ANC general secretary Gwede Mantashe called on Vavi’s staunchest backer, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), not to pursue an individual, at the cost of the federation.
Addressing the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) central executive meeting in Johannesburg yesterday, Mantashe said Numsa can pursue Vavi, but if it means splitting Cosatu, it is not worth the price.
“Numsa must fight its battles within Cosatu. We must not give up on advising Cosatu leadership, including the leadership of the various affiliates, to do everything they can to stop the efforts to split the federation,”Mantashe said.
“Leaders must have the courage to lock themselves in one room and deal with the contradictions.”
Numsa had threatened to leave the trade federation in order to start their own workers’ union or a political party.
The union had been at loggerheads with Cosatu top brass over a number of issues – particularly the handling of Vavi’s suspension.
Mantashe told delegates worker leadership had been weakened beyond recognition. “One industry, one union is the foundation for industrial unions. Moving away from these principles will kill the federation,”Mantashe said.
Earlier, Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini told delegates there is a programme aimed to dislodge the labour federation. “They say Cosatu is the problem; they say Cosatu is a stumbling block and must be destroyed.
“Numsa is under attack just like Cosatu from inside and outside. Don’t be confused by politics,” he said.
Dlamini slammed Numsa’s threat to break away from the tripartite alliance.
“We are under threat as an organisation from people whose aim it is to liquidate Cosatu. They want us to take the direction they want. I refuse even if it means I have to die. If you have the desire to leave Cosatu, why waste time? This is what happens when people want to split the unions.
“It is wrong to be play with fire, because you run the risk of being burnt,” Dlamini said.