Cosatu denies its ‘firm and guarded’ leadership has collapsed post-Vavi

2015-06-03 16:08
Zwelinzima Vavi

Zwelinzima Vavi (Elizabeth Sejake/City Press)

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Johannesburg - The secretariat of Cosatu has not “collapsed” following the departure of the axed general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.

This was the word from the acting president of the National Union of Mineworkers, Piet Matosa, who said Cosatu had “remained firm and guarded” after Vavi’s departure.

Without mentioning Vavi’s name, Matosa said: “It is through [Cosatu leadership’s] resolve that the federation continues to function and the secretariat has not collapsed”.

“This demonstrates that Cosatu does not rely on the cult of personality. The cult of personality promotes the individual above the members,” Matosa said.

He was reiterating statements made by many of Vavi’s detractors, who previously accused him of building a “personality cult and thus sowing divisions” in the embattled federation.

Matosa was addressing delegates today in the first day of the four-day 15th national congress of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which is currently under way in Boksburg.

In his speech, Matosa reminded NUM delegates of the upcoming Cosatu special congress to be held from July 13 to 14 and urged them to “prepare sufficiently” for it as well as the ordinary congress to follow thereafter.

“We must go there to defend this federation so that nobody rises on its carcass,” Matosa said.

Vavi’s axing and the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa’s expulsion from Cosatu were expected to be raised by federation affiliates supporting them in the two gatherings.

Matosa said Numsa should remain outside Cosatu. “They wanted out and nobody was going to stop them from organising across other designated areas that Cosatu had assigned to other unions. No one would stop them from forming a political organisation to rival the ANC,” he said.

The NUM and Numsa have often been at loggerheads, accusing each other of tapping in and organising workers in sectors assigned to one union, thus trampling against Cosatu’s policy of “one sector, one union”.

Meanwhile, Matosa said the NUM was regaining its members that it lost to rival unions. The union was left bleeding in 2012, particularly in the platinum belt, when members left it in droves to join the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) which is led by Joseph Mathunjwa, a former NUM member in Mpumalanga.

Matosa said NUM numbers were rising as members return to the union.

“We do not seek to claim easy victories... but being deserted by members as it happened in 2012 and having them coming back day by day is a victory, and not an easy victory. Those who left us found that democracy was an expensive commodity elsewhere,” he said.

“They will tell you that there is no such thing as financial accountability to members by the rival union. Some have come back and others still fear for their lives if they were to do so openly.”

Meanwhile, the congress currently under way is themed “back to basics, members first”.

The NUM previously blamed the drop of its membership on the union’s disconnection with its members on the ground.

In his speech, Matosa emphasised the importance of “providing and maintaining service to members”.

“Back to basics is not just a statement. It is a call to action to do things right and do right things. It is right to provide representation and defend members against the employer,” he said.

The congress was to be addressed by the ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and Cosatu leader S’dumo Dlamini today. The gathering will end on Saturday, when delegates will leave after electing new leadership for the NUM.
Read more on:    cosatu  |  num  |  zwelinzima vavi

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