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Numsa's Jim scathing in criticism of Cosatu leaders

Numsa is making representations on why it should not be expelled from Cosatu.

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim. Picture: Giovanna Gerbi/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has lost its bid to have the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu)'s second deputy president Zingiswa Losi removed from a Cosatu Central Executive Committee meeting where its fate will be decided.

The union is now making representations on why it should not be expelled from the federation.

It has insisted it is not being forced out of the federation for recruiting other affiliates' members but instead because Cosatu leaders are loyal to the African National Congress (ANC) and South African Communist Party (SACP).

After union leaders failed to reach a consensus on Losi's presence in the meeting, a vote was taken from which Numsa abstained and it went in favour of the second deputy president.

The meeting is now hearing a presentation from Numsa's general secretary Irvin Jim whose written speaking notes are scathing in their criticism of Cosatu leaders.

Jim says the union's autonomy has been compromised by Cosatu and calls for all national office bearers to be sacked and a special national congress to be called immediately.

He also disputes an accusation that his union has poached members from other affiliates, saying the workers joined Numsa out of their own free will.

In excerpts of Jim's notes, he says for the first time, the Cosatu tradition of independence and militancy is threatened by a leadership grouping which continues to prioritise support for the ANC and SACP government at any cost.

"Cosatu has become consumed by internal battles between two forces: Those who continue to support the ANC and SACP, and those who, despite their understanding of the ANC as a multi-class organisation, consciously and consistently fight for an independent, militant federation which stands for the interests of the working class before any other."

He says at a crucial point in the history of the South African class struggle, the most consistent voice of the working class and the poor over the last 25 years has been silenced.

Jim says the Tripartite Alliance is dysfunctional and has been captured by rightwing forces.

"The alliance is dysfunctional, in crisis, paralysed and dominated by infighting and factionalism. It has been captured by rightwing forces."

The Numsa general secretary says the working class are being used by leaders of the alliance, the ANC, as voting fodder.

"The alliance operates only during election periods. It is used to rubber stamp neo-liberal policies of the ANC and not as a centre of power that debates policy issues and implementation."

He also says other affiliates have violated Cosatu policy without consequence

Numsa's presentation is expected to continue late into the evening and it's still unclear if a vote will take place tonight.

Click here to view Numsa's presentation.