'Court ruling is final nail in the coffin for Numsa'

The court ruled that Numsa will not be included in Cosatu's special congress next month.

National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and Cosatu members sit inside Johannesburg High Court ahead of the court hearing after Numsa made calls to be reinstated back to Cosatu on 9 June 2015. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Former Congress of South African Trade (Cosatu) General-Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said Tuesday's High Court ruling against National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has severely prejudiced him and is the final nail in the coffin for the bid to return to the federation.

Numsa approached the High Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday, asking that the union be urgently included in next month's congress before Cosatu's accreditation committee meets on Wednesday.

The court ruled that Numsa's application was not urgent.

The union said it accepted the ruling and will now canvass its members on a way forward.

Vavi said now that Numsa's absence at the special national congress is guaranteed, it means he won't be able to appeal his dismissal.

"It means now that the unity will be designed and framed to our exclusion and when elections happen, we will then be prejudiced."

Numsa's Irvin Jim said they will consider whether to appeal at an ordinary congress.

"To take a decision that's says 'yes Numsa you can come in November and appeal but it can only be your president or your general secretary', we don't need Numsa members to be part of the appeal. What's the point of the appeal because if they have taken that decision, we'll still be where we are today."

Vavi has described the court ruling as the beginning of the end of Cosatu and said workers should discuss the political implications.

Cosatu's acting general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said: "We don't believe the matter should have been brought to the court. We have argued that this is an abuse of power and have provento be correct. Over time comrades will realise that it is a futile exercise as Cosatu matters should be resolved through Cosatu's internal processes."

Most of Cosatu's leaders were in court along with the leaders of unions loyal to the metalworkers' union.

Vavi said he would only appeal his dismissal from Cosatu at the congress if Numsa was allowed to attend.

He argued that workers should be allowed to decide whether Numsa returns to the fold.


Acting judge Mandla Mbongwe described Numsa's application as an afterthought and said the union should have lodged it in February.

Mbongwe also reaffirmed Cosatu's view that the special national congress does not have the same power as an ordinary congress.

That ordinary congress, taking place in November, is where the judge says Numsa should lodge its appeal.

But it's unclear if this will happen with the metalworkers' union members allowed in the congress with voting rights.

Describing how Numsa approached the courts, Mbongwe said it was like someone watching a fire and failing to react until it reached their doorstep.

Speaking outside court Vavi described the outcome as the end of the road for their battle to return to the federation.

The special national congress is scheduled for 13 and 14 July.