Vavi and Dlamini factions clash in song

2013-11-04 00:00

DEEP-SEATED divisions within the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) burst into the open in KwaZulu-Natal yesterday when shop stewards from affiliate unions converged at Coastlands Hotel.

The rift became apparent after Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini arrived at the shop stewards’ council when shop stewards — mainly from Sadtu, Popcru and Nehawu — sang a pro-Dlamini song.

Soon, another group of shop stewards, mainly from Numsa, sang a pro-suspended general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi song.

Those in attendance also demonstrated the substitution sign used in soccer, in an apparent show of no-confidence in Dlamini.

When it was Dlamini’s turn to address the council, shop stewards mainly from Popcru and Sadtu led him with a song as he took the podium while others from the Numsa just sat on their chairs.

Dlamini was at times interrupted by shop stewards from Numsa and he even threatened that disruptors would be evicted from the meeting.

The meeting suddenly broke into song and the police came inside to monitor the situation.

This happened as Cosatu was taken to court by some unions after Vavi’s suspension. There are also suspicions that some unionists are likely to break away from the ANC-led alliance.

Yesterday’s rumpus did not go unnoticed, with the ANC and SACP warning about the growing divisions in Cosatu.

SACP second deputy secretary Solly Mapaila said anarchy should be stopped and discipline instilled in Cosatu.

“We have to invest in political and ideological training of our members, Mapaila said.

He also said those who want to leave the alliance should be convinced otherwise and warned that destructive criticism led to tensions.

“Let us unite all the forces of liberation. Our action must be to neutralise our detractors and isolate our enemies,” he added.

ANC provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala said divisions in Cosatu would result in a divided ANC.

“We must be aware of tendencies of disunity especially when they prevail at national level,” he said.

Zikalala reminded the shop stewards about the ANC at the Polokwane conference in 2007 when derogatory songs were sung about leaders and T-shirts bearing faces of certain leaders were burnt.

“It resulted in serious divisions. More important it continued as if it is a norm,” he said.

In his address, Dlamini insisted Cosatu would not split and that it had no crisis.

“I still say there can never be in a split in Cosatu. You begin to engineer a split, it is not gonna work,” he said.

Some union leaders condemned the drama that characterised the earlier part of the council meeting. But, there were differing views on the suspension of Vavi and how the internal processes were handled.

Cosatu secretary Zet Luzipo said a report would be prepared on what happened at the shop stewards’ council to the labour federation’s executive committee meeting.

“It is not going to happen again that some comrades are sitting this side and others sit in that side and when you are sitting you can see the counter action,” Luzipo said.

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