Eastern Cape COSATU breaks rank and sides with Numsa
In a surprise turn of events in the Numsa-Cosatu saga, Cosatu’s Eastern Cape branch on Monday distanced itself from the federation’s weekend’s decision to expel the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa).
A revolt within Cosatu’s ranks is expected to be felt by the embattled federation. Cosatu Eastern Cape has around 500 000 – who constitute almost a quarter of its total membership.
The decision to expel Numsa is divisive and aimed at turning Cosatu into a “sweetheart federation” according to Cosatu Eastern Cape secretary, MacVicar Dyasopu.
“The expulsion of Numsa has no basis. We cannot condone this blatant inconsistency and recklessness aimed at ensuring a sweetheart federation of sweetheart unions contrary to [Cosatu’s] former glory of a militant, socialist, transformative and independent federation,” he said.
Charges against Numsa include allegations that the union poaches members from other unions and that it had a national resolution not to campaign for the African National Congress (ANC) in this year’s general national elections.
Numsa’s response to the charges were not discussed during Friday night’s central executive committee (CEC) meeting. Instead the union’s expulsion was put to a vote.
Cosatu Eastern Cape leaders are expected to meet on Tuesday to deal with the “crisis”.
“We will protect this culture [of militancy] against all odds,” Dyasopu said.
He said the ousting of Numsa, has over 350000 members nationally, was “political suicide” and a “betrayal of the revolution”.
According to Dyasopu, the same faction behind the expulsion of Numsa also wanted Cosatu general-secretary Zwelinzima Vavi’s ousted.
“Some are hellbent on ensuring a split in Cosatu at all costs,” he said.
“We need a special national congress to elect leaders. We need a rigorous and relentless struggle to attack the outrageous neo-liberal agenda on all fronts.”
Meanwhile, seven other unions, representing about 900 000 of the federation’s 2.2million members, also announced on Monday that they have suspended their membership in solidarity with Numsa. Their leaders will be withdrawing from Cosatu for about three weeks while they fight to have Numsa reinstated.
The seven are the SA Commercial Clothing and Allied Workers Union, the Communications Workers Union, Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu), the SA State and Allied Workers Union, the Public and Allied Workers Union of SA, the Democratic Nurses Organisation of SA and the SA Football Players Union.
The unions vowed to return Numsa to the federation and to go to court to force Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini to convene a special national congress.
“There is no Cosatu without Numsa or any other affiliate. With immediate effect, we are suspending our participation and cooperation in Cosatu boardroom/palace politics. It is time to take off the gloves and fight for the federation and save it from those who are willfully plunging it into this unprecedented crisis,” said Fawu general secretary Katishi Masemola.
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