Will Cosatu axe Numsa?

2013-11-17 10:00

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Defiant metal workers’ union Numsa is expected to come under fire at union federation Cosatu’s leadership meeting, which starts tomorrow in Joburg.

There has even been talk about a possible push to expel the union from the federation.

Numsa leaders have been locked in meetings this weekend to prepare for Cosatu’s central executive committee (CEC) indaba.

The union has been a vocal supporter of suspended Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.

It is also the suspected driving force behind the boycotts of Cosatu’s mass action against e-tolling in Gauteng.

This week:

»?In Joburg, workers sang songs in Vavi’s support and shouted down Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini when he addressed them;

»?In Eastern Cape, unions declined to participate in the protest at all; and

»?Numsa in KwaZulu-Natal said it would boycott the protests.

A source from a union opposing Vavi said there will be a push in tomorrow’s CEC to expel Numsa for ill-discipline, although it wasn’t clear which unions would drive this.

SA Democratic Teachers’ Union deputy president Magope Maphila recently told members at a general council that Cosatu would be better off without those who are not working for unity, but general secretary Mugwena Maluleke denied this was meant to push Numsa out.

“We don’t have a decision such as that. People will decide on their own to leave,” said Maluleke.

At its previous CEC in September, Cosatu leaders threatened action against union leaders who publicly opposed the federation’s decision on Vavi.

A CEC member said it was clear that the issue would come up, but said it was not clear whether the committee would seek to expel Cosatu’s biggest affiliate.

“You have to take into account many political dynamics [such as elections]. But many other people are saying they [Numsa] are leaving Cosatu anyway.”

Cosatu’s constitution allows for the CEC to suspend or expel an affiliate for “acting against the interests of the federation”, failing to pay affiliation fees, or failing to attend two consecutive meetings without an acceptable apology.

But it must first allow the affiliate to argue its case.

Another CEC member said it was unlikely that Cosatu leaders would attempt to expel Numsa as there was no basis for it to do so.

The federation could not afford another crisis ahead of an election.

“Leaders can leave on their own if they want to,” said the source.

Another CEC member denied any knowledge of the planned expulsion.

Documents prepared for the three-day meeting show the leadership of Cosatu also wants to discuss Numsa’s decision to suspend the federation’s second deputy president and Numsa shop steward, Zingiswa Losi.

It is not clear what the charges against her were.

Numsa is expected to hold a special congress in Bloemfontein next month, where it will decide whether it will remain an affiliate of the federation, and whether it will support the ANC in next year’s general election.

Meanwhile, City Press understands that a second set of auditors Cosatu unleashed on Vavi and the co-worker he admitted to having had sex with, partly relates to “kickbacks” she allegedly received from a hotel for Cosatu bookings.

A manager at the hotel, who only identified herself as Verushka, yesterday said Cosatu “has been in touch with the [hotel’s] general manager”, but said the allegations related to a former manager.

Dlamini refused to comment, saying he did not want to talk about matters under investigation.

He said the “comrades involved” could use it to discredit the investigations.

Vavi’s spokesperson, John Dludlu, said Vavi had nothing to hide.

“A week ago, he met with the second set of forensic investigators appointed by the federation in as many months. As part of this interaction, he gave them his work laptop and offered to make available two years’ worth of bank statements.”

Vavi is contesting his suspension in court.

Cosatu’s acting general secretary, Bheki Ntshalintshali, alleges in court papers that Vavi failed to hold his co-accused accountable for the use of Cosatu funds.

Vavi has denied any wrongdoing in replying papers and dismissed the allegations as a “smoke screen to try and attempt to keep me suspended”.

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