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Jim hints at Cosatu exit

Irvin Jim says Numsa's relationship with Cosatu is like a marriage and people can get divorced.

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim (second from left). Picture: Stephen Grootes/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG -National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) general secretary Irvin Jim has given what could be the strongest hint yet that his union is planning to leave the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).

On Monday, Cedric Gina resigned as president of Numsa saying members must stand up for their organisation.

He said he disagreed with the direction the 350,000-strong union was heading in.

His resignation comes as it appears Numsa is preparing to leave the tripartite alliance and possibly Cosatu.

The union will hold a special conference next month to decide whether to withdraw its support for the ANC.

Jim summed up Numsa's relationship with Cosatu quite carefully.

"If we leave Cosatu it will be the last resort. Numsa has a duty to do everything to ensure workers in this country remain united. I guess if you get married, you can get divorced."

He also suggested that Gina is doing someone else's bidding.

"I know Cedric and it's very difficult to believe that this is him speaking."

Jim says Numsa's final decision about its future is up to its members.

POLITICAL PLOY

Gina's resignation appears to be proof that the union is divided on the issue of leaving the alliance.

Jim says Gina is simply playing politics.

"The president wants to play victim so that in the special congress, workers come there and mobilise against this 'suddenly autocratic' Irvin Jim who's violent."

Numsa deputy general secretary Karl Cloete says Gina didn't tell national leaders he had resigned, but instead sent his letter to Numsa structures.

"We suspect that this bizarre way of communicating his resignation may have to do with seeking either sympathy or mobilising the rank and file to bring divisions."

Cloete says nothing can bring Gina back.

"No individual in Numsa or constitutional structure or organ of Numsa can reinstate Cedric Gina as president."