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South Africa: Slow-motion disintegration of COSATU likely to continue

COSATU's highly respected national spokesperson, Patrick Craven, announced his resignation, after Vavi's expulsion noting: 'I could not defend the indefensible.' Several other senior COSATU figures are also discussing whether to take a similar step."

By Terry Bell, Cape Town

April 6, 2015 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The fact that COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has refused to accept his dismissal from the federation should have come as no surprise to readers of this blog. This column has pointed out for months now that the central executive committee (CEC) of COSATU has no constitutional authority to finally dismiss, suspend or expel any office bearer or affiliate; that only a national congress may do that.

Of course, the constitution can be ignored, as it has been for nearly two years by the CEC refusing to call a special national congress to deal with the problems that have resulted in the announced expulsion of metalworkers’ union, NUMSA and the sacking of Vavi. But this leaves the way open for a legal challenge.

It is against this background that African National Congress (ANC) secretary general, and former National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) general secretary, Gwede Mantashe described the move against Vavi as “reckless”. The ANC is now trying desperately to contain what looks like an inevitable implosion of the federation.

Vavi and NUMSA, along with allies such as the Food and Allied Workers’ Union have reacted by stating that the fight continues to “win back COSATU to workers’ control”. Which, according to the majority on the CEC, is where COSATU remains; that Vavi and, NUMSA are “splitters” out to weaken the labour movement.

However, Vavi and the COSATU affiliates supporting his position appear, tactically, to have the better of the argument. Mainly because of the unwillingness of the CEC — recently always minus six or seven delegations — to call a special congress, but now also because of the conditions announced following the decision to dismiss Vavi.

COSATU president, S’dumo Dlamini stated that no COSATU affiliate or member of any union affiliated to the federation should attend any meeting addressed by Vavi — and, presumably, anyone from NUMSA. Also that Vavi should be effectively barred from any COSATU union facilities.

This statement played into the hands of the CEC dissidents who complain of the CEC’s high-handed and autocratic management style. Vavi summed this up, stating: “Momentous decisions affecting the working class are made in small boardrooms instead of democratically by the members.”

For the federation’s highly respected national spokesperson, Patrick Craven, Dlamini’s instructions were the last straw. He announced his resignation, noting: “I could not defend the indefensible”. Several other senior COSATU figures are also discussing whether to take a similar step.

However, because the battle is not about one individual or even one expelled affiliate, but rather for the “soul of COSATU”, disgruntled individuals may be persuaded to remain in position as the fight for a full national congress continues. Such a congress would have to include not only Vavi, but also NUMSA.

Dlamini this week said that a special congress would be organised for June, just three months ahead of the scheduled triennial national gathering. This seems questionable since Dlamini last year gave a lack of funding as the excuse for COSATU not having staged a special congress.

“It’s just talk. They’re not going to have a proper congress,” said a senior COSATU officer who is contemplating resignation.

This would almost certainly open the way for another costly and time-consuming legal battle that seems weighted against the CEC majority. Especially since Vavi and NUMSA are unlikely to follow the example of former COSATU president Willie Madisha and walk away from the fight to attempt to found a new labour federation.

Madisha did so in 2007 when a hostile CEC, including Vavi, expelled him, basically for not supporting Jacob Zuma as ANC president. He subsequently joined the Congress of the People and now holds one of COPE’s three parliamentary seats.

So the slow-motion disintegration of COSATU seems likely to continue, whatever the efforts of the ANC, the decisions of the courts or the votes at whatever national congress is finally staged. After 30 years of sporadic squabbling about party politics, bureaucracy and worker independence, it now appears that an end of some kind is nigh.

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Zwelinzima Vavi responds to death threat

http://ewn.co.za/2015/04/15/MK-apologises-for-Vavi-death-threats

April 15, 2015

JOHANNESBURG – The Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association on Wednesday apologised for a death threat issued by its deputy leader in Limpopo, Lulamile Jack, against Zwelinzima Vavi.

Addressing Congress of South African Trade Unions’ (Cosatu) Limpopo shop stewards council this week, Jack told union leaders Vavi wanted to destroy Cosatu and had no right to say the late South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani would be upset about the current internal battles within the federation.

Jack said he previously served as Hani's bodyguard and then threatened to kill Vavi for betraying Cosatu.

Association leader Kebby Maphatsoe said jack's comments were out of order and irresponsible.

“If there is a need to take disciplinary action we will do so.”

VAVI RESPONDS TO DEATH THREAT 

In a statement Vavi responded to the death threats saying:

“I have taken note of the death threats made by a certain Lulamile Jack, reported to be Deputy Chairperson of Limpopo Umkhonto Wesizwe Military Veterans Association. I am not shocked at all that such a statement has been made. This is regrettably a reflection of the state of affairs in our beloved country. 

It is a political environment that prevails that allows the likes to spew that venom and death threats assured that nothing will ever happen to him. 

