Cosatu leaders who want metal workers’ union Numsa expelled from the federation along with general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi have been described as gangsters, thugs and illegitimate comrades.
The nine Cosatu affiliates that have rallied around Numsa and Vavi – ahead of a crucial meeting of Cosatu’s central executive committee on Friday where the fate of the two could be decided – have come out guns blazing, calling the impending action illegal and unconstitutional.
Numsa president Andrew Chirwa led the attack on his union’s detractors at a press conference held by the nine affiliates at the Birchwood conference centre in Boksburg. He said Cosatu’s central executive committee – which is dominated by anti-Numsa and anti-Vavi leaders – was a gathering of gangsters who use their majority to force their view on others.
“Cosatu central executive committee has been reduced to nothing else but a meeting of gangsters in which the most violent grouping of gangsters dominate and wins the day.”
He said those who were dominant in the Cosatu central executive committee were advancing their own agenda and not that of the members in general.
“What do the gangsters do? They use the central executive committee to advance their own agenda without any mandate at all. We are saying the fate of Cosatu … let it be decided by members themselves because the central executive committee of Cosatu is incapable. Why must we leave Cosatu in the hands of thugs?” asked Chirwa.
Numsa has filed an urgent court interdict to stop Cosatu from holding its central executive committee meeting on Friday. It also wants to force the federation to convene a special national conference where the issue of who leads Cosatu can be decided once and for all. The affiliates that support Numsa also back the call for a special national conference and have vowed to fight those who want to get rid of Vavi.
Karl Cloete, Numsa’s deputy general secretary, equated meetings of the federation’s central executive committee to shebeen gatherings.
“Cosatu has been turned into a tavern without rules. There are no rules as if there is no constitution. Do you know how painful it is to sit in a central executive committee where people flout the constitution? It feels like being in a shebeen without order,” he said.
Simphiwe Gada, Gauteng secretary of nursing union Denosa, said they would not sit idly and watch Cosatu being destroyed by those bent on flouting its constitution and imposing their views.
“People must not be allowed to destroy the federation. Cosatu must exist and continue to exist,” said Gada.