THE Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is a ‘ticking bomb’ waiting to explode, National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) deputy general secretary Karl Cloete has warned.
He was speaking last Wednesday following the COSATU special national congress last Monday and Tuesday that confirmed the expulsion of NUMSA and the sacking of COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. Cloete said that ‘COSATU was on its knees’ and announced a workers’ summit will be held to discuss plans to form a new labour federation.
Cloete lashed out at COSATU president S’dumo Dlamini, accusing them of flouting the labour giant’s constitution. The NUMSA deputy general secretary said: ‘The congress failed to achieve its mandate because the issue of NUMSA and Vavi was not addressed.’
Supporters of NUMSA and Vavi say efforts to hold a successful congress have not been achieved.
The affiliates supporting NUMSA said in a statement: ‘We have attempted to participate in the debates from the beginning to the end in this congress. We have refused to be personal even in the face of sheer provocation including unfounded allegations that we were to provide drugs and alcohol to delegates.’
The nine unions also accused the ANC of ‘tacitly’ accepting the dismissal of NUMSA. Their statement said: ‘There has been an inability to protect the independence of COSATU by allowing leaders of alliance partners to attack and criticise other leaders. This combined with a failure to address the chronic corruption, purges and gangsterism taking place in some affiliates points to a movement in a crisis.’
The NUMSA-supporting unions intend to convene special national executive committee meetings to map the way forward. NUMSA issued the following statement on the eve of the COSATU National Special Congress:
‘There comes a time in the life of the working class when it becomes absolutely essential and necessary to separate the wolves from their shepherds. In COSATU, that time has arrived in the COSATU Special National Congress starting tomorrow, the 13th of July and scheduled to end the next day, the 14th of July 2015.
‘The wolves, in the guise of S’dumo Dlamini and his friends, want to lead COSATU to the slaughterhouse – in the working class killing fields of the right-wing leaders of the ANC and SACP!
‘In COSATU’s Special National Congress (SNC) taking place this week, we will make a bold and humble appeal to the delegates across all unions to advance an agenda that seeks to unify and strengthen the unity of the working class and build genuine organisations of the working class.
‘Any agenda that seeks to legitimise the status quo will be tantamount to handing over the Federation on a silver platter to our class enemies. It is the full COSATU constitutional and democratic right of all the delegates to this Congress to demand that any matter they so deem fit be included in the Agenda of the Congress, and to demand full and proper debates on the expulsion of NUMSA and the removal from office of COSATU General Secretary, Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi.
‘COSATU is not the private political vehicle of S’dumo and his friends and backers in the ANC and SACP. COSATU belongs to all the members of all its affiliates. The delegates at this Congress represent all the members of affiliates of COSATU!’
On ‘S’dumo and Company’s endeavours to preside over a feel good and praise singing Special National Congress (SNC)’ NUMSA added:
‘S’dumo and his friends will try everything possible to smooth over the fact that they are, very cheaply, handing over the Federation to the right-wing leadership of the ANC/SACP and its neoliberal capitalist government, so that their capitalist bosses can continue and intensify their assaults on the working class and the poor of this country.
‘The Nine Unions which called for the Special National Congress (SNC) did so on the basis that:
• Since the 11th National Congress of COSATU, held in September 2012, not a single resolution adopted by this workers’ parliament had been carried out. Instead palace politics gripped and detained the once mighty COSATU in a small boardroom of the Central Executive Committee (CEC) away from the owners of the federation who demanded their own Lula Moment and the radical implementation of the Freedom Charter;
• The March 2013 COSATU Organising, Campaigns and Collective Bargaining resolutions gathered dust with COSATU unable to coordinate the living campaigns of its affiliates, unable to campaign against the Eskom tariff hike, unable to defeat the introduction and operation of the e-tolls, unable to push for the implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI), unable to challenge the neo-liberal National Budgets since 2013 and unable to challenge the impending privatisation of state-owned entities.
• Inconsistent, undemocratic, Stalinist and unconstitutional practices that became a hallmark in COSATU and some of its affiliates which include the purging, unlawful suspensions and expulsions.
‘In NUMSA, we are clear that COSATU’s Special National Congress (SNC) agenda as it stands does not seriously address the paralysis that is threatening the impending implosion of this once powerful giant. Unity, Cohesion and a change in the leadership (COSATU’s National Office Bearers) are issues that the one-third of COSATU affiliates constitutionally requisitioned the SNC for.
We reject with contempt:
• NUMSA’s exclusion from the SNC when we were one of the unions that called for this important workers’ parliament;
• A whole day of Alliance speeches on 13th July 2015 with very few hours left on the second day to talk to the real issues the SNC was called for … ”We request that every delegate in this Congress boldly and freely demand that NUMSA be returned and Comrade Zweli reinstated in his position. Anything short of this will see the end of COSATU. Kindly also remember that if S’dumo and his friends and backers in the ANC and SACP can do what they have done to NUMSA and Zweli, and get away with it, they can always repeat this to any affiliate and leader of COSATU! YOU MAY BE NEXT!
‘We reject the bogus and baseless allegations made both by S’dumo Dlamini and charlatan Zingiswa Losi, that NUMSA has set aside funds intended to disrupt the proceedings of the Special National Congress (SNC). We view these allegations as part of a moronic ploy to send false alarm bells and to influence delegates to rubber-stamp the reactionary decision to expel more than 365,000 workers from the Federation they helped found and develop, and to confirm the expulsion of properly and popularly elected General Secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi.
‘Furthermore, it’s intended to insulate the current leadership faction in COSATU from its failures to implement the 11th National Congress resolutions, including the programme of action adopted by the Collective Bargaining and Campaigns Conference.’
‘All shop stewards attending the SNC must feel insulted and disrespected by S’dumo’s claim that moneys are set aside to buy the loyalty of delegates with alcohol and drugs. Stooping so low, and insinuating that money and drugs can buy COSATU shop stewards must be a clear sign of desperation and panic which in and of itself justifies a vote of no confidence in such reckless leadership.’