‘The masses are behind us,’ says KZN’s United Front leader

2014-11-18 00:00

THEMBA Mchunu, devoted Numsa official, wears a broad smile, but the issues he tackles are no laughing matter.

He is one of 15 members on the provincial steering committee of the newly formed United Front movement.

Bent on challenging government on “anti-working class policies”, taking a swipe at Cosatu and determined to give a voice to the working class lies at the heart of the new movement. This also follows in the wake of Numsa’s expulsion from Cosatu.

On Sunday, Mchunu was sitting at the head of the table when the movement was launched in Durban — and judging by the packed room, there was enough curiosity and support to get cracking.

Mchunu’s role at the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) office at Jabulile Ndlovu House, on Che Guevara Road, is to educate shop stewards on issues around labour, legislature, collective agreements as well as echo political issues.

He joined Numsa in 2005 and now he is helping to seemingly steer it away from what was previously considered allies.

And just a day after its launch meeting, the mass movement has received a lashing from Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini.

Cosatu and Numsa have been at loggerheads after Numsa was kicked out of Cosatu. This after a call for the trade union federation to break from the alliance with the ANC and the South African Communist Party (SACP) due to the ruling party’s adoption of the National Development Plan.

Mchunu remains adamant. “Cosatu is shouting at those affiliates sympathising with Numsa instead of looking at the reasons behind it, as tabled at Cosatu’s central executive committee.

“We are aware of the criticism coming from the ruling party and Cosatu, but we are also aware some elite are benefiting from the current neoliberal policies in place.”

He said the movement was confident it could face the harsh criticism, because it had the backing of the masses.

“The United Front was formed on the basis of realising the popcorn organisations exist in communities that have no direction, although they have genuine grievances,” he said.

Speaking about Sunday’s launch, he said Numsa was but a part of the movement.

“The movement is made up of different organisations, political parties and community organisation sharing the same challenges.

“We haven’t elected positions yet; but there will be a rotation system,” Mchunu said.

On reports of the United Front forming a party, Mchunu said no decision had been taken, but they were exploring various options.

“It will be dealt with at next year’s central committee after the findings on the research we are conducting into working class parties are presented.”

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