Vavi: New leadership exactly what NUM needs

Zwelinzima Vavi says there is no doubt the union is in trouble and is not realising its full potential.

FILE: Former Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Former Congress of South African Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi says the new leadership in the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is exactly what the trade union federation needs to restore hope among workers.

General secretary Frans 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.

Vavi says those elected must prioritise strengthening the union and rooting out corruption among its members.

He says there is no doubt the union is in trouble and is not realising its full potential.

"The Marikana massacre wouldn't have happened if the union was doing its work on the ground. Rival unions have been popping up all over indicating that workers are walking away."

Meanwhile, newly-elected NUM President Piet Matosa 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.

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."

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.