Damning discussion document emerges at Cosatu congress

Cosatu’s first deputy president was scathing in his criticism of the discussion document and its authors.

Congress of South African Trade Unions delegates at the union's special congress in Midrand on 13 July 2015. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - An alternative discussion document has emerged at the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu's) Special National Congress happening in Midrand and has been described as an attempt to destroy the federation.

The document was held up by Cosatu's first deputy President Tyotyo James after a long debate about whether new Liberated Metalworkers Union of South Africa (Limusa) and first Deputy President Zingiswa Losi will be allowed to stay in the meeting.

It contradicts an earlier discussion document released by Cosatu on the issues that national leadership says they are dividing workers.

James was scathing in his criticism of the discussion document and its authors.

He described it as a display of panic on the part of those wanting to destroy Cosatu.

The document was formulated by expelled National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa), the Communication Workers' Union (CWU), Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu), South African Football Players Union (Safpu), South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu) and South African Society of Bank Officials (Sasbo).

Tyotyo told more than 2,000 delegates it's the duty of Cosatu's leadership to condemn the document in the strongest possible terms.

The debate around who will be allowed in the meeting is still continuing and delegates have not yet adopted the agenda.

After hours of debate delegates are still unable to decide who is allowed to attend the meeting.

The vote has been prompted by two opposing motions on credentials at the congress called to discuss unity and cohesion.

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The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) President Sizamele Cebekhulu says they're trying to reach a deal.

"We are talking about the coming together so we want to bring the federation to its former status."

National Union of Mineworkers's (NUM) David Sipunzi says his union wants to discuss worker issues but the debate is being frustrated.

"We believe we are here to help rescue Cosatu."

After the credentials are finalised delegates will then start the debate on the contents of the meeting's agenda.


Meanwhile, ousted former Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi says the federation is at risk of final implosion and there is no short cut to unity unless the agenda is to split the union.

Vavi says he is disappointed at the state of the federation that cannot even set an agenda at the congress without argument.

"There is no shortcut to unity unless you have an agenda to split the federation. You can't dismiss ordinary workers from the federation and then make a claim that you are still interested in unity."

He says Cosatu will have to address constitutional issues over elections and membership if it is to prevail.

#COSATU Members of FAWU surrounded by unions loyal to Dlamini and other NOBs. GW pic.twitter.com/DSMIxyHHNB

#COSATU Logistics of the vote on credentials now being ironed out in main plenary. Some say it should be by a show of hands, others object.

#COSATU A few journalists saying ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete has left. She was due to deliver msg of support. TG Zweli Mkhize still here.