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Cosatu's Dlamini lashes out at Naidoo, Shilowa

The two have been highly critical of the federation’s decision to expel Numsa at the weekend.

Cosatu leadership at a press conference at Cosatu House in Johannesburg on 11 November 2014. Picture: Reinart Toerein/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) President Sidumo Dlamini has hit out at the federation's former general secretaries Jay Naidoo and Mbhazima Shilowa, telling them to stay away from the trade union federation.

The two have been highly critical of the federation's decision to expel the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) at the weekend.

The metalworkers union was expelled from the trade union federation by 33 votes to 24 in a special Cosatu Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting.

The expulsion follows two years of debilitating factional battles in the federation over the recruitment of each other's members and Numsa's withdrawal of support for the African National Congress (ANC).

Both Shilowa and Naidoo have claimed that the move marks the end of Cosatu and say that it was not a democratic decision because it was taken by leaders and not by workers.

"We would've expected you Jay Naidoo to come when other former leaders were coming to say how do we help Cosatu? We didn't expect you to write open letters to us," said Dlamini.

Dlamini accused Naidoo and Shilowa of not understanding what's happening in the federation.

"It's again unfortunate. We respect you but in the sense you are not helping us, stay away."

He also said claims that he refused to arrange a special congress is a lie.

"I have never refused to convene a special national congress. I'm waiting to present the report to the CEC."

Leaders also want other unions thinking of leaving the federation to talk to them outside of the public eye

VAVI'S ABSENCE CONSPICUOUS

Cosatu says general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi didn't attend the federation's special press conference this afternoon because he is consulting his lawyers.

There is intense speculation about whether Vavi could be fired from his post after the Numsa's expulsion.

Yesterday, seven other unions said they would suspend their participation in Cosatu structures because of Numsa's removal.

As the press conference started, Cosatu spokesperson Norman Mampane, explained why Vavi was not there.

"The general secretary is consulting his lawyers."

Meanwhile, deputy general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali says the trade union federation's decision must be observed by all of Cosatu's affiliates.

"Numsa's expulsion is now a CEC decision and must be observed by all structures."

The CEC also claims the federation will emerge from these challenges even stronger than it is now.