Still a chance for Cosatu special congress – and for Numsa

2014-02-27 14:37

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Metalworkers union Numsa has been given a temporary reprieve by Cosatu leaders, and have until next week to explain why the union should not be expelled from Cosatu.

The labour federation wrote to Numsa earlier this month asking the union, which is at odds with Cosatu leaders over the suspension of Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and electoral support for the ANC, to explain itself in writing.

Acting Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said a special meeting of the Cosatu central executive committee (CEC) would be convened to discuss Numsa’s response.

In the same meeting, Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini is expected to table his decision on whether or not Cosatu should hold a special congress in line with a request from nine affiliates that have requested it.

The Cosatu CEC has already decided that no special congress should be held for financial and logistical reasons.

But in an about-turn, the CEC has decided that Dlamini should still make up his mind about the request in line with Cosatu’s constitution. The constitution prescribes that a special convenor should be elected to hold the congress if the president of the federation fails to heed the request from a third of the affiliates.

Provincial Cosatu structures in provinces like Gauteng and the Eastern Cape have openly defied the national leadership over Vavi, who is now facing internal disciplinary action following his admission that he had had sex with a subordinate at work.

Ntshalintshali said the CEC had called on the national leaders of Cosatu to explain to “provincial leaders and members what their role is – that Cosatu is not a federal structure and that national decisions are binding on all”.

However, Dlamini has denied that the federation is now split down the middle and paralysed by the Vavi crisis.

He said Cosatu was not at peace with itself, but denied that this has had translated into open divisions.

“In August 2013 you people said Cosatu had reached its demise. The split that had long been prophesied would have happened by December ... That did not happen.

“We are on top of the situation to face these challenges that are confronting us. The message and the narrative going forward (is that) Cosatu is like a giant elephant that has ticks biting it. It goes on and on. Sometimes it runs faster. It emerges at the end as a stronger federation,” Dlamini said.

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