Only yesterday, 14 April 2015, we woke up to the news that yet another trade unionist, Chris Nkosi, the Gauteng Satawu Regional Secretary, had been killed after he received death threats. 

The house of Satawu President, June Dube, was petrol bombed in the early hours of 14 April 2015; he too has been receiving death threats. Last year Xolani Banisi an activist of Samwu and whistle blower from Bloemfontein was killed. 

Numsa offices have been vandalized on many occasions since its special congress held in December 2013. Three Numsa stewards were killed in Isithebe also last year. 

To date no single person has been brought to book for committing these crimes.

The death threats are part and parcel of a political agenda to achieve the goal of domesticating, blunting, hollow out and co-opt the organs of people power together with all institutions of our hard won democracy.

The people driving this agenda will stop at nothing including committing murder. Already a culture of impunity exists. I received a death threat in June 2010 and I reported the matter to the then police commissioner and Minister of Police.

I am still waiting this day for a response. Barely a week after I was re-elected in 2012, the Acting Head of Crime Intelligence Chris Ngcobo told me that there is a plot to poison and or assassinate me from Iran intelligence operating in South Africa.

I reported this to the Inspector General for Intelligence who is supposed to be an ombudsman. Nothing ever came out of that. In around May and August 2013, Sidumo Dlamini circulated a fake intelligence report making all manner of allegations to the fact that I am agent of American agenda to topple all governments led by liberation movements throughout the African continent.

Nothing came out of this complaint.

In August 2013 I laid a charge of extortion against a lady who initially claimed she was raped by me. The evidence of extortion was overwhelming. Today nothing ever happened.

Lulamile Jack won't be arrested and he will not face any consequences for issuing that threat precisely because of the political environment that exists. The culture of impunity has developed. Many whistle blowers have been killed in Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, North West and Free State.

No one has been held accountable. If this is allowed to continue we will find ourselves not only in a predatory and kleptocratic state but in barbarism in which the rule of law will only exist in statute books.

 

 

Numsa can march on May Day

Numsa can march today, judge rules

May 1, 2015

Mercurt, Durban

RULING that constitutional rights to assemble or picket were paramount, a Durban High Court judge granted an application yesterday to allow a march by the National Union of Metal Workers of SA (Numsa) to proceed today.

The court was hearing an urgent application brought by the union after the eThekwini Municipality refused permission for the march, citing security concerns as Cosatu’s May Day rally is also set to take place today.

Cosatu was cited as the second respondent, but no relief was sought against it.

In court papers, municipal manager S’bu Sithole had said the Numsa march could not go ahead because he had information from the police’s crime intelligence unit that groups in Cosatu and Numsa were preparing for “armed confrontation”.

“The fear of violence is very real. The city is already reeling from recent xenophobic attacks.” He said Cosatu’s march was to celebrate “May Day”, an international holiday dedicated to workers, whereas Numsa could march on another day.

In papers, Numsa’s regional secretary, Mbuso Ngubane, said he had been told that the city intended to prohibit the Numsa march as it was felt it would detract from the Cosatu march and President Jacob Zuma’s participation.

“It was clear that a political decision had been taken, and that a successful demonstration by the applicant and others in Durban on May 1 would embarrass the president and emphasise his waning popularity,” Ngubane said.

Yesterday, Judge Yvonne Mbatha ruled that rights allowing people to gather, picket and demonstrate were enshrined in the constitution.

She added that a “reasonable suspicion of violence” was not enough to prevent the march from taking place.

“In this case, the applicant (Numsa) has done everything in accordance with the law, and had spent R1 million on the event on advertising.”

She added that Numsa had asked for information about this “threat”, but the city had failed to co-operate.

She ordered that the Numsa march start at King Dinizulu Park at 9am, and that marchers could only move into the city after 11am when Cosatu members would have left.

Advocate Paul Schumann, acting for Numsa, argued that the union had sought permission for the march on March 14, and it had been granted before the application made by Cosatu.

He said the city’s attempt to stop the march at the 11th hour was “illogical”.

The city was ordered to pay the union’s costs.

Numsa spokesman Castro Ngobese said: “We applaud the judge for upholding our hardwon constitutional right to assembly and agitate for our own needs and demands.”

Axed Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, who will address the Numsa gathering today, also welcomed the ruling.

***

Bid to stop May Day march was to save Zuma embarrassment - Numsa

2015-04-30 19:25

Giordano Stolley, News24

Durban - The attempt to cancel Numsa’s planned May Day march through Durban was nothing more than a bid to prevent President Jacob Zuma from being embarrassed.

This claim was made in papers that the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) submitted in its successful KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban action to force eThekwini Metro Municipality to allow the march to take place.

Judge Yvonne Mbatha on Thursday granted the union’s request for an order to allow the march to take place.

The union, which was recently expelled from Cosatu, had originally been granted permission, but it was then retracted by municipal manager Sibusiso Sithole.

