High court orders Cosatu to hold special national congress

Cosatu boss Sdumo Dlamini says he was planning to hold a special national congress in July all along. (Madelene Cronje, MG)

Cosatu boss Sdumo Dlamini says he was planning to hold a special national congress in July all along. (Madelene Cronje, MG)

The high court in Johannesburg has ordered Cosatu to hold a special national congress in July, but the trade union federation claims it was planning to do so all along.

The court handed down a declaratory order on Monday and Cosatu has agreed to the order.

The Mail & Guardian reported last year that Cosatu had agreed to hold the special congress. The expelled National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and seven unions had asked the court to force Cosatu to hold the congress.

The eight unions filed court papers in November last year to force Cosatu to do so, shortly after Numsa’s expulsion. 

Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini also committed in September to holding the congress

After the court order was handed down on Monday morning, acting Cosatu spokesperson Norman Mampane said the federation had planned to hold the congress all along.

“Part of the agenda of the next central executive committee meeting is organising the special national congress. So the court did not arrive at something that is new to us,” Mampane said.

While Cosatu agreed to the order, Numsa’s general secretary, Irvin Jim said he did not believe Cosatu would have done so had the matter not landed up in court.

Jim said the metalworkers’ union would still challenge its suspension in court.

Asked what he hoped would be discussed at the special congress, Jim said it should be held as a “matter of principle”.

He said a third of Cosatu affiliates wanted the congress, which he said should discuss workers’ programmes and “leadership issues”.

Jim accused Cosatu’s Dlamini of running the federation on a “factional basis” and said the congress should restore unity to the affiliates.

“We have no confidence in Dlamini’s leadership,” he said.

Sarah Evans

Sarah Evans

Sarah Evans interned at the Diamond Fields Advertiser in Kimberley for three years before completing an internship at the Mail & Guardian Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane). She went on to work as a Mail & Guardian news reporter with areas of interest including crime, law, governance and the nexus between business and politics.  Read more from Sarah Evans

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