No surprise if Numsa split

2014-07-07 00:00

A SPLIT in National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) would come as no surprise in light of divisions in the union and the ANC-led alliance.

This is the view expressed by two political analysts after KwaZulu-Natal National Union of Metalworkers regional secretary Mbuso Ngubane accused former and current members of wanting to establish a splinter union.

Independent political analyst Protas Madlala said: “There is obviously a cold war between Numsa, the ANC alliance and Cosatu. In any war, the first casualty is the truth.”

Madlala said accusations and counter-accusations were bound to happen and any talk of a split could not be dismissed.

“I would think the ANC is concerned and would love to split Numsa. If they don’t, they would be stupid,” he said.

“Even Numsa agreed that the Freedom Charter has been shelved and the poor have been betrayed,” Madlala added.

Professor Adam Habib said claims of a possible splinter union were not surprising, given that Cosatu and Numsa were divided.

“It is a matter of time when it takes place, but it depends on how strong it [the breakaway group] is and how many people they take.”

Madlala and Habib were reacting to statements made by Ngubane that some SACP, ANC and Cosatu leaders wanted to destabilise Numsa by influencing union structures to pass a vote of no confidence against the leaders.

“We know they have a plan B to establish a splinter union. The former president [Cedric Gcina] and some shop stewards are to occupy leadership positions there,” he said.

“The ANC is not happy that Numsa may not endorse any political party in 2016. It [ the splinter union] will give an opportunity to deliver Numsa to the ANC,” Ngubane said in an interview with The Witness last week.

His comments came after Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim told union members last week that they were aware of plans to bus people to their march and disrupt it if he said anti-ANC things.

This followed recent reports that former and current Numsa members had gathered at a hotel in Benoni, Gauteng.

Gcina, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, was fingered as one of those who attended the meeting that was followed by an open letter questioning Numsa in financing other unions within Cosatu.

Last Monday, Numsa said it was not shaken by the work of what it called a Benoni Project of aggrieved people who would fight the resolutions taken at their Numsa special national congress in December.

At its special congress, Numsa had taken a resolution not to back any political party in the last general elections, decided to form a united front, a platform to engage civil society and investigate possibility of establishing a labour party.

Yesterday, ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza said Ngubane’s statements were misleading and unfounded.

“We believe the current situation in Cosatu and the affiliates is weakening the unions. The ANC can’t be contributing to that,” Khoza said.

Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said: “This is one of the issues under discussion by the ANC-led task team. I am unable to comment.”

SACP’s spokesperson Alex Mashilo could not be reached for comment.

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