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Whether Cosatu will allow its president S’dumo Dlamini, general-secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and second deputy president Zingiswa Losi to serve on the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) may only be decided on the eve of the ruling party’s national conference in Mangaung.
But no such debate, or possible limitation, will apply to leaders of individual trade union affiliates, some of whom it is understood, have also been nominated, including National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) president Senzeni Zokwana and National Union of Health and Allied Workers general-secretary Fikile Majola.
This week’s Cosatu central executive committee (CEC) decided to let individual unions make their own decisions on whether to take up ANC NEC posts, Independent Newspapers has learnt.
This is in keeping with Cosatu’s insistence that active trade unionists must serve in the post-Mangaung ANC NEC in order to ensure that workers’ interests are better represented.
The debate over the three top Cosatu officials’ participation in the ANC NEC was expected to continue right up to December 16, when 4 500 ANC branch delegates start their five-day national conference in Mangaung.
“The debate [was]: will that be tactically correct to have three out of six national office bearers on the NEC or will it go too far, undermining the independence of Cosatu,” said Vavi.
However, he reiterated his previous stance of not wanting to take up an ANC NEC seat as it could be a potential conflict for a lead spokesman.
Dlamini indicated he would “abide” by the trade union federation’s decision.
At its September national congress, Cosatu resolved to “swell the ranks of the ANC”, union speak for becoming part of the ruling party to influence its policy direction.
And while some Cosatu affiliates like metalworkers’ union Numsa want to see half of the ANC NEC ranks representing workers, previous attempts by the trade union federation to hold numbers in what is the ANC’s highest decision-making body between national conferences proved disappointing.
In the past, trade unionists who served as, for example, ANC MPs found themselves in tricky positions, having to vote with the ANC on whose ticket they got to the national legislature, even if it contravened trade union decisions.
On the labour front, this week’s CEC decided to set down four days in March for its collective bargaining, organising and campaigns conference.
The aim is to underscore the much-called-for mindset change towards better servicing members and campaigns for greater job security and a living wage.
Meanwhile, as the Marikana commission of inquiry this week heard that Lonmin believed union rivalry was a key factor in the labour tensions that culminated in the police killing of 34 miners, Cosatu came out in full support of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).
It dismissed claims that the union had been behind the deaths of two miners over the weekend before the massacre on August 16.
“[NUM] will put the facts in the commission and expose the lies being told of two people who were killed by the NUM…,” said the CEC statement.