Johannesburg - Cosatu badmouthed suspended general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and renegade affiliate the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) at a gathering in Matlosana (Klerksdorp), North West, on Sunday.
The scheduled “workers’ festival of ideas”, a joint effort by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Cosatu and the ANC, drew no input from any of the workers – only the leaders – reducing it to another campaign stop of the ANC election machine.
In an item titled “unity and discipline in defence of Cosatu”, the federation’s second deputy president, Zingiswa Losi, spent the session labelling Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim an enemy of the working class.
“When a leader moves out of the federation and then drives to Nkandla to negotiate positions in the ANC, that is counter-revolutionary,” Losi said of Jim, without mentioning him by name.
Speaking to The Star on Sunday night, Jim dismissed Losi’s comments out of hand, saying she had no ideas of her own and was merely repeating comments made by NUM general secretary Frans Baleni at the weekend.
Jim was scathing in his critique of NUM, however, saying it was a “failed democracy”.
“We have rejected any definition of any union as being ‘vigilante’ or counter-revolutionary and we will not have those labels imposed on us,” he said.
Losi went on to call Vavi an enemy of the working class too – by virtue of his support for Numsa.
The metalworkers’ union has begun to organise mine-workers and is understood to have agreed in principle to work with NUM’s rival, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).
As a result of these and other actions, the last Cosatu central executive committee decided to write to Numsa, asking it for reasons why it should not be suspended or expelled.
“You attack NUM. You counter-mobilise. And how do we characterise Amcu? They say you can’t characterise Amcu as counter-revolutionary (because) ‘Amcu is one of us’,” Losi said in referring to Numsa.
“If you seek to liquidate and undermine another union (in the same federation), then you can’t be an affiliate. You are an enemy to the working class.”
Jim insisted, however, there had been no development regarding Amcu.