President Jacob Zuma has received a major boost in his bid for a second term from an unlikely quarter: the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), which has been highly critical of his leadership style and his administration’s so-called anti-worker policies such as labour broking and the youth wage subsidy.
Numsa is the first affiliate of the labour union federation Cosatu to announce its support for Zuma’s re-election ahead of the party’s elective congress in Mangaung in December. Other major Cosatu affiliates that are expected to throw their weight behind Zuma include the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union.
Cosatu, which until now has maintained that it did not want to discuss ANC leadership issues as it did prior to Polokwane, is likely to decide at its national congress in September whether or not to support Zuma’s re-election.
The South African Communist Party (SACP) has been openly supportive of Zuma for a second term as ANC president.
The call to retain Zuma and other preferred candidates for the ANC national executive committee’s top six positions is made in Numsa’s policy discussion documents prepared for its national congress next week in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
The policy discussion documents will be presented by Numsa’s general secretary, Irvin Jim, who is perceived by many in the ANC, the SACP and the NUM to be close to the ANC Youth League and supportive of its call for Zuma’s removal.
The union’s central committee recommends that Zuma be retained as ANC president, with Kgalema Motlanthe as deputy president, Gwede Mantashe as secretary general and Matthews Phosa as treasurer.
It further recommends well-respected Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for the position of ANC national chairperson and that the current national chairperson, Baleka Mbete, should replace Thandi Modise as deputy secretary general.
The union also identified former sports minister Makhenkesi Stofile for the position of national chairperson in the event that Dlamini-Zuma was appointed chair of the African Union Commission at the next African Union summit in Lilongwe, Malawi, in July.
Numsa warns, however, that this is merely a recommendation of the candidates for discussion by ANC structures ahead of Mangaung and not a nomination for positions. The ANC’s nominations process officially opens in October.
To influence the ANC
“The 2012 Numsa congress has a duty to debate the leadership of the ANC we elected at Polokwane and to emerge with consensus to guide our own members and to influence the federation Cosatu in a particular direction,” said Jim in the discussion documents seen by the Mail & Guardian.
“We must also debate strategies and tactics as to how best to influence the ANC: Do we go public or do we influence the ANC quietly? We must answer the question: Did these comrades that we elected in 2007 live up to these criteria of the federation?
“Besides the top six, what has been our experience of those that we have deployed in key sites of power as ministers, or maybe we should ask the question: Have we defeated palace politics as we were warned by our vanguard or are we back in the palace again?”
Numsa said it was aware of the leadership’s position on nationalisation, but argued that it would continue to lobby for support for the wholesale nationalisation of the mines and other key strategic sectors of the economy.
The NUM, on the other hand, supports the ANC research team’s “State Intervention in the Mining Sector” report, which, among other things, proposes a 50% supertax on all mining profits and the reduction of royalties from 4% to 1%.
“We further always remind the liberation movement in general and the ANC in particular of its historic mission: that of ensuring the fundamental liberation of blacks in general and Africans in particular by ensuring that we realise all the objectives of the Freedom Charter. Put bluntly, the ANC must nationalise mines and key sectors of the economy – what we call the commanding heights of the economy,” said Jim.
In recent months, Numsa has been under sustained attack from the SACP for supporting the ANC Youth League’s call for nationalisation. Some of its leadership have accused Jim of being part of a new culture of tenderpreneurs, of being a demagogue and of suffering from extreme-left tendencies.
The union said the relationship between Numsa and the SACP’s respective national leaders had completely collapsed as a result of these attacks.
This strained relationship is likely to become even worse because Numsa is not backing down on what it calls the “wholesale migration of the entire leadership of the SACP into government and Parliament”.
Nzimande to step down
Numsa has also reiterated its call for SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande to step down from his position as higher education minister so that he can assume his party position on a full-time basis.
“At the time of writing this report, having been mandated by both the national executive committee and the central committee of Numsa, we tried in vain to secure a bilateral meeting with the SACP to discuss this bad relationship,” said Jim.
Numsa president Cedric Gina and Jim are expected to retain their positions uncontested.
The Numsa conference, which starts on June 4, will be addressed by Zuma and Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, among others.