Outspoken National Union of Mineworkers of SA (Numsa) general secretary Irvin Jim has blamed SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande, one of his union’s staunchest critics, for the bad blood between Numsa and the SACP.
He said Nzimande, whom he labelled a “liquidator”, led a campaign to have Numsa expelled from Cosatu.
Jim was addressing the Cape Town Press Club on Tuesday, when he presented Numsa's argument for an “alternative state of the nation” before President Jacob Zuma’s speech on Thursday.
He said the sour relations between Numsa and the SACP could be traced back to the period after the public sector strike two years ago, when workers had said they were not happy with the fact that Nzimande was not with them “in the trenches” and “mass struggles of workers”.
Jim said this was followed by sustained attacks by the SACP which called the Numsa leadership names like “populists” and “demagogues”.
“We are not a leadership of ‘ja baas’, we don’t ask Nzimande what must we think now. It’s supposed to be the other way round. The very same person who taught us, when he was dealing with Thabo Mbeki then, of the dangers of palace politics is now a champion of proper palace politics,” he said.
“He’s defending the state, openly, frankly. Their decision is that Numsa must be expelled – dealt with,” said Jim.
Nzimande’s spokesman Alex Mashilo could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Jim said Numsa would challenge any “cheap” attempt to suspend it from Cosatu and was prepared to take the matter to the courts.
He also dismissed Cosatu’s decision not to convene a special national conference as Numsa had demanded.
“Unfortunately the Cosatu constitution was not crafted in a mass rally. Workers went through a particular process where different unions formed Cosatu with a constitution… We’ve also got courts that protect and intervene when we are out of order,” Jim said.
He said Numsa’s resolutions at its December special congress last year seemed to have made other people “catch the flu”.
It decided against endorsing the ANC’s election campaign, resolved to withhold its contribution to the ruling party’s election campaign and also called on Zuma to resign.
Jim said the bottom line was that Numsa and Cosatu members “are not voting cattle for political parties in this country”.
“Workers are human beings and they must be treated by people, before elections, properly if you want to still continue to enjoy their votes,” he added.
Jim also took a swipe at the ANC, accusing it of “aligning” itself with foreign capital.
He said the party was in cahoots with investors in London, New York and Berlin who did not care about the working class and the poor of South Africa.
“But now our political leadership has aligned itself with the global looters. Our political leadership is no longer able to represent the nation because it has conflict of interest.”