Cosatu second deputy president Zingiswa Losi is pulling out all the stops to keep her job in the federation.
Losi is in the Cosatu faction that wants suspended general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi out, and is at loggerheads with her own union, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA.
It emerged this week that Losi is no longer a Numsa shop steward because she resigned from her job at Ford SA. This means it will be difficult for her to stay on in the Cosatu position.
But, in a surprise move, according to Numsa, Losi is now a shop steward for the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru). Losi has never worked in the police or prisons sectors.
“This demonstrates the level of desperation… How does a union elect a shop steward? Workers are meant to elect a shop steward,” said Numsa president Andrew Chirwa.
Numsa has been gunning for Losi as she has not supported the union’s call for a special national congress nor its call for Vavi’s reinstatement.
Losi’s changed circumstances will only deepen the constitutional quagmire Cosatu finds itself in as a result of the fight over Vavi’s fate. The federation is likely to hold a special central executive meeting (CEC) to decide on her fate.
The next CEC sits in May, but the federation will probably hold an extraordinary meeting to deal with the matter swiftly to avoid any more divisive headaches.
The CEC, which comprises all of Cosatu’s affiliates, will have difficulties deciding if Losi should remain in her position, as Cosatu’s constitution is muddy on the matter.
In the section on the election of national office-bearers (NOBs) it says: “Only shop stewards, elected worker representatives and office-bearers of affiliates in good standing are eligible for election to the positions of president, first deputy president, second deputy president and treasurer.”
But in the section on the removal of NOBs, the constitution does not say elected leaders have to give up their seat if they are no longer a shop steward.
“The NOBs can confirm (Losi has resigned), (and) are discussing the matter, and will give a full report to the next central executive committee meeting,” said Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven.
This is not the first time that Cosatu’s constitution has been found wanting.
Numsa, which accuses Cosatu of being a labour desk of the ANC, is calling for a special national congress as it believes only a fresh mandate from workers, including electing new leaders, can decide the federation’s direction.
Some affiliates have accused Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini of stalling on the issue of a special congress. According to the constitution, the president must convene a special congress “if not less than a third of the affiliates” request it.
This constitutional hurdle was cleared as long ago as September, but the constitution is silent on time frames, which has allowed Dlamini to drag the issue out for six months.
Last month, Cosatu’s CEC said on the matter: “The CEC agreed that the president be given the opportunity to give his final decision at a special CEC.”
Losi refused to comment, saying the matter would be dealt with by the CEC.