Cosatu congress to elect new leaders and clean house

Johannesburg - The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) will hold its 12th National Congress this week where it will among other things elect new leaders.

The trade union federation has admitted to having a difficult few years.

It has been marred by infighting and divisions between those who support Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini and former general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.

'Dark period'

This had among other things led to the expulsion of Cosatu's biggest affiliate, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), in November last year. At the time of its expulsion the union had 32 000 members.

Cosatu also expelled Vavi in March this year.

The trade union federation has also seen its numbers dwindle by a little more than 300 000.

Earlier this week, acting general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said Cosatu was ready to move out of this "dark period".

Dlamini is expected to keep his position as Cosatu president.

Ntshalintshali is said to be in the running to take the reins permanently as Cosatu's next general secretary.

However, he could face off against second deputy president Zingiswa Losi, who is also said to be in the running for the position.

Leadership contest

According to City Press, Cosatu leaders are worried that a bitter contest between the two could cause further fractures in the federation, something it wants to avoid.

Three people could be in the running for deputy general secretary of Cosatu, according to the newspaper.

They were deputy general secretary of Denosa Oscar Phaka, SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) general secretary Mugwena Maluleke and North West regional secretary Solly Phetoe.

Earlier this week, Dlamini, Ntshalintshali and Losi refused to say whether they had been nominated or even accepted nomination for positions.

Cosatu has said it will use this congress to clean house and deal with the lack of unity within the federation and its affiliates as well as the "weak state" of the alliance between itself and the ANC and the SA Communist Party.

President Jacob Zuma and SA Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande are expected to address the congress on Monday.

The four-day congress will be held at Gallagher Estate in Midrand, Johannesburg.

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