African National Congress secretary general Gwede Mantashe fields questions from reporters during a news conference in Johannesburg, Monday, 17 January 2011 following the NEC ordinary meeting and NEC lekgotla which took place last week. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

Leaders of the ANC and its alliance partners have launched a broadside against controversial leaders of metalworkers union Numsa, condemning their decision to dump the party four months before the elections.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, SACP deputy chairman Thulas Nxesi and mineworkers union NUM president Senzeni Zokwana used the funeral of SACP leader Crosby Moni in Cofimvaba, Eastern Cape, as a platform to attack Numsa and remind mourners of the ANC’s achievements.

Mantashe said “when they go around saying the ANC has neglected the working class, it is because they have a narrow definition of who is the working class”.

“Crosby understood that ultra-leftism was dangerous, especially when disguised with revolutionary rhetoric,” Mantashe said.

Mantashe’s criticism came a few weeks after Numsa, Cosatu’s biggest affiliate and a key labour campaigner for the ANC, resolved to withdraw electoral support and resources from the ruling party’s election campaign.

Numsa’s decision to form a socialist party has also rattled the unity of the alliance, which the ANC needs to defend the 65 percent of the national vote it scored in 2009. In line with the ANC’s election strategy for this year’s polls, Mantashe ventilated the ANC’s successes since 1994.

He said the fact that social grants were being given to more than 16 million people was an example that the working class benefited from the new government.

Interestingly, Cosatu general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, also attended the funeral, seated near the front with ANC national executive committee member Humphrey Mmemezi and billionaire Patrice Motsepe.

Numsa has been leading Vavi supporters and has publicly charged that they want a special congress to reinstate him to his position.

Co-operative Governance Minister and SACP central committee member Lechesa Tsenoli and ANC MP and Young Communist League leader Buti Manamela were also in attendance. Even in Vavi’s presence, alliance leaders did not hold back their attacks on his backers.

Zokwana, said Numsa’s decision to abandon the ANC means they have found a new political home. “It means they have found another lover. The reason they are saying they don’t want this one is because they have found another lover,” he said. “The founding fathers of Cosatu must be hurting wherever they are,” said Zokwana.

Numsa has been accused of flirting with Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters and the Workers and Socialist Party (Wasp).

Zokwana pleaded with the community of Cofimvaba never to abandon the tripartite alliance regardless of its mistakes. “When leaders make mistakes, it is not the ANC but the leaders. Don’t leave Nelson Mandela’s organisation because you have heard of new people,” said Zokwana.

Nxesi, who is also Minister of Public Works, attacked what he called “leaders without a backbone”. “Today we have a problem of leaders without a backbone, leaders who go where the wind is blowing. Comrade Crosby did not run to the (news)papers whenever there were problems.

“It is shocking that post-1994, some of our leaders bash the movement to a point where opposition parties start applauding,” said Nxesi. - The Sunday Independent