Vavi leaving Cosatu would be logical – analyst

2014-11-08 16:06

It would be a logical step for Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi to leave Cosatu, political analyst Richard Pithouse has said.

Before his suspension last year after having an affair with a junior employee, Vavi was a primary critic of President Jacob Zuma, while the labour federation’s president S’dumo Dlamini was known for being pro-Zuma, he said.

“... So I don’t think it could be possible for them to work together. It would make sense for Vavi to throw his weight behind Numsa.”

Asked about the likelihood of Vavi leaving Cosatu, Pithouse said: “It is a logical step”.

Earlier, Vavi tweeted “Guillotine of +350 000 workers is a game changer & will have profound political and organisational implications – what is to be done?”

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) had about 350 000 members, representing almost 16% of Cosatu’s membership of 2.2 million.

Pithouse said Vavi was clearly aligning himself with Numsa in the tweet.

The union’s expulsion during a special central executive committee sitting yesterday signified a real change in South African politics, Pithouse said.

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim confirmed the expulsion today.

“Yes, Numsa has been expelled,” he said in an SMS.

Pithouse said the expulsion was part of a steady breakdown of the ANC’s power.

“No one saw what the consequences would be. The ANC’s power is being reduced, it is fracturing in Parliament, in the communities and with political parties.”

This was reflected in the number of service delivery protests happening across the country and the formation of the Economic Freedom Fighters.

Pithouse said Numsa would manage outside the ANC coalition.

“Numsa is a very big union with a lot of members and a lot of resources. It will definitely be able to stand on its own.”

He said unions such as the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, which broke away from the Cosatu-affiliated National Union of Mineworkers had also managed to do well, outside the ANC and Cosatu.

The real question was whether Numsa’s decision to launch the United Front in December this year would be a success.

The launch of the United Front had been a subject of discussion at Cosatu for many years, he told reporters.

Whether or not the United Front would succeed, depended on whether the union could make a real connection with different struggles of the people in South Africa, Pithouse said.

“If they connect with people on the ground it could work, not with NGOs.”

He said there was a concern that Numsa only talked about the interests of the working class when so many South Africans were unemployed.

“Numsa will have to broaden its conception.”

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