Tensions in the alliance escalate

Members of NUM march to the Gold Fields offices in Carltonville during a wage strike. Picture: Refilwe Modise.

As strike season continues, tensions within Cosatu are spilling over into the tripartite alliance.

Yesterday, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) fired the latest salvo in a war of words, saying it would no longer give the ANC a “blank cheque” during elections and vowing to take to the streets to reject the implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP).

The alliance includes the ANC, the SA Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu).

The vexed relationship is likely to be the subject of intense debate as Numsa heads to court in a bid to get embattled Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi’s suspension overturned.

The matter will be heard in the South Gauteng High Court tomorrow. Numsa has threatened to walk out of the labour federation if Vavi’s suspension is not lifted. He was suspended after he admited to an affair with a junior employee.


FILE PICTURE: Cosatu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi. Picture: Michel Bega

FILE PICTURE: Cosatu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi. Picture: Michel Bega


Yesterday, Numsa general-secretary Irvin Jim launched a scathing attack on ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande, accusing them of dividing Cosatu.

“These comrades have taken sides in the factional battles of the federation and they are weakening the federation.

“These comrades are preaching unity in the federation without Vavi. The ANC secretary general has now shown his true factional colours when he defined the Numsa general-secretary as a lone voice within Cosatu and ostensibly within Numsa.

“Instead of engaging with the neo-liberal NDP, which would be disastrous for the working class and the poor if it becomes the foundation of the ANC’s election manifesto, comrade Gwede

Mantashe chooses to campaign for the isolation of the Numsa general-secretary.

“Our importance to Cosatu and the alliance is not different from other affiliates,” Jim said.

SACP spokesman Malesela Maleka said Jim must come to terms with the fact that Cosatu was facing problems.

“Jim must accept the responsibility and help Cosatu to deal with the problem.

“He should not project the problem onto the person of Mantashe and Nzimande because that will delay solving the problem,” he said.

The ANC could not be reached for comment.

In August, the union said it would debate its future within

Cosatu and the alliance at its special congress in December.

However, Numsa deputy

general secretary Karl Cloete denied that the union would walk out of the federation, saying: “If people have drawn the conclusion that Numsa will walk, Numsa has not said that.”

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