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Resistance expected over Numsa, Vavi issue

While not on the agenda at Cosatu's congress, some will push for a discussion on Numsa & Vavi’s expulsion.

Numsa General Secretary Irvin Jim. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - A group of disgruntled trade unions remain resolute to raise National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa) and Zwelinzima Vavi's expulsion at the Congress of South Africa Trade Union (Cosatu)'s Special National Congress today, although the issue is not on the agenda.

Some eight unions, who are accredited to attend the congress, met with the metalworkers union on Sunday night to determine their position and the plan on how to approach the two-day conference.

On Sunday, Numsa slated the African National Congress (ANC), South African Communist Party (SACP) and Cosatu President S'dumo Dlamini, claiming they're trying to destroy the federatio n.

The union's Karl Cloete said, "We expect resistance from the Cosatu leadership and from those unions that are responsible for the expulsion of Numsa and the dismissal of Vavi."

Numsa said it expects 'low levels of tolerance' at Cosatu's Special National Congress and possible 'violent action' by security in order to deal with alliance members who dare to raise Numsa and Vavi's expulsion.

Cloete said they received information that the same level of security that was forced onto Economic Freedom Fighters' members during the State of the Nation Address for raising the Nkandla issue, will be on high alert at this congress.

"We are reliably informed that there are sufficient resources to deal with what they call anyone who wishes to derail the Congress. So, I don't exclude the possibility of violent action and reaction."

After months of claims of support from workers by rival factions in Cosatu, the federation's Special National Congress, called to discuss the divisions, will finally start in Midrand today.

Cosatu's national office bearers have warned that they will not tolerate changes to the meeting's agenda.

It's understood the members of Numsa may stage a protest outside the Congress venue, to voice their dissatisfaction at being excluded from the gathering.

The unions inside Cosatu, that are loyal to Numsa, have vowed to stage a protest in the main plenary on their behalf.

Meanwhile, union leaders backing Dlamini insist their members will agree with the decision to expel Numsa and Vavi.

While it remains likely there'll be a call for elections to take place, Cosatu's leadership said that would require additional planning, which has not yet been done.

Numsa was expelled from the trade union federation last year, marking the first split of the worker federation since it was formed in 1985.

Earlier this year, Cosatu's CEC voted 31 votes to one, to fire Vavi.

The Special National Congress has cost the federation R6 million and is scheduled for 13 and 14 July.