Writing is on the wall for Cosatu

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Andrew Chirwa, Numsas new president, declares the unions special national congress open. Photo: Timothy Bernard

Johannesburg - Metalworkers’ union Numsa has given the strongest indication yet that it will dump Cosatu and form an independent, socialist-oriented workers’ party.

By Tuesday, this seemed to be a foregone conclusion even before the end of the union’s special national congress, which is under way in Boksburg.

Numsa’s newly elected president, Andrew Chirwa, suggested this when he said the SACP had abandoned its role as a workers’ vanguard party and allowed itself to be “swallowed” by the “bourgeoisie” ruling ANC, whose policies entrenched “extreme poverty” among blacks and “extreme wealth among a tiny white” population.

“South Africa has today become the world capital of community protests for improvements in the lives of the people. The state of the working class is in shambles, the working class is leaderless,” said Chirwa.

He said this had left Numsa as the lone voice in demanding the radical implementation of the Freedom Charter, which he said had been “dumped” by the ANC-led government.

“The SACP complains about our perspective that the SACP has dissolved into a capitalist government and evaporated into the ANC. They say we are hypocrites for saying this. As Numsa, we are not opposed to communists participating in bourgeoisie governments. What we oppose is communists giving a Left cover to a right-wing agenda of neo-liberalism.”

Cosatu, and especially its president, S’dumo Dlamini, came under severe criticism for “elevating himself” above the labour federation’s constitution.

“As Numsa, we have noted the evaporation of the alliance, which only condenses and appears during election times,” said Chirwa.

SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande was Chirwa’s chief target, following his calls for Numsa’s leaders to be subjected to lifestyle audits.

He said Nzimande had “gone berserk” and “degenerated to naked lies and hypocrisy”.

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