliates.

Ntshalintshali said the task team “accepted that there would always be different opinions in a federation as large as Cosatu but that these had to be skilfully managed by the (national office bearers)”.

He said the autonomy of affiliates needed to be respected, provided that they acted within the Cosatu constitution.

He said the meeting didn’t discuss threats by metalworkers union Numsa to break away from Cosatu.

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