Cosatu, Numsa clash set to come to a head

By going to court today, Numsa has indicated it's not afraid of dragging this out.

FILE: Cosatu's Johannesburg headquarters. Picture: Sapa.

CAPE TOWN - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu)'s Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting, which could decide to expel the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), is now going ahead tomorrow after the South Gauteng High Court postponed the union's application to delay it.

Numsa had claimed the federation's leaders had already decided to expel it and that the proper procedures weren't being followed.

Two weeks ago, the CEC meeting adjourned after starting the process that would lead to a vote on Numsa's future.

Both sides will try to claim victory but in the end, all this really seems to show is that the final decision on who wins the long battle could be in the hands of a court.

It also indicates that no matter what happens tomorrow, this is going to be a drawn out saga.


By going to court today, Numsa has indicated it's not afraid of dragging this out and will try force Cosatu to follow every letter of its Constitution.

But in the final analysis, Cosatu is still paralysed while Numsa is still pressing ahead with its plans to help in the creation of a new political party.

Numsa says it sees today's decision as a victory.

The union's Karl Cloete says it's been wanting clarity on the charges against it for months now and the courts have helped the union decide that it will only answer to five key issues.

"We regard the outcome of today's court session as a victory because today's decision is that we only have to respond to five areas which we have prepared for and which we will make submissions on tomorrow."

Numsa's enemies now know they now have to follow the letter of Cosatu's Constitution if they want to expel the union.

Already, court documents in this case have shown already several unions want Numsa to be kicked out now.

They may think that a court challenge to that decision is simply inevitable and thus may only want to get the process going.

Earlier, Cosatu's senior council Pearce Roodt told the court that Numsa is using delaying tactics by trying to get an urgent interdict to prevent its possible expulsion.

Roodt told the court that Numsa received a letter from Cosatu in February in which the charges were listed and there is no basis to Numsa's argument.

He said the letter refers to Numsa's special congress in December where it took the decision not to support the ANC in the general elections which goes against Cosatu's Constitution.

Nine unions in Cosatu have argued that the possible expulsion of Numsa is only a tactic to remove the federation's secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi.

Click here to view Numsa's legal papers.