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Numsa, Cosatu’s biggest affiliate, has given Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini and the federation’s top leadership an ultimatum: convene a special congress urgently, or face the wrath of the workers.
The metalworkers, the leading supporters of embattled Cosatu boss Zwelinzima Vavi, have warned of declaring a vote of no confidence in the Cosatu top leadership.
The ultimatum comes as Numsa’s local structure suspends Cosatu’s second deputy president, Zingiswa Losi, who is Dlamini’s close ally.
In a letter addressed to Cosatu officials, which The Sunday Independent has seen, Numsa criticised Dlamini and the federation’s officials for creating the impression that requests for a special congress were not accompanied by an agenda for the gathering.
Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim charged that it was “disingenuous” and “dishonest” for Cosatu officials to claim that letters asking for a special congress did not outline the purpose of the meeting.
Jim also charged that, should Dlamini and the Cosatu leadership ignore the requests for a special congress, “alternative routes may have to be considered”.
Numsa wants the special congress to be convened on or before November 30, the date on which Dlamini should report to the federation on the requests, having considered the timing, resources and state of affiliates for such a gathering.
Numsa contends that at least five affiliates of Cosatu requesting a special congress have put forward an agenda for the meeting.
In its request, Numsa’s proposed agenda includes the election of new Cosatu officials and the review of one of the federation’s resolutions taken at its last congress in September last year.
“It is unfortunate, however, that, as per the utterances by the national office-bearers of Cosatu in a press conference held on 19 September 2013, the picture has been depicted that somehow no agenda for the purpose of the Cosatu special congress has been put forward… This is disingenuous and dishonest, to say the least,” he said.
“We must further warn that, should the national office-bearers continue on this current path, this will tend to convince the membership of the federation and the public at large that the current national office-bearers do not have the commitment to the resolutions of the 11th congress, its reporting and decision-making structures.
“In consequence, it is our real fear that, should the special congress not be convened as urgently required, members may ultimately lose all confidence in the current national office-bearers,” he said.
The Sunday Independent reported last week that Dlamini was still processing the requests.
This comes after it emerged that Dlamini was set to tell the federation’s central executive committee meeting in November that the organisation does not have money to convene such a meeting.
One of Cosatu’s biggest affiliates, the National Union of Mineworkers, has already indicated that it has not budgeted for such an event.
Last Sunday, Dlamini told a gathering in Durban that he had informed those requesting a special congress that the federation would convene a congress in 2015.
Dlamini added at the commemoration of the late SACP member Smiso Nkwanyama that no affiliate had stated that the special congress should be about Vavi.
Vavi’s supporters hope that a special congress will save his political career amid a strong push to have him ousted. But it is believed that Numsa wants to use the meeting to remove Dlamini, Losi and Bheki Ntshalintshali, Cosatu’s deputy general secretary.
Ntshalintshali referred questions to Dlamini, who could not be reached for comment.
Numsa spokesman Castro Ngobese refused to comment.
However, Numsa treasurer Mphumzi Maqungo confirmed that they had received a letter of suspension of Losi from its Port Elizabeth office, where she works.
“As a collective leadership, we will be meeting to look at the issue,” he said.
Losi said neither she nor Cosatu had received the letter.
“In the absence of that, I continue to serve as Cosatu’s second deputy president,” she said.
Cosatu insiders said the federation was soon to wrap up its investigation into Vavi’s sexual encounter with a junior staffer, the outcome of which is likely to result in the organisation officially hauling him before a disciplinary hearing. - The Sunday Independent