‘Numsa is trying to destroy the federation’

Cosatu President Sdumo Dlamini says Numsa had ample time to return to the federation but chose not to.

FILE: Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), Sdumo Dlamini. Picture: Official Cosatu Facebook page.

JOHANNESBURG - Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) President Sdumo Dlamini has told delegates at Cosatu's Special National Congress that the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) is trying to destroy the federation and does not intend returning to the fold.

Dlamini has delivered the opening address at the Cosatu congress in Midrand and he's lashed out at unions that have boycotted the Central Executive Committee (CEC) meetings in support of Numsa.

He says Numsa had ample time to return to the federation but chose not to.

"Blame us then and say we've expelled 360,000 members. No, we didn't do that. We protected Cosatu union against cannibalisation by one other Cosatu union."

Dlamini says Numsa does not have any allies within Cosatu.

"There is nothing like Numsa allies; there is Cosatu unions."

While a majority of the delegates cheered Dlamini as he lashed out at Numsa, he was also booed by members of South Africa Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu), Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa's (Denosa) and Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) who've been campaigning for the return of the metalworkers.

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Dlamini has also called on shop stewards to reclaim their organisation from general secretaries and ensure decisions taken by leaders reflect the will of workers.

He has admitted that the National Office Bearers of Cosatu further deepened divisions by intervening with warring factions.

The general secretaries of eight unions boycotted the federation's CEC meeting after Numsa was expelled.

Dlamini says workers have allowed general secretaries to take over organisations.

"We've created a problem. When you failed to observe our duty as shop stewards we allowed a situation where we did not provide a leadership."

The Cosatu president says while attempting to resolve this impasse, the Cosatu leadership also made the situation worse.

"We have exploited the divisions; we find weakness in each union and got in there to try and pretend as if we were helping, yet we were going to exploit their weakness and work with the other side."

Dlamini's sentiments were echoed by the SACP's Thulas Nxesi who says workers are wasting money by employing shop stewards who aren't servicing members.

Earlier today, rebel unions aligned with Numsa have lost the first battle in the congress by failing to force the gathering to hear an appeal by the metalworkers' union and expelled Secretary General Zwelinzima Vavi.

Delegates from rival factions took part in a 10-hour debate on whether Second Deputy President Zingiswa Losi and Numsa's replacement, the Liberated Metalworkers Union of South Africa (Limusa) should be allowed into the meeting.

Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) were eventually defeated in a vote, with an overwhelming majority voting in favour of their presence.

As it became evident that workers would not entertain a change to the agenda proposed by Cosatu to leaders, delegates of unions supporting Numsa started walking out of the main venue.

They included workers from the Denosa, Fawu and the South African Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu).