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'Decision to expel Numsa not easy'

Cosatu's S'dumo Dlamini says the federation reached the decision with a heavy heart and much reluctance.

FILE: Numsa members Numsa take part in a strike action in Johannesburg. Picture: Ihsaan Haffejee/EPA.

JOHANNESBURG - Cosatu president S'dumo Dlamini says the Central Executive Commitee (CEC) meeting that expelled Numsa reached the decision with a heavy heart and much reluctance.

The metalworkers union were kicked out of Africa's largest federation by 33 votes to 24 and claim their withdrawal of support for the African National Congress (ANC) and South African Communist Party (SACP) caused this.

Dlamini says the move is unprecedented and is not being celebrated.

"It's not a decision we celebrated as workers or the CEC. When the CEC reached that particular point, they would have tried all that needed to be done and said to avoid the situation."

Numsa says it believes Cosatu does have the capacity to consolidate its support following the expulsion, but its affiliate unions will now face stiff competition in the workplace.

The National Union of Mineworkers' Frans Baleni has been accused of leading the charge to oust Numsa at a 14-hour long meeting at the weekend with Numsa's Irvin Jim saying Baleni described the gathering as the point of no return.

Baleni says Numsa's expulsion has left the country's labour movement weakened.

"Because everywhere Numsa will try to penetrate, the workplaces are going to be weakened and divided, but over a period of time I'm sure we will consolidate and continue to build a strong federation."

A senior Numsa official says Cosatu's General Secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, will now have to consider if he's prepared to stay in the federation.

Karl Cloete says Vavi now finds himself in an untenable situation.

"Whether he is prepared to champion right-winged policies away from the mandate of the eleventh congress, I think it must be very untenable for him. I think his conscience must be like a ticking time bomb."

Meanwhile Irvin Jim says Vavi will most likely be targeted by rival factions in Cosatu, now that Numsa has been kicked out.

"Vavi I think is the next on the list. If Numsa is not there, they will completely burn Zwelinzima Vavi because this whole thing is basically to burn the federation of workers."