Gina reveals growing tensions in Numsa

The union’s president says rift between him and Irvin Jim over Cosatu and the ANC are deepening.

FILE: Numsa members march in Randburg on 9 September 2013. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) President Cedric Gina on Monday said he doesn't believe the union's possible move away from the tripartite alliance is being properly discussed with members.

This could be seen as an apparent push against Numsa General Secretary Irvin Jim.

The alliance is made up of the ANC, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).

The latter is facing a split as President Sidumo Dlamini and suspended General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi face off.

Vavi was suspended after he admitted he had an affair with a younger employee.

Numsa, one of Vavi's strongest supporters, called for a special congress to reinstate him.

But Dlamini refused to entertain the idea.

At the same time, Numsa publicly hit out at the ANC over the National Development Plan and Gauteng e-tolling.

But Gina says deeper rifts exist between Jim and the ruling party over President Jacob Zuma's refusal to make Vavi his deputy at the party's Mangaung conference last year.

Numsa will now hold a special congress of its own next month where it will decide on withdrawing its support for the ANC, thus leaving the alliance.

However, Gina wants to maintain all ties with both the ANC and Cosatu.

He believes its arrangement with the trade union federation is now also at risk.

Gina says if Numsa decides to abandon Cosatu as well, he'll have to contemplate his future in the union.

He's been involved with Cosatu for around two decades.

"I don't want Numsa to leave Cosatu. If it means that I'm the stumbling block for Numsa to stay in Cosatu, then maybe it's me who should leave."

Gina says it's not a decision he can make just yet.

"I'll have to cross that bridge when I reach it. But [having to decide] is not a nice space to be in - I've really enjoyed my years at Numsa."

His statements hint at huge differences between himself and Jim and may lead to speculation that, if Numsa does leave Cosatu, the union itself may split entirely.