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South Africa - COSATU, NUMSA - What's Going On?

This past weekend, COSATU, South Africa's labor federation voted to expel NUMSA, the National Union of Metal Workers. To give readers a better understanding, Portside is posting many of the relevant documents (sorry for length of this post): Tyotyo James (COSATU deputy president) interview prior to expulsion; COSATU official statement; NUMSA response to the expulsion; ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe on Developments in COSATU.

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COSATU expelled NUMSA this past weekend., SABC (South Africa)

South African Union Movement's Hour of Reckoning

Joe Gill interview with Tyotyo James, COSATU deputy president - prior to the vote to expel NUMSA.

By Joe Gill

November 7, 2014
The Morning Star (UK)

Tyotyo James, the deputy president of trade union federation Cosatu, returns to South Africa after his trip to London at a critical moment in the union movement's history.

The South African trade union federation faces a split in its ranks over moves by the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) - the biggest union in Cosatu with 300,000 members - to break with the decades-old alliance of the ANC, Cosatu and the South African Communist Party (SACP).

Today James will be attending the meeting that could in theory suspend or expel Numsa from the federation.

"Nobody wants to see Cosatu splitting because if that happens surely it will not benefit the workers, it will benefit the local bourgeoisie and global capital," says James.

"We have a very difficult moment right now because the fact that we are discussing whether to expel or suspend Numsa means whatever the decision we make, it will reduce Cosatu."

Numsa has been involved in prolonged strikes in the metal, engineering and auto sectors over the last year, and is accused by other Cosatu unions of openly poaching members to swell its ranks.

But Numsa's decision not to campaign for the ANC in the 2014 general election and to launch a new workers' party next month to challenge the ANC is the issue that could split the triple alliance.

James says Numsa's actions are opportunistic, "because anyone who loves this organisation would work within it to change it. You don't stand on the sidelines and shout from the periphery.

"Members of Cosatu are from all political persuasions in South Africa including the Democratic Alliance. Overall our position favours the alliance with the ANC and the Communist Party."

James is a miner who came up through the ranks of the South African NUM. He became a district chair of the SACP in 1995, was an ANC councillor between 2000 and 2005 and was elected to the national executive of Cosatu in 2007.

He says Numsa is wrong to split the alliance that has delivered major social advances since 1994. "All of a sudden they are disillusioned with the ANC and the tripartite alliance and in their resolution they are calling for a breakup of the alliance - which is wrong, very very wrong. This tripartite alliance was formed in order to advance the national democratic revolution and the NDR has not yet reached its logical conclusion, which is the creation of a socialist South Africa."

A pivotal figure in this drama is the general secretary of Cosatu, Zwelinzima Vavi, who is an ally of Numsa.

James describes Vavi as a "powerful individual ... He is closer to them but he does not support them on poaching members of other unions, on the creation of a new political party and the split of the alliance.

"He told Numsa recently that `it is my duty as general secretary of Cosatu to promote and implement the resolutions taken by Cosatu.' It was very important that he told them this, because if he did not then other people would be doubting him as a general secretary."

Despite the looming split, James insists the democratic alliance remains strong, following the ANC's fifth election victory with a 62 per cent majority in May's general elections. "In Cosatu we say the NDR is the shortest route to socialism. We are in agreement that if you advance it and deepen it, then you will realise socialism."

In his speech this week to Action on South Africa (which until 1994 was the Anti-Apartheid Movement) James explained that the alliance had delivered huge social advances for the people it represents.

These achievements include:

  • social grants now reading 16 million South Africans - nearly one in three - up from 3 million in 1994.
  • 3.3 million homes built - free to the new owners - housing 16 million.
  • 7 million new electricity connections to households since 1996
  • 9 million pupils getting free school meals.
  • However, millions more are still waiting for jobs, a minimum wage and social security.

"Many people are living in informal settlements who do not have houses. They say the government is not doing anything. It's only human that they are focused on their own needs - we must speed up housing provision and everything that will lead people out of poverty."

