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Mantashe: Numsa members will still support the ANC

Verashni Pillay

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe is expecting individual metal workers to still vote ANC despite a boycott by their union Numsa.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe. (Gallo)

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe on Tuesday shrugged off the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa​ (Numsa)'s recently announced boycott of election campaigning on behalf of the party.

"When they said individual member can do what they want to do it means metal workers will campaign for the ANC," said Mantashe, speaking at a media photo opportunity following the ruling party's two-day national executive committee meeting in Nelspruit this week. "The only thing they will withhold is their money. I was trying to think back: how much has Numsa given us in the last election?" he asked to laughs. "But it's symbolic for them to have that pronouncement that they will not give money to the ANC."

Trade union federation Cosatu's largest affiliate, Numsa, will not campaign for the ANC next year or support the party financially, the union resolved at a special national congress towards the end of December, the Mail & Guardian reported.

It also decided to withhold its R800 000 monthly subscription to Cosatu.

"Numsa as an organisation will neither endorse nor support the ANC or any other political party in 2014," general secretary Irvin Jim told journalists at the time.

He said Numsa officials or workers could campaign for the ANC but would have to do this "in their own time and using their own resources".

Optimistic
But Mantashe has read the union's controversial decision optimistically.

"For us, if they allow individual metal-workers to campaign for the ANC it is quite important because in any case, unions do not have a block vote – whether in the ANC or in the elections. Individual citizens who are organised with the trade unions do go and campaign and vote."

Numsa under Jim has rallied against both Cosatu and the ANC following the suspension of Zwelinzima Vavi. Jim has since lambasted the party, but chosen to stay in Cosatu without actively supporting the ANC."It is clear that the working class cannot any longer see the ANC or the SACP [South African Communist Party] as its class allies in any meaningful sense," Jim said at the union's conference in December.

Numsa also resolved to persuade Cosatu to break off its alliance with the ANC and the SACP, which it claims has been co-opted by right-wing forces. Instead, Numsa plans to establish a new "united front" that will co-ordinate struggles in the workplace and in communities in a similar way to the United Democratic Front in the 1980s.

Call to resign
Jim has called on Zuma, who was booed at a memorial for anti-apartheid legend Nelson Mandela on December 10, to resign.

But Mantashe insisted that the party's upcoming manifesto launch and January 8 statement at the Mbombela stadium in Mpumalanga, led by Zuma, would be packed to its 40 000-strong capacity.

"We are expecting the stadium to be full and overflowing," he told journalists. "[The] ANC fills a stadium and if it is not full there will be something wrong." 

The ruling party is facing waning support with a real fear that it will dip to as low as 55% of the vote in the upcoming national elections. 


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