‘Cosatu isn’t falling apart’

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) is not falling apart, it said on Wednesday in a statement.

This followed a full-page advertisement in the Sowetan earlier by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), which partially dealt with the race for the position of Cosatu general secretary, presently held by Zwelinzima Vavi.

Numsa’s general secretary Irvin Jim has recently emerged as a frontrunner in the challenge to Vavi, who has made himself available to stand again for the same position.

Elections were expected to take place in October next year.

In the advertisement, Numsa said that it had become aware that “representatives of certain factional and class interests” both in and outside of the media had chosen to target Jim as an individual for “attack, negative labelling and character assassination”.

Waiting for ‘the right time’
Numsa added that the purpose of the attacks was to tarnish the character of Jim so that he would not qualify for the position of Cosatu general secretary.

Numsa was also convinced that there were forces in the union federation and the media that wished to destroy Jim’s capacity to “defend and advance the interests of all the working class of South Africa in general and the members of trade unions in particular”.

Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven, however, explained that Wednesday’s advertisement was the same as the press statement Numsa had issued on August 5.

“This led to the statement issued by Cosatu on August 7, which restated its call on all structures of the alliance not to engage in discussions about the leadership elections of the ANC or its allies.”

Craven reiterated that there would be no succession debate in Cosatu “until the right time” and that the current general secretary would stand for re-election if nominated by the unions “just like anybody else”.

No more adverts
Craven added that Cosatu had on Monday discussed the matter with Numsa.

The trade union earlier on Wednesday explained to the union federation that the Sowetan was already printing the edition in which the advertisement appeared when the discussions on Monday were finalised late.

Cosatu welcomed an assurance by Numsa that they would issue “no further advertisements” so that discussions could continue internally.

“Cosatu wishes to assure its members and supporters that the federation is not falling apart, and that this round of statements merely reflects some areas of difficulty but not a free fall within the federation.

“We wish to assure all that the leadership of the federation is on top of the situation,” Craven said. — I-Net Bridge

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Janice Roberts
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