James accepts that the ANC government has so far not shown the political will to challenge big business and move toward fulfilling the goals of the Freedom Charter, including nationalisation of major industries and land redistribution.

"The South African economy is dominated by finance capital and the mineral conglomerates. As it is now we are much too afraid of capital, we want to manage the economy on behalf of capital. If you want to address the problems at home we have to take the bold steps, but this is what the leadership in government is not doing."

He is clear that while a social transformation is underway, economic transformation has hardly begun.

While average wages are R3,033 (£170) per month and one in four people go to bed hungry, the country's richest are richer than ever. David Hathorn, boss of paper company Mundu, earns £4.342 million according to the Sunday Times Rich List. "It would take 2,261 years - 37 lifetimes - for an average worker to earn what Hathorn did in a single year."

The main beneficiary in economic terms of the first two decades of democracy is white monopoly capital, James says.

"Our underlying problems are the terrible level of unemployment, inequality and corruption," he told the meeting.

There have been three investigations into misspending of around R240 million (£1.35 million) at President Jacob Zuma's lavish homestead project in Nkandla but as yet no conclusions as to Zuma's culpability.

This year has seen "an unprecedented wave of strikes and community protests, clear evidence that millions of South Africans feel they have been left out of the new South Africa."

And the sense that the legacy of apartheid and colonialism has not been banished was crystallised by the massacre of striking miners at Marikana in 2012, when 44 mineworkers were shot dead by police.

"As things are, if we don't change, we are brewing a counter-revolution, because there are many people who are poor and hungry and these pose a threat to the democracy of the country. It would be easy for them to be used by forces that are opposed to the country. If you have an army of the unemployed it is a ticking time bomb.

"We need the leadership to be bold and tough to mitigate conditions on behalf of the mass of the people who are the voters of the ANC. People are not going to rely for much longer on the struggle credentials of the ANC."

Does James believe that in another 20 years South Africa will be a socialist country? "All of us have a dream of realising socialism in our lifetime. As much as we understand that a struggle takes a long time, we share a commitment that we want to realise that dream while we are living, not in a future generation.

"In any revolution you cannot stand up and make a proclamation that by December 2014 we will have a socialist South Africa. What revolutionaries must do is raise the consciousness in society as whole. We have that duty. Numsa has that duty."

COSATU Special Central Executive Committee Statement

November 11, 2014
COSATU Press Statement

The Congress of South African Trade Unions held its Special Central Executive Committee Meeting on the 7th November 2014 at COSATU House, Braamfontein.

The meeting in terms of our Constitution was attended by National Office Bearers, COSATU Provincial Chairpersons and Secretaries and Representatives from All Affiliates.

The Special CEC has a constitutional power and authority to take decisions and manage the affairs of the Federation in between the National Congress and the Central Committee as per the Constitution.

ANC Task Team Report and its conclusions

The Special CEC held on the 8th October received a report from the ANC in which the ANC had asked for an opportunity to intervene in the challenges confronting the Federation.

Accordingly this CEC took a decision to put its agenda Items in abeyance and to allow for the ANC task team's intervention.

This intervention was based on the following:

  1. That the strategic objective is to preserve the integrity of the unity of workers under COSATU.
  2. To postpone the Special CEC and to put in abeyance all the issues in the agenda
  3. To embark on the process in which the ANC will help to facilitate the process towards achieving the strategic objective of preserving the unity of workers under COSATU. This process will take up to a month.
  4. That there is a need for cessation of hostilities, which means all affiliates and all leaders of the federation and members should stop all activities which will militate against the achievement of this strategic objective of preserving the integrity of the unity of workers under COSATU.

The Special CEC held from the 21st - 23rd October 2014, on amongst others received the report from ANC Task team.

This report made specific conclusions and corresponding recommendations.

