Port Elizabeth - Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and his National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) counterpart, Irvin Jim, have dismissed reports that say their relationship is taking strain because of the former’s decision to help the ANC election campaign.
The two leaders were speaking during and on the sidelines of the May Day celebrations in Zwide, Port Elizabeth, on Thursday.
Since his suspension was lifted by the Johannesburg High Court, Vavi has expressed support for the ANC at three public engagements.
Numsa has been at loggerheads with the ANC and Cosatu, with threats to establish its own political formation.
Vavi told the crowd of close to 1 000 that his heart was “sore” because of the divisions in the labour movement.
“People want me to make an announcement so you tell workers that they must not vote for the ANC. Notwithstanding all the divisions and decisions taken by the Numsa congress, they must decide whatever they believe is in the interests of their members,” he said.
The adoption of resolutions at its congress did not mean Numsa would overrule the positions of other unions.
“This thing that Vavi has sold out Numsa because it was Numsa supporting him is not right. If I was to do that, that would mean Vavi is not the general secretary of all 19 unions, but the general secretary of one union,” said Vavi.
There would be no unity if people continued to be suspended left, right and centre.
Jim dismissed talk that his relationship with Vavi had turned sour.
“There’s absolutely no such rupture… we are united more than ever before, for obvious reasons. Those who want to dismiss Numsa are, we think, resolute to dismiss Numsa. We think that’s not important. What is important is for us to pursue workers’ interests.”
Delivering the memorial lecture for former Cosatu president John Gomomo in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday, Vavi expressed support for the ANC, but hit out at “greedy billionaires” and the lack of oversight by political heads.
He said a phenomenon that would have not made Gomomo happy was the “continuous importation of greed, survival-of-the-fittest and dog-eat-dog capitalist culture into our movement”.