Shift in balance of power

2014-11-11 00:00

THE infighting in South Africa’s unions is causing tremors that can yet develop into a quake in South Africa’s ruling party.

After Cosatu’s executive suspended Numsa in the early hours of Saturday morning by 33 votes to 24, seven unions yesterday vowed to fight for its ousting to be reversed.

“We are fighting for the soul of our own federation … which is Cosatu,” Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) president Atwell Nazo told reporters in Johannesburg.

Numsa said it will meet tomorrow with its provincial leaders to decide whether to apply to a court to reverse the decision.

The union has an excellent chance to have its ousting reversed, but it will only decide later if it will apply to a court to do so. The application will rest on the fact that the powers of Cosatu’s central executive committee (CEC) officially lapsed over a year ago.

Cosatu’s CEC is made up of general secretaries and presidents of affiliates and the trade union federation’s national office bearers and, in terms of Cosatu’s regulations, it had to hold a special congress last year to replace the members of the CEC.

The seven unions that support Numsa after its expulsion from Cosatu yesterday announced they will immediately suspend their participation in the CEC and demanded the long overdue special congress be held.

Democratic Nurses’ Organisation of SA (Denosa) general secretary Simphiwe Gada said the suspension would last until each union held either a national executive committee or CEC meeting where they would get mandates from their members on the way forward.

“We must fight this Ebola in Cosatu,” Gada said.

In terms of Cosatu’s constitution, its president S’dumo Dlamini is supposed to organise the special congress, but Dlamini and his CEC are refusing to obey this stipulation.

Cosatu general secretary Gwede Mantashe yesterday defended this refusal and said a special congress was not the means to settle differences with Numsa. He said Cosatu could not call a special congress as it would divide the organisation and the “worst thing to do under the circumstances” was to test the might of the opposing factions in a special congress as it would destroy the federation of unions. He did however support a congress without Numsa, as this would repair unity.

Fawu general secretary Katishi Masemola said the unions supporting Numsa were not prepared to allow the “paralysis” to continue.

The seven unions believed Numsa had been victimised and treated unfairly by Cosatu’s leadership.

“We are renewing our calls for a special national congress believing it to be the only way of dealing with the degeneration of the federation.”

Masemola said the unions would mobilise workers around the country to demand that the special national congress be held and would also pursue the matter in court.

• Meanwhile Zwelinzima Vavi, Cosatu’s beleaguered general secretary, will reportedly also make a dramatic announcement tomorrow over this issue, which is threatening to shift the balance of power in the ruling ANC party.

Persistent rumours have been doing the rounds since Friday that Vavi will resign because it is a fait accompli that the Zuma supporters in Cosatu will get rid of him at the first opportunity.

But a senior source yesterday cautioned that the rumours may be wrong. “Don’t be too sure that Vavi will resign. There are other possibilities, but he will definitely make an important announcement tomorrow,” the source in the alliance said last night.

The seven unions behind Numsa:

• Communication Workers’ Union (CWU),

• Democratic Nurses’ Organisation of SA (Denosa)

• Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu)

• Public and Allied Workers Union of SA (Pawusa),

• SA Commercial Clothing and Allied Workers’ Union (Saccawu)

• SA State and Allied Workers’ Union (Sasawu),

• SA Football Players’ Union (Safpu).

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