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Battleground 2016 Part 1: ANC Nelson Mandela Bay Needs NUMSA back

Battleground 2016 Part 1: ANC Nelson Mandela Bay Needs NUMSA back

The Nelson Mandela Bay region of the African National Congress(ANC) in the Eastern Cape is reportedly making efforts to dowse fires following disagreements within the Tripartite Alliance following last weekend’s expulsion of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).

On Thursday, ANC regional secretary Zandisile Qupe said that “no organisation would say it is not worried when it loses the vote of a traditional ally”.

Understandably so, the Nelson Mandela Bay is home to South Africa’s automotive industry and where NUMSA is the majority union among the workers. So its expulsion from the Tripartite Alliance will no doubt affect the ANC in the upcoming 2016 local government elections.

The ANC would need NUMSA brought back in the fold especially after the union has hinted on forming a new civil society movement called the United Front to contest in the 2016 elections.

At a press conference, following its expulsion, NUMSA, said that the United Front will be launched on December 14 and structures have already been formed in the Eastern Cape.

2011 local government elections

In the last local government elections, held in 2011, the ANC won control of Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality by the teeth.

Observers have noted that without NUMSA’s support, the margin the ANC enjoyed in those elections could be eroded leaving it vulnerable to the Democratic Alliance (DA) which is hoping to unseat the ANC in the Bay in less than 18 months from now.

The ANC in the Nelson Mandela Bay itself is no stranger to internal divisions.


The ANC’s effort to bring back NUMSA will not be easy. At its press conference, just after its expulsion, NUMSA blamed leaders of the ANC – in particular Gwede Mantashe, and the South African Communist Party (SACP) for pursuing a divisive agenda against it.

In Durban, NUMSA, the Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU), the Democratic Nurses Organisation of SA (DENOSA) and the Public and Allied Workers Union of SA (PAWUSA) have also blamed ANC and SACP leaders for being behind the newly-formed rival Metal and Allied Workers Union of SA (MAWUSA) which is under the guidance of former NUMSA President Cedric Gina.

NUMSA pointed to the “speedy” manner that MAWUSA was registered and got its operating papers from the Department of Labour as suspicious – adding to speculation that MAWUSA may replace it in COSATU.

Still, during campaigning for the May National Elections, NUMSA stayed on the side-lines and did not campaign for the ANC – which was part of the reasons why it was expelled.

Broken ranks

On Monday, COSATU Eastern Cape provincial secretary MacVicar Dyasopu distanced his office from the COSATU Central Executive Committee decision to expel NUMSA saying it was “without a mandate”, was reckless and aimed at creating a “sweetheart union”. COSATU Eastern Cape is calling for a special congress along with other federation members.

However, Eastern Cape Police, Prisons and Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) Chairman Loyiso Mdingi said Dyasopu had no mandate to speak for POPCRU which is supporting NUMSA’s expulsion.

The Eastern Cape chapters of the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) are also not agreeing on the expulsion of NUMSA. SAMWU is standing by NUMSA while NUM is siding with the COSATU Exec Committee.

According to the Daily Dispatch, five out of six South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) regions, with the exception of Butterworth, have joined the NUMSA camp.

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Read more: Battleground 2016 Part 2: Why The Da Nelson Mandela Bay Walked Out Of A Council Meeting

Read more: NUMSA Expulsion Fallout: Eastern Cape Unions Divided

Read more: Eastern Cape Cosatu Breaks Rank And Sides With NUMSA.

Image: DailyMaverick.