Disunion at union central

2013-04-28 10:00

While Vavi is still under fire, Numsa will debate the NDP

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and the ANC will meet this week to thrash out their differences over the National Development Plan (NDP).

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim, who has very vocally opposed the plan, confirmed the meeting.

It comes as trade federation Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi moves to quell public mudslinging within Cosatu by asking unions to end their public calls for a special congress to defend him.

Vavi has been beset by calls from his opponents in Cosatu to oust him from the federation.

These came soon after Vavi became more vocal in his criticism against the plan after President Jacob Zuma endorsed it in his state of the nation address in February.

Some believe Vavi’s criticism of the plan was aimed at garnering him more popular support.

Numsa, one of the biggest unions in the federation, is among those opposing the NDP publicly.

It this week published a cartoon showing the NDP as a DA-inspired document. Planning Minister Trevor Manuel, SACP deputy general secretary Jeremy Cronin and Jim are expected to debate the issue in Sharpeville today.

Meanwhile, Vavi told City Press on Friday he did not want calls for a special conference to detract from an internal hearing into the federation’s unity.

Vavi’s detractors have portrayed this as a probe into his role in the sale of Cosatu’s old headquarters in Braamfontein. Vavi said: “I don’t like the fact that (the calls) are being made at the public level. I’ve written a letter to the unions to say please refrain from taking this matter on to the public platform.”

But he made it clear he was ­irritated this was seen to be “an ­orchestrated campaign” to convict him in a trial by media.

The Food and Allied Workers’ Union has proposed a special ­Cosatu congress to defend Vavi from “humiliation”, and said it would request the matter be tabled at the Cosatu central executive committee meeting next month if six other affiliates supported it.

But a leader of an anti-Vavi union said calls for a congress, when the top leadership is conducting a probe, would undermine the authority of Cosatu’s leadership.

“For me, it’s simple. This matter is going to be resolved internally. If we investigate and find you are wrong, we have to agree you violated the policy, and you are going to leave,” said the union leader.

“(A special conference) is not going to happen. You are going to create more problems. I don’t think calling a conference is helpful,” he said.

The union leader said no such calls for a special conference were made when former federation president Willie Madisha was investigated in 2008, nor in 2011 when incumbent president S’dumo Dlamini was forced to account for his statement at the ANC ­manifesto launch that the federation was giving it a “blank cheque” during the elections.

But Vavi has denied Dlamini faced a probe over those remarks.

He said a small group of “faceless cowards are peddling lies about (Cosatu’s internal) process”.

Divisions among Cosatu unions

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