'Baleni was a committed leader'

Newly elected NUM President Piet Matosa has thanked Baleni for his leadership over the past 9 years.

FILE: Former NUM general secretary Frans Baleni. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Newly elected National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) President Piet Matosa says former general secretary Frans Baleni was a committed leader who united the union through tough times.

Baleni was voted out office in a four-day elective congress in Boksburg and former Free State secretary for the union David Sipunzi appointed his successor.

Sipunzi was voted in above Baleni by just nine votes.

Matosa was acting president before being voted in permanently last week.

He says he's confident the new leadership will be able to strengthen the union against declining membership numbers.

"We had a very successful congress. Delegates from all over the country have spoken."

He says almost all members of the new national executive are long-serving members which will serve them well in their tenure.

"What makes me happier is that they aren't new people."

Matosa thanked Baleni for his leadership over the past nine years.

At the same time, Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) President Sidumo Dlamini has welcomed the newly elected leadership of the NUM, calling it a true product of democracy.

Dlamini says he has no doubt the new leadership will move the industry forward.

"The newly elected leadership of the NUM is a product of a democratic dispensation in the union and Cosatu welcomes all of them equally to take Cosatu forward."

Meanwhile, Baleni has congratulated his successor, saying he is confident that the new leadership will succeed in its mandate.

"Firstly I would like to congratulate the elected leaders. They found the NUM in good hands and they should keep on steering the NUM in the right direction. I have accepted the results as per the delegates."

At the same time, the Chamber of Mines has welcomed the newly elected leadership.

The chamber says while it is looking forward to working with the newly elected leadership in the interests of its stakeholders, it has thanked Baleni for his service to the mining industry.

Spokesperson Zingaphi Matanzima-Jakuja says, "We hope we can have a constructive and meaningful relationship as we work towards putting the mining industry on the frontfoot. We really value the relationship we have with all our stakeholders."

Sipunzi is understood to be leading a faction that is unhappy with the Congress of South African Trade Union's expulsion of Zwelinzima Vavi and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa.

Since then, the NUM has been struggling with a drop in membership.