These can be summarised as follows:

Conclusion One: The TT has found that there is agreement on the importance of maintaining the unity of COSATU and the integrity of the organisation as a cohesive force in society, because workers in South Africa are strongest and best served when organized under a united COSATU. The principle of `one union one industry` was accepted as the founding basis of COSATU. The NOB`s agreed that they need to show a united approach to addressing issues relating to the contravention of the constitution of COSATU.

Conclusion Two: The TT found widespread support and agreement that all COSATU resolutions adopted at the national congress must be implemented.

Conclusion Three: COSATU`s primary objective is, and must continue to be, to defend, protect and advance the interests of members.

Conclusion Four: The TT found that everyone in the Federation acknowledges that there have always been internal differences on questions of policy and strategy since its formation as would be expected from a large Federation that draws its membership across all industries, provinces and viewpoints. However, the NOB`s agree that the task of leadership is to manage the diversity of opinion, identify the areas of broad consensus as captured in resolutions of the Federation and manage the internal dynamics carefully. This requires the NOB`s to play a key role as unifiers of the Federation.

Conclusion Five: The autonomy of affiliates must be respected and it be acknowledged that this autonomy must be exercised within the broad policies of the Federation and its Constitution. It is further emphasized that the Federation's constitution and principles are binding on all affiliates.

Conclusion Six: There is agreement that during this period of rebuilding unity, there must be a cessation of hostilities and that the Committee of ANC DSG and COSATU DGS will handle the current contraventions, perceived or real.

Conclusion Seven: There is agreement on the constitutional right of one third of affiliates to call for a special national congress. The TT notes that the NOBs recognise that the right for calling for a special national congress should be exercised with care, informed by clear intended outcomes and take into consideration all factors such as costs, logistics, etc. The NOBs recognise that the current request for a special national congress is perceived differently by affiliates and have created divisions and that it may lead to a split in COSATU. It was therefore the view of the NOB`s that the COSATU Central Committee`s main function is to assess and evaluate the implementation of current policies and resolutions. It was further agreed that political issues such as the NDR, NDP and the functioning of the Alliance need urgent engagement. It was the view of both the NOBs and ANC task team that the purpose a Special Congress should be to help the Federation to rebuild its unity and internal cohesion. The timing of the Congress, its precise agenda and purpose, will all be influenced by the outcome of the current internal process within COSATU and the engagement with the ANC Task team.

Conclusion Eight: There must be a process in place to deal with certain organizational and administrative matters; such as the pending disciplinary cases, the status of the second Deputy President, the Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo Report and others so as to bring these to closure.

Conclusion Nine: The Federation's staff must show impartiality in serving the office bearers and they should not become involved in activities that support one group in the Federation and the NOBs must take steps to ensure this impartiality.

Conclusion Ten: The CEC must unite around a fighting programme that encompasses the implementation of all the Federation's Resolutions and Policies, including its core campaigns in defence of workers

Conclusion Eleven: There is acknowledgement that the political differences on matters such as the direction of the NDR, the NDP and the functioning of the Alliance must be addressed in the Federation and through Alliance processes that will draw in all the Allies to develop mechanisms to address them. These matters must now receive priority in the work of the Alliance.

The CEC had an extensive discussion on ANC Task Team report and agreed that the report could not be discussed outside the agenda items which had been put in abeyance by the 8th April 2014 Special CEC. The Special CEC further agreed that because of time constraints, a further Special CEC was to be convened on the 7th November 2014 to discuss the agenda items which had been put in abeyance.

These included the following:

  1. NUMSA`s response to COSATU on why it should not be suspended or expelled.
  2. Status of the 2nd Deputy President
  3. President's report on the request of the Special National Congress
  4. Facilitated Process - a) Report by Charles Nupen and Mashishi on the unity and cohesion of the Federation; b) Forensic Report by the Sizwe Ntsabula Gobodo Firm of Auditors; b)Update
  5. Report on Litigation against COSATU
  6. Update on the Disciplinary processes against the COSATU General Secretary and the Staff member.

