Zuma must go, says Numsa’s new boss

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chirwa

THE STAR

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

Johannesburg - The newly elected president of metalworkers’ union Numsa, Andrew Chirwa, has upped the ante in the calls for President Jacob Zuma to resign, as the furore over the expensive Nkandla upgrades refuses to die down.

Chirwa said Zuma would, by calling it quits, be demonstrating that he was serious about serving the interests of the people and not just himself, and preserving Nelson Mandela’s legacy of selflessness and accountable governance.

He urged Numsa members to consider calling on Zuma to step down.

“Should we not ask our own president, Jacob Zuma, who benefited from this saga, to resign in the interest of the poor?

“Must we not ask that he resign to preserve the legacy of Nelson Mandela, who was serving the interests of our people and not himself?” Chirwa asked on Tuesday.

He was addressing hundreds of Numsa members shortly before he was elected unopposed during the union’s four-day special national congress in Boksburg.

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Numsas Irvin Jim, left, and Karl Cloete join delegates in song at the special national congress. Photo: Timothy Bernard

THE STAR

He replaced Cedric Gina, who resigned unceremoniously last month.

It is expected that members will, during the special congress, decide whether Numsa should break away from Cosatu.

Numsa is Cosatu’s biggest affiliate by numbers, with an estimated 328 000 members.

Former president Thabo Mbeki reportedly said in an interview with a London-based TV station last week that Zuma should do the “honourable” thing by stepping down, if South Africans and the ANC party asked him to.

 

Unlike Zuma, who was booed at Mandela’s memorial service last Tuesday, Mbeki, was cheered by the crowd.

 

In a hard-hitting speech on Tuesday, Chirwa told Numsa members that it was time to call on Zuma to step down. He was particularly scathing on Tuesday in his condemnation of the ANC and SACP for leaping to Zuma’s defence and attacking Public Protector Thuli Madonsela in the face of a public outcry over the use of public funds to upgrade Zuma’s homestead at Nkandla.

“They must tell us what is revolutionary about the state when R200 million is used to build the home of one man.”

Meanwhile, suspended SA Democratic Teachers Union president Thobile Ntola was among the guests at Numsa’s special congress on Tuesday.

Suspended Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi was expected to address Numsa members on Wednesday.

This is amid speculation that Vavi could join Numsa’s mooted workers’ vanguard party if Numsa eventually breaks away from the ANC-led tripartite alliance.

lebogang.seale@inl.co.za

The Star


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