Numsa ‘under attack’ for cutting handouts

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Independent Newspapers

Deputy general secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, Karl Cloete, during its conference. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi

Johannesburg - The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) claims it has donated close on R62 million to the tripartite alliance partners over the past 10 years and it believes it is coming under attack from various sectors for cutting its handouts.

In a breakdown seen by Independent Newspapers, Cosatu has been the largest beneficiary of the funding, receiving more than R54m between 2003 and 2013. A Numsa insider says this amount does not include affiliation fees.

The ANC has been given more than R4m and the SACP more than R1.8m. Numsa has also donated more than R1.7m to Cosatu’s political fund.

Both the ANC and the SACP are no longer receiving donations from Numsa. In December the union decided to cut off funds to the ruling party ahead of the general elections last month.

Some within Numsa, Cosatu and the SACP have accused the union of paying for the affiliation fees of other Cosatu affiliates as part of its strategy to gain support for resolutions which pit it against the federation.

But Numsa has repeatedly denied the allegations, saying it is a long-standing practice among Cosatu affiliates to help others financially.

Although during an interview earlier this month Numsa deputy general secretary Karl Cloete did admit that his union had not loaned money to affiliates not viewed as allies, he said it was because none of them had approached Numsa for help.

“We have done a calculation of Numsa financial support for the MDM (mass democratic movement) structures, SACP and ANC since 2003 to 2013 and it is a gigantic R616 970 500.

“Why (did) Cedric Gina and/or his cohorts not complain about this, or are they unhappy because the Numsa special national congress had turned off money?” Numsa’s national office bearers asked in an open letter this week in reaction to attacks from its detractors, which it has dubbed the Group of 36.

Numsa’s former president, Cedric Gina, has been linked to the group. Thirty-six of its members, which comprise former and current Numsa members, held its first meeting in Benoni in May.

The national office bearers said the financial support given to other unions and the tripartite alliance partners were with the express blessing of Numsa’s structures. They are now calling on Numsa’s detractors to report any financial wrongdoing to the relevant authorities.

“As elected leadership, we are asking a simple question: if our enemies have confidence that we are stealing from Numsa members or misappropriating union finances, why have they not gone to the public protector, SAPS, Hawks or Sars to present evidence of wrongdoing?

“Why have the real constitution structures of Numsa not brought any of these claims to the higher constitutional structures of Numsa? In our view the answer is self-evident.”

Numsa is facing expulsion from Cosatu for not supporting the ANC during the elections. The federation is also ticked off at its largest affiliate for poaching members from its other affiliates, which goes against a Cosatu resolution to have one union in one industry.

In the latest accusations, the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) alleges that Numsa, which some of its members have joined, is perpetrating violence against its members at the Port of Ngqura outside Port Elizabeth. Workers at the port have been on strike for two months.

Cosatu was meant to meet Satawu and Numsa earlier this month over poaching, but the federation’s president, S’dumo Dlamini, said yesterday the transport union never pitched up.

Cosatu is attempting to arrange another meeting. Numsa is talking to its attorneys for advice on Satawu’s allegations.

The fight between Satawu and Numsa will only make the ANC’s job of trying to mediate a peace deal in Cosatu more difficult. The party has until the end of the month to meet all of Cosatu’s affiliates and make recommendations to the federation.

Cosatu’s affiliates agreed to cease hostilities for the month, but Dlamini said it was expected that not everyone would play ball, adding

Cosatu had threatened to call a special central executive committee meeting to deal with those not abiding by the agreement. However, so far nothing had happened.

Dlamini said

a sub-committee of the ANC task team and Cosatu deputy general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali had not received complaints about alleged violations of the deal.

 

Although the ANC will present a packaged deal on how to unify Cosatu, the federation has said it is under no obligation to give it the thumbs up. It will include taking a collective view on a call for a special national congress by nearly half of Cosatu’s affiliates to bring about peace, as well as addressing disciplinary processes currently under way in the federation.

Sunday Independent


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