The new agenda item was to be the draft Secretariat report towards the Central Committee.

The South Gauteng High Court processes

As we were preparing towards the Special CEC on the 7th November 2014, the Federation received papers from the High Court, served on behalf of NUMSA.

Its primary intention was to interdict the sitting of the Special CEC to attend to NUMSA's presentation.

NUMSA was expected to make a presentation on why it should not be suspended or expelled for taking the following resolutions in its Special National Congress:

  1. The decision to call COSATU to break its alliance with the African National Congress (ANC)
  2. The decision to organise a march to COSATU House to coincide with the 1st CEC in February 2014
  3. The decision to hold back on paying affiliation fees to COSATU until the Special National Congress is held
  4. The decision to cease to pay its contribution into the COSATU/SACP levy
  5. The decision to extend its scope of operation into: glass production, sale and fitment; car valet and wash bay establishment; manufacture of jewellery, the refining of petrol, wholesale transportation, extraction and distribution of petrochemicals, mining and smelting of both base and precious metals; drivers that provide support to activities of NUMSA sectors; building and construction; auto industry textile, security, cleaning, canteen and health services that are covered by NUMSA scope; kiosks; industrial chemicals; alternative energy, information and communication technologies.

The Special CEC held on the 10th February 2014 had noted that the COSATU constitution as amended by the 9th Congress says that "Affiliates, including affiliates that are being orientated about the Federation, remain autonomous bodies governed by their own constitution but they must abide by this constitution and the policies of the Federation".
In this context the report pointed out that the word autonomous referred to in section 2.3 of COSATU constitution means that COSATU affiliates are independent, self-governing and self-ruling.

Meaning that affiliates will be governed by their own constitution and policies.

However, the section provides that although affiliates are independent, they are required to abide by COSATU constitution and policies.

It is now common knowledge that the High Court ruled that Special CEC should proceed with its sitting and attends to all agenda items.

Decisions of the Special Central Executive Committee held on the 7th November 2014

The agenda of this Special CEC held on the 7th November 2014, included all the items which were put in abeyance by the Special CEC held in 8th April 2014, which was intended to allow for the intervention of the African National Congress Task Team.

These included the following:

  1. *NUMSA's response on why it should not be suspended or expelled
  2. *The status of the second COSATU 2nd Deputy President
  3. *President's report on the request for the Special National Congress
  4. *Updates on the disciplinary processes against the COSATU General Secretary and the staff members
  5. *Update report on the litigation against COSATU.
  6. *Report by the ANC Task Team
  7. *Signing off the draft Secretariat Report to the Central Committee

NUMSA was given an opportunity to present on the reasons why it should not be suspended or expelled.
Indeed, NUMSA made a presentation to the CEC and the CEC discussed the presentation and came to a conclusion that NUMSA be expelled.

NUMSA was also advised that in terms of the constitution they have a right to appeal to the National Congress.

Managing the process moving forward

The decision to expel NUMSA is a CEC decisions and is binding to all the structures of the Federation and its leaders.

All expected to observe it without exception.

The Federation will be convening structural meetings at all levels to explain the decision of the Special CEC.

This as a practice and tradition of the Federation will also apply to affiliates.

More work needs to be done, to unite the Affiliates within the fold of the Federation.

We are calling on all our members across all sectors of the economy to remain focussed on building the unity of their own Unions, and their own COSATU.

We call on all Affiliates to focus their resources and energies in addressing the burning issues of workers at all workplaces.

This decision has not been taken lightly and all who engage with it are expected to do so in accordance with the expected conduct of a COSATU cadre which must show high levels of organisational discipline

One thing is certain; the Federation will emerge from the current challenges even stronger, without sacrificing an inch of our policies and principles.

Employers must continue to feel the hegemonic presence of our Unions, even as the Federation navigates solutions on the current challenges.

