Numsa may withhold R2m poll cash

The National Union of ­Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) plans to withhold the R2-million budgeted for the ANC's election campaign if the union's special congress in December endorses the decision of its central executive committee (CEC) not to campaign for the ruling party.

Numsa has warned it will not campaign for the ANC if the party includes the National Development Plan (NDP) in its current form in its election manifesto, to be launched during the party's annual January 8 statement early next year.

Numsa, which is trade union federation Cosatu's largest affiliate with 330 000 members, has criticised the NDP, saying it is based on Democratic Alliance policies and neoliberalism.

"The central executive committee has already taken a decision not to campaign for the ANC because of the NDP," Numsa treasurer general Mphumzi Maqungo said this week.

"But the final decision will be taken by the special congress in December. If our members say we should campaign for the ANC, who are we to say no? But if they say we should not campaign, then we won't campaign."

Other Cosatu affiliates unhappy with the NDP include the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) and the Food & Allied Workers Union (Fawu). Both Fawu and Samwu this week said they had not taken any decision on whether or not to campaign for the ANC if the NDP is included in its election manifesto.

Maqungo said the union had budgeted more than R2-million to campaign for the ANC ahead of next year's general election. He said all Cosatu affiliates contributed to a political levy that was mainly used to campaign for the ANC.

Documents seen by the Mail & Guardian show that Cosatu affiliates have so far paid just more than R3-million towards the 2013 political levy. The total expected figure for the political levy for this year alone is R8-million.

Maqungo warned that the withdrawal of Numsa's contribution would have a huge impact on the ANC's campaign.

"The union spent close to R2-million campaigning for the ANC during the local government election in 2011," he said. "Our budget for the election was R1-million, but we spent way beyond that. Remember, there were challenges in the Western and Eastern Cape, especially in Nelson Mandela Bay. We had to put in more resources than we budgeted for.

"What we normally do during elections is hire cars, buy T-shirts, food, airtime, and pay for accommodation and transport for workers doing door-to-door campaigning for the ANC.

"The leadership of the ANC and South African Communist Party is able to negotiate lower prices with General Motors only through us.

"During the previous election, we would go to a company employing our members and get 8 000 workers to vote for the ANC.

"We spoke to provinces and local municipalities. The build-up to the rallies ahead of the election was organised by us."

Maqungo said Nelson Mandela Bay was "under threat of being taken over by the opposition in 2011, but we worked flat out to win the metro. We thought the ANC would have realised by now that our contribution is key.

"In the Western Cape, we never lost hope [despite the fact that the Democratic Alliance is dominant]," said Maqungo.  "But the ANC still downplays our contribution."

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Matuma Letsoala
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