Metalworkers’ union Numsa is forging ahead with preparations for an extraordinary special national congress where a decision will be taken on its support for the ANC in next year’s elections.
Also on the agenda will be divisions in Cosatu over suspended general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and a socio-economic strike planned for early next year - just as campaigning for the polls peaks.
The union said yesterday its shopstewards would meet across the country today in 52 local councils to gather the views of its members on the agenda for December’s special national congress.
Its central committee had called for the special congress, despite the next congress only scheduled for 2016, after a “sober analysis” had led to the conclusion that “a lot has happened” since its last ordinary national congress in June last year, Numsa deputy general secretary Karl Cloete said.
The union had “never imagined that a liberation movement like the ANC would adopt a neo-liberal document like the National Development Plan (NDP)”, he added.
It had also not anticipated “a massacre of workers” like Marikana.
“We also could not imagine that our federation - Cosatu - could be so paralysed and incapable of taking forward a single struggle or implementation of its 11th congress resolutions, programmes and campaigns.”
Numsa has claimed in the past that the union federation had been hamstrung by divisions over Vavi, with some in its leadership so focused on his removal that it has been unable to take up the fight against e-tolling and the NDP.
This week, Cosatu and Numsa sent delegations to Parliament to voice their opposition to the government’s proposed youth wage subsidy, but there was no sign of the huge street marches that characterised its previous campaigns against the Protection of State Information Bill and e-tolling.
“What we also did not anticipate was that the president of (South Africa) and who is president of the ANC would sign into law the privatisation of public roads through e-tolling,” Cloete said.
The agenda for the December congress, to be held in Ekurhuleni, included:
l Challenges facing the tripartite alliance between the ANC, SACP and Cosatu.
l Divisions within Cosatu.
l Numsa’s approach to the elections.
l A report on the planned socio-economic strike.
Numsa treasurer general Mphumzi Maqungo has been quoted as saying the central committee had taken the decision to withhold the R2 million the union had budgeted for the ANC’s election campaign, and not to campaign for the party if it included the NDP in its election manifesto, as expected.
The final decision would be taken by the congress in December, he said.
Numsa said yesterday that its members had held shop-floor meetings this week to discuss the issues on the agenda.
“When the union leaders and spokespersons speak, it is sometimes implied or concluded that what these union representatives say are their own views,” said Cloete.
“What we have here is a bottom-up approach, where we are asking our members what they think about the political and socio-economic developments around them.”
After the meeting of the local councils today, the shopstewards would feed the results into regional executive committee meetings to be held next weekend. The Numsa regions would then hold a regional congress next month so that delegations for the special congress would have a mandate.
With 330 000 members, Numsa has overtaken the National Union of Mineworkers to become the biggest Cosatu affiliate. - Saturday Argus