Unity of COSATU remains sacrosanct!

Ntai Norman Mampane (Communications Officer)
Congress of South African Trade Unions

Numsa Press Statement on expulsion from Cosatu

November 9, 2014
NUMSA Press Statement

What we have warned the South African workers and broader public about has come to pass. The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) with its 350 000 members was expelled as an affiliate by the federation COSATU in the early hours of Saturday morning (after 1am) 8th November 2014 at a Special Central Executive Committee meeting (SCEC).

This expulsion took place through a vote which was 33 for our expulsion and 24 against.

We have convened this press conference to state for the record our anger and dismay at this and factional irresponsible action.  We want to be on record to say; What happened in the early hours of Saturday morning was that a few leaders (many with no mandates from their own structures) decided the future of 2.2 million COSATU members in a boardroom through a vote.

Numsa's application for urgent relief

It would be remembered that Numsa went to the South Gauteng High Court on 6th November 2014 to request the courts of law to rescue Numsa from a Kangaroo Court that was to be convened as a Special Central Executive Committee of Cosatu. Some media reports and the President of Cosatu went public to falsely claim that the court ruled against Numsa's application. If truth be told, the attorneys of Numsa and Cosatu presented the Judge with the following agreement;

  1. That Numsa's application be postponed and that the Judge do not making a ruling on urgency.
  2. That Cosatu's letter of 11th February 2014 making reference to 5 charges that Numsa must answer to should not be so wide as to say "but not limited to". Numsa should only address the 5 charges as per the Cosatu letter of 11th February 2014.
  3. That cost be reserved.

For Numsa this was enough of a victory because for close to a year Numsa has been asking the Cosatu National Office Bearers to provide the real and actual reasons why Numsa would be suspended or expelled. Cosatu failed up to 6th November 2014 to show Numsa the courtesy and decency of a reply. It took a High Court to limit the charges made by Cosatu against Numsa to 5 issues.

Numsa's submission to Cosatu

Numsa had been asked to explain to the SCEC why it should not be expelled, which we did very comprehensively, providing a detailed dispassionate analysis of our political and organisational analysis in relation to working class struggles.  (See Numsa General Secretary Presentation to Cosatu CEC)

We founded this federation.  It is a federation that is governed by a constitution that provides for a minimum number of affiliates democratically requesting a constitutional meeting, especially the convening of a Special National Congress, if the need arises.

Our request for a Special National Congress, given the untenable situation the federation finds itself in, is in line with the constitutional provisions of COSATU.  We are in an untenable situation in relation to:

  • How the policies of the ruling party, the African National Congress, negatively affect the working class;
  • And how the leadership of affiliates and the Federation respond to these anti-working class policies.

The Numsa demands at the CEC are all located within the COSATU constitution but the leadership of the Federation has continued to violate its own constitution

One of the most important reasons for the tensions around all the constitutional violations is a political division between those who support the interests of the working class, as our Constitution requires us to do, and those who are prepared to sacrifice those interests for an alliance with the ANC and SACP.

The `hearing' against Numsa on Friday 7th November 2014 in the SCEC was not a fair hearing as the decision to expel Numsa had already been decided by some affiliate leaders using many different platforms over the past year.

In fact even members of the ANC task team, who had intervened in the COSATU CEC process of dealing with Numsa, themselves demonstrated their bias against Numsa and its congress resolutions.

Numsa's biggest crime has been to democratically, in its own congress, argue for the political independence of the Federation, given the worsening material conditions of the working class as a result of neo-liberal ANC policies.  We have noted with grave concern how our congress resolutions have been misrepresented and distorted.

Numsa has always intended to procedurally argue for its congress resolutions to be democratically debated by workers at a COSATU Special National Congress (SNC).  All attempts to stop the SNC are linked to a fear of the outcomes of democratic debate by workers about their political and material future.

