One of the Cosatu’s most vocal unions, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), general secretary Irvin Jim has once again torn into the ANC under President Jacob Zuma. He accused the ruling party of cowtowing to big business to the detriment of the working class.
Addressing Numsa’s research and policy institute colloquium in Benoni yesterday, Jim said: “We can’t afford to be in upper echelons of leadership in the state that wants to appease capital and rating agencies.” Numsa is suspended Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi’s staunchest backer.
The tension between the unions seems to be reaching boiling point. National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) general secretary Fikile Majola yesterday issued a statement blasting Vavi.
“We want to clarify that Cosatu is a federation that belongs to the workers and not individuals and therefore cannot be won or lost by its elected leaders like a medieval kingdom,” he said according to the SA Press Association.
Vavi has been quoted as saying he was intent on “winning back Cosatu”. “We commit to ardently campaign for the ANC in the upcoming national general elections to ensure that it achieves an overwhelming two-thirds majority.”
Jim said the country had been hit by militant strikes because the ANC is scared of big business and that the union would not be part of a leadership that is not decisive.
Jim again criticised the National Development Plan (NDP): “Africans, in particular in this country, have no access to the economy. Therefore, their children are still in apartheid’s township school conditions. All that the NDP says is: No, teachers must teach; they must just change mindsets. Pupils must also just have a good attitude; they will pass.”
ANC spokesman Keith Khoza declined to comment on Jim’s remarks. “This is a matter that Numsa must explain to Cosatu. The ANC has a relationship with Cosatu, not individuals. If Cosatu thinks the matter warrants attention it will engage the ANC.”
Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini told The Citizen the federation would only comment once it has seen the statement. Numsa and the ANC have been at loggerheads following the adoption of the NDP by the ANC.
Numsa has openly said that the ANC had erred in adopting the plan to grow the country’s economy and create jobs. It described the plan as identical to Democratic Alliance policies.