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Johannesburg - Cosatu second deputy president Zingiswa Losi has vowed that the federation’s unions would never become political parties and “if anyone doesn’t like it, they are free to leave”.
She was speaking in Benoni at the conference of the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu).
“Every affiliate applies for affiliation. No affiliate is ordained – it’s not automatic. There are founding principles and there is a constitution,” she told teachers.
“The question is: do you share the same vision? You can’t dictate the terms when you don’t like it, you have to comply. If you don’t like it, leave, but don’t destroy the federation.”
Her comments come as the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) faces possible suspension or expulsion from Cosatu.
It announced in May its plans to launch a political party to contest the 2016 local government elections.
Losi told Sadtu members Cosatu was proud it had “stood up to those who tried to use the union as a get-rich-quick scheme” – a possible reference to the union’s president, who was dismissed earlier this year amid a raft of graft allegations.
Earlier, SACP Gauteng chairman Joe Mpisi instructed delegates to defend the union against the “Numsa faction” in the Eastern Cape.
“This conference must adopt a special resolution. Sadtu is under attack. The Eastern Cape conference can’t happen because of counter-revolutionary forces,” he said.
“It’s not right that Numsa paid for affiliation fees of other unions. It’s also not right that protesting workers use violence,” he added, referring to the high incidence of violence taking place during the union’s strike in the metals sector.
He said “extreme-left forces and extreme-right forces” were working together to weaken the ANC.
“An ultra-left agenda is as bad as an ultra-right agenda, because you weaken Cosatu under the pretext of the working class strengthening,” said Mpisi.
Losi said some within Cosatu were not happy with the ANC mediation to mend fences in the federation because they believed it would not be favourable to them.
“If they have a problem, they can form their own union and their own federation,” she said.