Numsa wants to state for the record some key areas of struggle with the ANC, SACP and NOB's of some affiliates and NOB's COSATU:

  1. Numsa is concerned that key policies of the ANC; the NDP, which is a cut and paste of DA policy, and GEAR, have replaced the Freedom Charter.  The Freedom Charter gave the ANC its liberation character. It is a militant, popular programme which challenged property relations in South Africa.  The NDP is a neoliberal programme which entrenches existing property relations and attacks the working class and the poor in the interests of mining and finance capital.
  2. The ANC leadership has abandoned democracy
  3. There is a serious threat to Cosatu's militancy and independence.  Cosatu has become consumed by internal battles between two forces:  *Those who continue to support the ANC and SACP, with their neoliberal agenda   *And those who, despite their understanding of the ANC as a multi-class organisation, consciously and consistently fight for an independent, militant Federation which stands for the interests of the working class before any other class.
  4. Both at Marikana and in the farmworkers strike in the Western Cape, the armed forces of the state intervened in support of the owners of capital against striking workers. In both instances the result was the murder of workers whose only crime was to refuse to sell their labour for less than a living wage.

The inconsistency on how affiliates are treated demonstrates a well-orchestrated agenda against Numsa. Other affiliates have rejected the Alliance and have not been threatened with similar sanction. There are three known examples of this which include:

  1. Numsa itself in 1993 resolved to canvass Cosatu and its affiliates to support our position that we break with the Alliance and to form a Workers Party. Cosatu affiliates democratically engaged with this debate in the Federation's National Congress and it is common cause that Numsa lost that debate in Cosatu, yet no strong arm tactics were ever applied to deal with Numsa's democratically arrived at decision.
  2. SASBO applied to become an affiliate of COSATU and is now an affiliate. Its constitution specifies that it "shall not belong to or support any political party". It does not contribute to the COSATU Political Fund. The leadership of Cosatu at that time were prioritising unity of the working class. We can't say the same of the current leadership. Yet again SASBO had not been dragged in to a Kangaroo Court.
  3. On the 9th of March in 2011, Samwu issued a public press statement which directly confronted the status of the Federation in the tripartite alliance. It listed the failures of the ANC.  It then recorded that the union resolved: "In  the spirit of Samwu's commitment to support the ANC in the forthcoming elections, we find it impossible to convince our members and the community to do this until the issues mentioned above are resolved. We thus call upon the ANC leadership to intervene urgently to address our concerns."

Other affiliates violate Federation policy without consequence.  Some examples of this include:

  1. Num has on several occasions disagreed with the COSATU position on nationalization
  2. Popcru has spoken against the COSATU campaign on e-tolls

There has been no call made for their expulsion.

Numsa is in good standing and there has been no threat of expulsion of the many other affiliates who have not been in good standing in the past.  We have paid up both our subscriptions and the COSATU/SACP political levy.  It is in fact SATAWU and Popcru who have outstanding levies to pay over to the federation.  However Numsa is being asked to continue paying over a levy to the SACP which continues to threaten to liquidate the union and has publicly declared that it will intervene in the Federation to isolate what it called a "lingering irritation".

Of the different issues that Numsa must account for to the COSATU CEC the one that appears to be driving the call for our expulsion is the decision to expand our scope of organizing.

We have provided a comprehensive presentation that demonstrated:

  1. How value chain organising already exists and is being used by a number of affiliates and new unions
  2. That other affiliates organize across sectors and compete with one another and there is no sanction from the federation
  3. Almost all constitutions of affiliates overlap in scope and to date the federation has not addressed this
  4. There are many overlaps in scope that have led to conflict amongst affiliates
  5.  A detailed list showing that the vast majority of affiliates have amended their scope to infringe on others

We want to reiterate for the record that workers are approaching us and asking us to organize them. We are not poaching.  We provided evidence of this to the SCEC.Also for the record we want to repeat our position about the unconstitutional and divisive conduct of the COSATU leadership and some un-mandated leaders in the CEC:

