Numsa and labour registrar at odds over union finances

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), the country’s largest union, is again in trouble with the labour registrar, according to a letter from the regulatory authority for the country’s trade unions.

The letter indicates that financial statements submitted by Numsa for 2009 to 2015 do not comply with the law.

The labour registrar appears to be cracking the whip on the country’s unions, with at least three Cosatu-aligned unions as well as the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) being called out by the authority for failing to comply with the law.

The letter, which the Mail & Guardian has seen, was signed on May 10, two days after the Numsa-aligned Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party performed poorly in the 2019 election.

The party failed to obtain enough votes to attain a single seat in Parliament.


The registrar’s correspondence comes two weeks before Numsa enters its negotiating season in four key sectors. It is not the first time Numsa is at odds with the registrar, with similar problems raised in 2012.

In the letter, the registrar says Numsa’s audited financial statements does not comply with the Section 98 of the Labour Relations Act for the period between 2009 and 2015, which relates to audit opinions of its subscriptions from members. The queries are largely over the fact that the explanations for spending and expenditure do not appear on the auditors own letterhead.

The registrar has requested explanations for a number of additions and omissions, saying these should have been made by the auditors on their own letterheads.

The union’s audited financial statements have also not been submitted for 2016 and 2017.

The registrar has further asked the union to provide its total membership per sector for 2016, 2017 and 2018 as they remain outstanding. It has also asked for information on its elections.

Numsa treasurer Mphumzi Maqungo told the M&G on Monday that the move by the registrar was “politically motivated”, and that Numsa had complied with the law in terms of the law. He said some of the issues raised were historical and date back to 2006, before the current leadership took over the running of the union. Other issues also related to the administration involved when Numsa expanded its scope to organise across sectors after its landmark 2013 special congress.

The union is expected to meet the labour registrar later this month to iron out the matters raised in the letter.

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Natasha Marrian
Natasha Marrian
Marrian has built a reputation as an astute political journalist, investigative reporter and commentator. Until recently she led the political team at Business Day where she also produced a widely read column that provided insight into the political spectacle of the week.

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