Numsa delays special congress

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Independent Newspapers

File photo: From left, Numsa president Cedric Gina, deputy president Andrew Chirwa, deputy general secretary Karl Cloete and regional secretary Jacob Xilongo are seen during a media briefing at the Numsa offices in Newtown. File photo: Tiro Ramatlhatse

Johannesburg - Trade union Numsa has decided to delay its special national congress during the national mourning period for struggle icon Nelson Mandela.

“In honour of this giant of our liberation struggle, and in recognition and respect of our country's...10 day period of national mourning and the eventual burial of President Mandela on the 15th of December, Numsa has postponed its special national congress,” spokesman Castro Ngobese said in a statement on Sunday.

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA will now hold its conference in Boksburg from December 17 to 20. Previously it was due to be held from December 13 to 16.

Ngobese said the union wanted to mourn Mandela, whom he described as a “freedom fighter, political prisoner, people’s hero, people’s servant, leader of our people, and founding father of our post 1994 democratic dispensation”.

In October, Numsa deputy general secretary Karl Cloete said in a statement: “The central committee decided to call for a special national congress after a sober analysis that led to a conclusion that a lot has happened since our last ordinary national congress in June 2012”.

On the agenda are problems facing the alliance between the African National Congress, trade union federation the Congress of SA Trade Unions, and the SA Communist Party.

The congress would discuss, among other things, the divisions within Cosatu, and Numsa's approach to next year's elections.

This week, Numsa was at the centre of controversy after SA Communist Party deputy secretary Solly Mapaila accused Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim of wanting to take control of Cosatu.

Numsa is a Cosatu affiliate.

Mapaila said Jim had hoped to take over from Zwelinzima Vavi as general secretary of Cosatu, if Vavi was appointed ANC deputy president.

Vavi was placed on special leave in August for having an affair with a junior employee.

Nine of Cosatu's 19 affiliates subsequently called for a special national congress. However, its president Sidumo Dlamini said Vavi did not feature in their reasons for calling for the special congress.

Numsa has lodged an application in the High Court in Johannesburg challenging Vavi's suspension. Cosatu has asked it to withdraw the action.

Vavi has lodged papers asking to be added as an applicant. He wants final relief to review and set aside the decision to suspend him.

Last month, Numsa confirmed it was debating whether to leave Cosatu, which would in effect mean leaving Cosatu's tripartite alliance with the ANC and the SACP.

Jim said Numsa was being isolated by the ANC and the SACP after coming to Vavi's defence. Cosatu has resolved to probe Numsa's conduct. - Sapa

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