  1. The President of COSATU has violated the constitution when he refused to convene the SNC since FAWU made the first call in April 2013 and eight (8) other affiliates followed the call thereby meeting the constitutional threshold.
  2. COSATU CEC deciding not convene the SNC when it had no powers to do so
  3. Suspended the COSATU General Secretary who had to be reinstated through the South Gauteng High Court
  4. The continued presence of Zingiswa Losi in all constitutional meetings in her capacity as 2nd Deputy President despite the fact that she has ceased to be a member of an affiliate
  5. Acted in bad faith in the process of seeking to expel Numsa
  6. Failed in their duties of unifying the working class
  7. It is becoming a common practice that workers control, open debate and criticism and the right to differ in the Federation are suppressed

We told the COSATU SCEC on Friday night that they are more loyal to an alliance of the ANC and SACP than they are to the working class.

We told the COSATU SCEC on Friday night that they want to expel us because we constantly remind them how they are failing to protect the interests of the working class, which includes both the employed and the unemployed.

What are we going to do about our expulsion?  As a worker controlled organisation we are going to convene Numsa constitutional meetings and mass meetings to develop a program of how we move forward and how we continue to raise our voices on working class struggles.  This fight is not over!

The Numsa leadership calls on all Numsa members across the length and breadth of the country to remain united.  We further call on all workers across all affiliates of COSATU to remain united and to reject the illegal expulsion of Numsa by a factional group of leaders led by the COSATU President.

Today it is sad to see leaders who are hell bent on violating the COSATU constitution at every turn to serve their selfish political interest.

Today we see leaders who can knowingly destroy the federation of Barhayi & Gomomo.  A federation built on the sacrifices, sweat and blood of so many workers who have come before us.

Numsa's leadership remain resolute that we shall continue serving in COSATU structures in different capacities as we will challenge the boardroom dismantling of our federation.

We urge our local and provincial leadership to attend all the COSATU meetings in their numbers as we will not be pushed out by a now hidden now open agenda to split the federation.  We remind our local and provincial leadership that there are many COSATU affiliates who are also prepared to fight to reclaim and unit our federation.

We know there is a special project of individuals who are ex-Numsa and ex-COSATU leaders, (many of whom have been rewarded with big positions in parliament and legislatures), who are working externally with the leaders in the COSATU CEC, ANC and SACP to liquidate Numsa.  They are now going to try to get into our workplaces.  They will try to get into our workplaces using the union they set up called Mewusa.  We are prepared to fight back.

COSATU's decision to expel Numsa must be understood for what it is - a well co-ordinated reactionary attack on the organisation of workers - an attack on COSATU, an attack on the poor and an attack on workers.

These reactionary forces that have been plotting within the alliance to destroy the unity of COSATU are doing this for their own selfish material interest.  This COSATU boardroom struggle is not about workers interest.

What we must give them credit for is that they managed to achieve what the apartheid regime failed to do which was to destroy a federation that had been both a shield and spear in the hands of workers and in the consciousness of the nation.

We call on all workers to stand together to remain united and fighting till the bitter end.  All workers must join metal workers in dislodging boardroom wedge drivers who can expel and dismiss workers because they demand democratic worker control of unions.  These boardroom wedge drivers have long forgotten that the task of unions is to:

  • serve the interest of workers
  • champion shopfloor struggles
  • link shopfloor struggles with community struggles
  • pursue a revolutionary agenda through campaigns that must be taken forward as resolved in the COSATU 11th congress

Numsa leadership across the length and breadth of this country will be convening open shopsteward council meetings and open general members meetings.  These meetings will be open to all COSATU members so that they can understand why they also should be fighting our illegal suspension.

We will in addition be explaining our SNC resolutions to all workers in these meetings and explain the underlying political struggle in the federation.

