The dangerous game of political chess in trade union federation Cosatu continues as metalworkers union Numsa filed an urgent interdict at the high court in Johannesburg to stop the crucial Friday meeting in which they are expected to be expelled.
This was confirmed by the National Union of Metalworkers South Africa general secretary, Irvin Jim, in an interview with the Mail & Guardian on Monday.
“The reason why we decided to interdict is that we know Numsa will never get a fair hearing,” he said.
This comes on the backdrop of the National Education, Health, and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) openly declaring war with Numsa and calling for its expulsion.
On Tuesday, Nehawu general secretary Bereng Soke read the national executive committee’s statement calling for Numsa to be “surgically removed” from Cosatu. This was not the first time Nehawu leaders have made such pronouncements.
Survival at stake
Cosatu affiliates are expected to vote on whether they believe Numsa should be expelled from the trade union federation this Friday.
“The disorderly and anarchical actions of Numsa have placed the federation in a position where its long term survival is at stake,” Soke said.
Jim reacted, saying this reinforced their argument that Numsa would never get a fair hearing at the special Cosatu central executive committee (CEC) meeting. “This is what this gang has been doing all along … it is not new. They want Numsa out.”
Jim said they believed the meeting was unlawful and illegal and that was why they approached the courts.
Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini confirmed to the M&G that Cosatu received Numsa’s court papers. “Our lawyers are responding to it … we are opposing it because they have no grounds.”.
Dlamini was adamant that the scheduled meeting would go ahead.
Nehawu argued that Cosatu had to choose between “long-term survival” or the “corrosion of its founding principles”. It was quite simple, the union said – expel Numsa.
“We believe that it is simply unrealistic and untenable for Cosatu to be expected to continue to endure and tolerate a situation where the leadership of Numsa is endlessly allowed to publicly renounced and mobilise against the democratically adopted organisational, ideological and political policies,” Soke said.
At the special CEC meeting last month, a motion was called for, and later abandoned, to have Numsa expelled from Cosatu. The matter was deferred to the meeting on Friday.