Frans Baleni NUM secretary general.phot supplied no byline please
Frans Baleni NUM secretary general.phot supplied no byline please

Battle looms over NUM leadership

By Time of article published May 2, 2012

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Moffet Mofokeng and George Matlala

NATIONAL Union of Mineworkers (NUM) general secretary Frans Baleni says the “clandestine” use of money from service providers has been used to try to oust him at the union’s upcoming elective conference.

Baleni, who is facing strong opposition from his deputy, Oupa Komane, is to stand for re-election at the elective conference at Emperor’s Palace next month.

Baleni told The Sunday Independent he was “aware that there is capital sponsoring the campaign. The danger of leadership sponsored through money-laundering (is that) you end up with a leadership which is not capable, but puppets of those who have provided money and resources,” he said.

Baleni said he intended to include the use of money in NUM leadership campaigns in his report to the conference next month.

“The organisation has to discuss these things. This is something that should be arrested,” he said.

Baleni confirmed he was standing for re-election. “If I am nominated, I will avail myself,” he said.

The NUM had its two-day national executive committee (NEC) meeting this week, the last one before the NUM elective conference, to finalise preparations for that gathering.

A source close to the elections said that, out of the 11 NUM regions, four had nominated Baleni and another four – PWV, North East, Matlosana and Highveld – had apparently nominated Komane.

Three regions – the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Rustenburg, the biggest NUM region in terms of numbers – were “highly divided” between Baleni and Komane.

Baleni has the support of Carletonville, KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State, the source said. It is unclear whether the Western Cape has nominated Baleni or Komane.

The NUM contest is a proxy battle of the upcoming elective conference of Cosatu, which is going to its own conference in September, the SACP and the ANC. Baleni, who is a member of the politburo of the SACP, is close to ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, who is the chairman of the SACP.

At its congress last year, the ANC Youth League nominated Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula.

It has refused to endorse a resolution supporting the election of President Jacob Zuma for a second term. The NUM – based on its influence in the alliance – is said to be holding considerable power within the alliance. Three ANC leaders – Mantashe, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, and ANC NEC member Cyril Ramaphosa – come from the NUM.

Baleni is in favour of the retention of Mantashe and Zuma at the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung. He is also in support of SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande, who has, over time, been subjected to criticism from Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi for serving in the cabinet instead of remaining in his SACP job on a full-time basis.

Nzimande, whose relationship with Vavi is at the lowest point ever, wants Zuma to be retained in Mangaung.

At the last NUM conference, Mantashe, who is the predecessor to Baleni, changed the NUM constitution so that Archie Palane, the popular candidate at the time, did not get a chance to stand against Baleni, who is his protégé. Baleni won the conference uncontested.

Last year, Nzimande appointed Phindile Nzimande, the wife of Baleni, together with Nolwandle Mantashe, the wife of Gwede Mantashe, to the boards of the Setas under his watch, while Zuma recently appointed Baleni to head the jobs fund, one of the important institutions in the government’s drive to create employment for the youth and the poor. Phindile Nzimande is the chief executive officer of the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa).

Komane, on the other hand, is said to be close to Vavi. Unlike Baleni, Komane does not sit on the top structures of the SACP.

“The battle for the soul of the NUM is big because it is at the heart of the battle for votes at the Cosatu conference and that of the ANC,” said a source close to the process this week. “The better devil between Oupa and Frans is Oupa, because Oupa is not serving on the SACP,” the source said.

Komane confirmed that the four regions had approached him and asked him to stand for the position of general secretary. He, like Baleni, said he would stand.

“I will stand because workers will be making the call that I should stand,” Komane said.

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