Numsa leadership calls on all our structures to intensify service delivery to our members in line with our Service Charter adopted at our December 2013 SNC.  We must forge ahead with our recruitment target of 400 000 by 2016.  We make a clarion call to all workers interested in a militant worker controlled union to join Numsa in their numbers

We call on all metalworkers to remain vigilant in these testing times as the wedge-drivers move out of the COSATU boardroom and attempt to move into our workplaces.  They will be driven out of Numsa workplaces.  This we are confident of.

There is no turning back on the Numsa SNC resolutions and in line with these resolutions we are going to launch a national united front in December 2014.

We shall consolidate our work on the Movement for Socialism in the March 2015 Central Committee of Numsa.

We remain committed to exploring an independent working class political organ.

Our solidarity is our strength.  Our unity is our strength.

Issued by Numsa's National Office Bearers (NOBs')

Castro Ngobese, National Spokesperson, 083 627 5197

Reaction to the Developments in COSATU

By Gwede Mantashe, Secretary General, African National Congress

November 10, 2014
African National Congress

The outcome of the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of COSATU, specifically the expulsion of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) is disappointing and tragic. From its inception, COSATU was established to advance worker solidarity in order to unite and organise workers and the working class to improve their conditions. Our view as the African National Congress is, and has always been, that we must support COSATU in its historic mission to consolidate and advance worker unity. As such, as an organisation we will resist any temptation to engage in the current dispute characterised by mudslinging and insults against individuals or components of the Tripartite Alliance. We reaffirm our position that the expulsion of NUMSA from the Federation is bad for the COSATU itself, it is bad for the ANC, bad for the Alliance, the progressive forces as well as for society in general.

Within this context and given the challenges faced by COSATU, the ANC had established a task team led by the Deputy President to mediate and assist to address some challenges facing COSATU and the differences amongst its affiliates. The intention was to persuade comrades to avoid a split in the federation at all cost. Given the not so easy task of building unity, the ANC Task Team met with all nineteen COSATU affiliates. The report of the task team to the COSATU CEC sought to provide suggestions on how to deal with the conflict within the Federation. Amongst the suggestions offered was that NUMSA reverses its decision to extend its scope beyond its identified industry and subject itself to the discipline, principles and regulations of the Federation. In the context of seeking to preserve unity, COSATU was also advised to be sensitive to the political implications of the case facing its General Secretary. As such the Federation should not be mechanical in its approach but mindful of its long-term implications.

We don`t believe that the challenges facing the Federation are insurmountable nor the differences irreconcilable. Allowing a split in the Federation can only help the historic enemies of the Alliance from both the left and right of the political spectrum. This development can never be celebrated, it in fact calls upon all of us to work hard to find each other. The ANC will continue to engage the Federation to conduct a detailed analysis of the impact of this decision. The ANC will further engage with all the affiliates with a view of consolidating unity.

The ideological and class character of the ANC has always been contested given different class interests. The ANC remains a disciplined force of the left, biased towards working class and poor. The working class, and workers in particular, remains a critical motive force of the NDR and the ANC prides itself as the champion of their rights and interests. Constructive contestations are healthy and must always be appreciated within the context of the democratic character of the movement; equally we must protect the movement against any attack to its profound principles. As we work hard to find solutions we must be vigilant of any strategies and plans to destroy the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the Alliance at all costs.

The attacks on the ANC by NUMSA are unfounded. The ANC remains committed to and continues to pursue the implementation of the Freedom Charter. The ANC has scored remarkable achievements in the past twenty years and acknowledges that much more needs to be done. In its 53rd National Conference, the ANC adopted the NDP as the framework to move South Africa forward and to increase investment, skills development, job creation and the elimination of poverty. Therefore, the NDP is by no means a neo-liberal ideological programme but a plan to implement the ideals of Freedom Charter.

The conflict in COSATU must be treated as a conflict inside the Federation in which the ANC Task Team remains available to assist in the resolution thereof and ensure reconciliation and the building of unity and cohesion in the Federation.