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Numsa: 20 years, no change

The union says it sees no reason to continue supporting the ANC as it's failing South Africans.

Numsa leadership (with Andrew Chirwa at far right) with suspended Cosatu Secretary General Zwelinzima Vavi (second from right) at the union's special congress, 18 December 2013. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) President Andrew Chirwa this week said 20 years into democracy and the working class has still not benefited at all from the current government.

The union also said it sees no reason to continue supporting the ANC.

Chirwa says various issues have not been addressed and half of the population still lives in poverty.

At the union's special congress last week, Numsa called on the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) to withdraw from the tripartite alliance.

It also said it plans to withhold an R800,000 per month affiliation fee to Cosatu until a special congress is convened.

Chirwa said they are considering forming a political party in the future.

"We're doing research. We're going to raise the issue at the 2015 national congress of Cosatu who will also be pushing for such a position.

"So if at the end of the day there has to be a political party of the working class that will be there to contest the elections, there's nothing wrong with that."

But he said the focus at the moment is to build Numsa into a progressive union.

"We're not in a rush because we're not after power. To us it's not about power. It's about the working class and poor people having an organization that will be loyal to their own plight."

During its special congress last week, Numsa also called for the resignation of President Jacob Zuma.

Chirwa noted e-tolls, the youth wage subsidy which was recently implemented in the Employment Incentive Act, and the National Development Plan as various outstanding issues with the current government.

NEW PRESIDENT, NEW VALUES?

Chirwa was elected to the presidency of the party during the special congress.

The 33-year-old was previously the first vice president of the union and is now filling the role abandoned around a month ago by Cedric Gina.

Gina told Eyewitness News his resignation came because he felt he was being undermined by certain members of the union's management.

After more than 20 years filling various roles in the union, Gina said Numsa appeared to be wavering from its original path.

He hinted at his dissatisfaction with Jim's push to withdraw support from the ruling party and said he didn't believe the decision was being properly discussed with Numsa members.

But Chirwa's stance on these matters appears to be in line with Jim's, and he is supportive of Cosatu's suspended Secretary General Zwelinzima Vavi who Numsa is fighting to have reinstated.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) backed Numsa's calls, saying the tripartite alliance has never made much sense and that Zuma is failing the country.

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