'Numsa seem set on forming a party'

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga says it’s very likely the union is doing far more than mere research.

Numsa General Secretary Irvin Jim speaks to reporters after a meeting of the trade union’s central committee in Johannesburg, 18 August 2011. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - Speculation is mounting that the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has already decided to form a political party to take on the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

The union claims it's merely assessing the feasibility of such a move, with newly-elected president Andrew Chirwa saying they're considering various options.

At its special congress last week, Numsa General Secretary Irvin Jim said they would begin conducting research about whether a worker's party would be viable in South Africa.

It also called for President Jacob Zuma to resign, claiming his decisions to forge ahead with the Employment Incentive Act, e-tolls and the upgrades to his Nkandla homestead could not be tolerated.

The announcement came amid claims it's also preparing to leave the Congress of South African trade Unions (Cosatu), which it's called on to abandon its place in the tripartite alliance with the ANC and South African Communist Party (SACP).

Numsa says it's going to conduct its research, which will cover the theory of socialism and how to implement it in practice, and only then make a decision about forming a new political party.

But political analyst Ralph Mathekga says it's clear they've already made a decision, disputing their claim that they're only compiling research "as if they've just dropped from somewhere."

"They've been around and observing, they already have a clear indication. They find the ANC no longer a political home for them. So surely they already [decided]."

He also says Numsa may decide to tie up with a political party that already exists and which competes directly with the ANC.

Numsa has previously said it supports a radical economic policy that would see the state controlling the commanding heights of the economy.

But Mathekga warns Numsa they could be facing a tough battle.

"As much as you hear people from the left always talking about the class struggle, the reality is that people do not think of themselves in that way."