Johannesburg - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has taken its gloves off and demanded that Cosatu take a hardline stance against the rebel National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa).
In the political section of a secretariat report to be discussed at a top-level NUM meeting, the union stops short of calling for Numsa’s expulsion, but warns if Numsa continues to ride roughshod, it will further destabilise South Africa’s largest union federation.
The NUM and Numsa have found themselves on different sides of the battlefield in Cosatu. Numsa is facing expulsion for not supporting the ANC in the general elections and for poaching members from other Cosatu affiliates.
The political report argues that Numsa has violated Cosatu’s resolutions from its last congress, and this alone should push the federation into taking action.
It also accuses its sister affiliate of a “concerted effort to isolate certain Cosatu leaders and weaken them through anarchy”.
The report cites an example of Numsa deputy general secretary Karl Cloete allegedly referring to Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini as a “tsotsi” at a Numsa political school.
It also mentions Dlamini and former NUM president Senzeni Zokwana being stopped from addressing certain Cosatu meetings earlier this year by unionists who are supporters of Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.
“Cosatu needs to take a hardline stance to root this out within the federation if it has to renew itself. We can’t allow this modus operandi of vigilante unionism to be part and parcel of our practices while we condemn the same when it is done in the platinum sector where workers cannot express themselves freely except in the presence of police.”
It goes on to accuse Numsa of “auto immunity disorder” because it says it has weakened Cosatu’s structures by attacking the federation within and outside.
The report is the most scathing the NUM has been so far in a public space against Numsa. It is further proof that current attempts by the ANC to broker a peace deal in Cosatu are likely to fail.
NUM general secretary Frans Baleni spoke frankly of a possible split in Cosatu earlier this week.
“I don’t know what else has not been tried to get Numsa on our side. It is impossible to engage Numsa (leadership); they refuse to budge. They forget politics is a social science,” he told Independent Newspapers in an interview.
He said a revolutionary organisation should be able to split and later regroup to strengthen the fight for the working class.