Johannesburg - Cosatu second deputy president Zingiswa Losi has claimed that even if the federation accedes to demands by some of its affiliates to hold an extraordinary congress, that meeting will not have the power to override previous resolutions.
Some of these resolutions and how they have been implemented have led to a fight for the heart and soul of the federation.
Almost half of Cosatu’s 19 affiliates have been calling for a special national congress since last year to vote for new leaders and a possible change of the federation’s political direction.
Cosatu’s constitution compels the federation’s president to hold a special congress if a third of its affiliates make the request. But nothing has happened so far.
Losi’s assertion that a special congress cannot overturn resolutions taken at a normal Cosatu national congress will increase the already palpable tension in the federation.
She has no constitutional basis to back up her claim as a special national congress is considered a “normal” congress called outside the normal schedule.
This will not be the first time affiliates have gone to battle over the federation’s constitution and its interpretation.
Losi, who was addressing a National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) central committee on Wednesday, used calls for Cosatu to leave the tripartite alliance to make her point. “No special congress can overturn the decisions of a normal congress. You can’t force your resolution on us. We must follow the mandate of the next ordinary congress,” she said.
Losi was taking a swipe at the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), which is facing sanction from Cosatu for not abiding by the federation’s resolutions to support the ANC in the election and poaching members from other affiliates.
She would find it especially difficult to convince Numsa of her argument as the federation held a special congress in December that resulted in its overriding of several previous resolutions.
Losi said to much applause that those who struggled with the concept of democratic centralism should leave Cosatu.
“Once you are affiliated to Cosatu, its constitution binds you. You must leave the church… if you have your own constitution… don’t poison the church.”
Instead of issuing threats to leave the alliance, Cosatu and its alliances should properly assess their methods to pressure the body to be more pro-worker, Losi said.
Numsa has been critical of Cosatu’s relationship with the ANC. It has accused the ruling party of supporting policies which are anti-worker such as not banning labour broking and supporting e-tolls.
Losi warned affiliates they were not in good standing if they only paid their fees. “To be an affiliate in good standing is not only about… monetary terms, but it is to check that you are still aligned to the founding principles of the federation,” she said.
Cosatu is holding back on taking any action against Numsa until the ANC has completed a process to try to broker a peace deal in the federation.