Cosatu in the red, with over R15-million owed to it

Labour federation Cosatu is owed over R15-million in rent and subscription fees by its affiliates, according to the federation’s deputy general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali.  

Cosatu publicly admitted on Thursday it was facing financial difficulties, and that it was looking for long-term solutions like creating more investment companies, to arrest the dire situation. 

The Sowetan reported on Thursday that the federation was considering pushing its employees to communicate via Skype and mobile  messaging application WhatsApp Messenger, to cut telephone bills. It also wants to look for a cheaper DStv option for their office bearers and freeze key positions and salary increases. 

Staff retrenchments are also on a list of cost-cutting measures being considered. 

But Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini ruled out the possibility of doing away with the R4.5-million political levy, which is used, among other things, for bankrolling the ANC’s election campaign and supporting some of the South African Communist Party’s political programmes.  


Cosatu held a financial committee meeting last week at which it forecast a R4-million deficit for 2015, according to Business Day. This was due to Cosatu having been able to effect only a slight increase in affiliation fees, as well as not getting R1-million a month in affiliation fees from the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, along with legal expenses and other costs. 

Exorbitant rental
Ntshalintshali said that Cosatu has not been able to cope with the R10-million annual rental at its new offices in Braamfontein.

“We did not have to pay this much before – it is now impacting on our finances, especially [as we had] not planned for it in [our] subscription fees. 

When we opted for hire places like this [the new building], we did not budget for it. We never planned to pay rent because the building was owned by Kopano Ke Matla, Cosatu’s investment arm,” said Ntshalintshali.

He said initially the investment company undertook to pay for Cosatu’s operational costs, but later said Cosatu must foot the bill itself. Ntshalintshali said another thing that contributed to Cosatu’s financial woes was that it was unable to find clients to rent space at the new offices.

“For example, we wanted to use the whole second floor for activities like education. But we are unable to market it. We can’t have a boardroom, which we are using once [every three months]. 

“It’s a question of looking at our expenditure. We have the canteen here, for example. This people here are cooking and selling food, but they do it for free. They use electricity and water for free. These are some of the things that Cuba Properties, which runs the building with Kopano Ke Matla, should look at.”

Ntshalintshali says that there are unions occupying office space at the building – but aren’t paying rent. 

“The SACP is not paying, but we have their money from the political levy. The SACP is not a big issue, but other unions like Pawusa [the Public and Allied Workers Union of South Africa] and SAFPU [the South African Football Players Union] are. If unions were to pay what they owe Cosatu, it will be rich. If unions don’t pay, Cosatu will not survive.”

‘Wrong decisions’ to blame
Dlamini indirectly blamed Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi for the federation’s financial mess. Vavi has been under investigation since last year for the sale of Cosatu’s old building and the purchase of the new one.

“We find ourselves [in this situation] because of wrong decisions that were taken before,” said Dlamini during Cosatu’s post central executive committee press conference in Johannesburg on Thursday.

The Cosatu leaders accused Vavi of failing to answer questions by Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo auditors. The auditing firm was responsible for a forensic report – which allegedly implicates Vavi – into alleged impropriety in the sale of Cosatu’s old head office, and the purchase of a new one.

Cosatu also announced it would hold its long awaited special national congress in July.

The federation also lashed out at Vavi for snubbing the central executive committee meeting, which took place from Monday to Wednesday this week. Vavi boycotted the meeting in solidarity with seven ‘rebel’ unions  which have vowed not to attend Cosatu meetings until Numsa is reinstated.

“The [CEC] meeting expressed deep concern against the general secretary of the federation, who continues to conduct himself in a manner that sought to define himself either above the organisation or to act outside the discipline of collective leadership. He has not attended three meetings, including this CEC, at which he was expected to play his leadership role,” said Ntshalintshali.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Matuma Letsoala
Guest Author

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

ANC’s rotten apples on the chopping block

Now that the NEC has finalised its step-aside guidelines for those facing corruption charges, a swathe of officials will struggle to cling to their positions

Sisulu and Dlodlo punted to be on their way out

Because President Cyril Ramaphosa won the step-aside order in the ANC’s national executive committee, a cabinet reshuffle looms, with Sisulu and Dlodlo’s names on comrades’ lips

More top stories

Analysts expecting another attack ‘in the next few months’ in...

The extremist insurgency in Mozambique has been an ongoing threat since 2017. SADC needs to act now, say analysts

SIU probes how master of the high court fleeces the...

While the SIU delves into dozens of allegations of fraud, corruption and misconduct against officials at the master of the high court, many families have been left destitute after the death of their loved ones.

Somi’s Holy Room breaks the sounds of silence

Somi’s latest album, recorded live with a big band, was released as an ode to music-starved fans and empty theatres

New cyber scam targets property sales

Suspects appear in court on charges of fraud and forgery to intercept payments for title deed transfers and associated legal fees
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…