Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim File photo: Steve Lawrence

The ANC and its alliance partners have started to isolate rebel metalworkers union Numsa from their key activities, following the union’s decision to dump the ruling party as its political home.

The Sunday Independent has established that leaders of Numsa, Cosatu’s biggest affiliate, were excluded from a top Cosatu delegation that met the ANC and SACP this week.

The tripartite alliance political council – which brings together 15 senior leaders from each management structure of the organisations – met on Monday in Mbombela to iron out differences and develop a common election programme.

They focused on vexing issues such as the economic section of the National Development Plan, labour brokers, the youth wage subsidy and Gauteng e-tolls.

They also finalised the ANC’s election manifesto which, in line with the party’s electoral strategy, highlights its achievements over 20 years of democracy.

Numsa resolved at its special congress last December to persuade Cosatu to ditch the alliance, unless a decision was taken that they remain in it, the union insists.

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said they were yet to formally inform Cosatu about their decision to agitate for the collapse of the alliance. “We have taken a decision not to campaign for the ANC. But there is no decision to boycott alliance engagements,” he said.

The decision to exclude Numsa from the alliance meeting has triggered a fresh row with Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini.

Numsa spokesman Castro Ngobese accused Dlamini of isolating the union.

“If the alliance political council meets, it is Cosatu that must determine who must attend. But because of the paralysis, Numsa is excluded,” he said.

“It has happened before, we are not surprised this time around,” he added.

However, Ngobese noted that Numsa would not have attended the ANC manifesto launch in line with its decision to withdraw financial assistance and endorsement of the ruling party’s campaign.

“This (manifesto launch) is a programme of the ANC. The alliance is playing a supporting role. Our congress resolved not to support it,” he said.

“No Numsa leader will campaign for the ANC. Nothing has changed,” he added.

But for Dlamini, Numsa did not deserve to be part of the alliance activities due to its public attacks on the ANC and the SACP.

“The political council of the alliance involves the ANC and SACP. At the moment, they don’t want the ANC. It suffices that Numsa was not to make a contribution to take us to a decisive (election) victory,” he said.

“We didn’t invite them to this council because we must take guidance from the central executive committee on Numsa,” he added.

Cosatu is yet to determine a date for the meeting of its leaders to discuss the recent Numsa special congress.

Dlamini said Numsa’s decision to turn its back on the ANC showed “the leaders of Numsa have found something else”.

Numsa has been accused of plotting a coalition with the Economic Freedom Fighters.

But this week EFF leader Julius Malema said although the two organisations shared a “common ideological perspective” they had not yet decided to meet.

“We are creating an initiative to meet with Numsa… We think we are sharing the same ideological perspective and there is no need for us to disagree and fight publicly,” he told journalists in Johannesburg on Thursday.

Malema also denied that his party had met suspended Cosatu boss Zwelinzima Vavi.

“I have never met Vavi… There is no such discussion between us and Vavi, even Numsa,” he said.

Vavi is suspected of working with Malema and Jim to form a new party or front to oppose the ANC.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe this week challenged Vavi to come clean on whether he was in talks with EFF or not. He said if Vavi wanted to join the EFF, he should say so and not create a conspiracy that did not exist.

Mantashe was speaking at a media briefing after the party’s national executive committee meeting this week.

This came as former Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni clashed with Vavi on Twitter over the EFF.

Mboweni, an ANC national leader, asked whether Vavi declined nomination to Parliament because he was in negotiations with EFF.

The two have since claimed they have buried the hatchet.

Both Vavi and Dlamini have declined nomination to go to Parliament, setting the scene for the continuation of the battle for Cosatu.

The Sunday Independent