In an affidavit submitted in support of the order, Numsa regional secretary Mbuso Ngubane accused Sithole of acting unlawfully when he cancelled the march.

Ngubane said that Sithole only cancelled the march on April 23.

“It was clear that a political decision had been taken and that a successful demonstration by the applicant [Numsa] and others in Durban on May 1 2015 would embarrass the president and emphasise his waning popularity.”

Sithole had argued in his affidavit before court that the Numsa march was political in nature and not a May Day march. He had said that he was not prohibiting Numsa from holding a march, but that they could hold their march on another day.

Opposing May Day marches

Cosatu is also holding holding a march and a rally on Friday, marching from the Workshop Gardens, up Monty Naicker Street (formerly Pine Street) to the Curries Fountain Stadium. The expelled Cosatu affiliate Numsa is marching in the opposite direction from Botha Gardens down Dr Pixley Kaseme Street (formerly West Street) to the Durban City Hall.

Sithole argued that Cosatu’s march was purely to celebrate Workers Day.

“The first respondent [the eThekwini Metro Municipality] is in possession of information which leads to the inescapable conclusion that the timing of the applicant’s [Numsa] march and gathering has been contrived so as to create an atmosphere for political jostling and violence. That we cannot allow.”

Sithole argued that because of the two routes - Monty Naicker Street and Dr Pixley KaSeme Street - run parallel to with each other, there was a great possibility of contact. The two streets are about 100m apart and joined by several roads.

“There is a genuine fear of provocation and reaction thereto and ensuing friction. The fear of violence is very real.”

Sithole said that as Zuma was addressing the Cosatu marchers at Curries Fountain, the city had an obligation to ensure that it limited “conflict and violence in the general vicinity of the State President”.

Cosatu had informed the city that it expected 7 000 marchers to attend its rally, while Numsa expected 10 000 people to attend.

“The police cannot deal with a conflict involving some 17 000 trade unionists. The decision is necessary to prevent bloodshed,” said Sithole.

However, Ngubane argued that in their consultations with the police - both the SA Police Service and the eThekwini Metro Police - these concerns had never been raised. He also argued that the union was prepared to delay the start of the march to allow the Cosatu march to reach the stadium.

“The police themselves were quite happy with the routes and certainly did not communicate any concerns to us on April 2 [when the union met with police] that the combined presence of both the metro police and the SAPS would not be sufficient to handle any eventuality that might arise,” argued Ngubane.

He said that the union was deploying 1 000 marshals to control the Numsa marchers.

He said the union had spent more than R700 000 on the march for T-shirts and advertising.


***

Judge rules in favour of Numsa May Day march

Thursday 30 April 2015 20:57

SABC

Numsa and
          Cosatu will hold different marches in Durban on May Day.

Numsa and Cosatu will hold different marches in Durban on May Day.(SABC)


The safety and security of President Jacob Zuma is a mandate for the police and that should not infringe other people's rights. This is Durban High Court Judge Yvonne Mbatha's ruling while dismissing the Ethekwini municipality's attempt to stop National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa’s (Numsa) march on May Day.

The municipality told the Durban High Court that Numsa should not be allowed to march because of a potential violence as Cosatu workers will be also marching and that could compromise the safety of President Zuma who will be leading a Cosatu march to Curries Fountein.

The ruling means that there will be two marches in the city centre on May Day as Cosatu has also organised a march. Lawyers for the Ethekwini Municipality argued that the Numsa march could turn violent.

And result in scenes reminiscent of the recent xenophobic clashes which might compromise the security and safety of President Zuma who will be leading the Cosatu march.

However, Mbatha has dismissed the application saying the security issue does not hold water as the safety of President Zuma and other citizens lies with police officers which should never infringe upon another citizens rights to participate in a public gathering.

Expelled Cosatu Secretary-General Zwelinzima Vavi has rubbished claims of violent clashes. "We are calling on them - Please stop this shenanigans  and allow our people to assemble. This nonsense that there is an armed insurgents coming intelligence and all of that rubbish. They know that there is no such a thing. No worker that have AK, R5 who will be marching in the streets."

South Africans will mark May Day on Friday.

Vavi has called on Numsa members to stand up and be counted. He says they will be marching against unemployment, corruption and other social ills. He says workers want a better life.

“Don’t moan, Don’t keep on moaning in your private dinning problems - stand up and be counted and save our democracy as we go to May day . So we are marching for decent work, education and free education system. We are marching against NH1, rural poverty and we are marching for a better life thats what we are marching for.”

Meanwhile Numsa has described the City's legal challenge as an abuse of political power. Addressing the media, Numsa's Irvin Jim says any attempts to try to block their march is unethical and unconstitutional.

“Any attempts to try and take away such a hard won right by workers to be able to demonstrate and to protest is rejected with contempt its deserve, so there is no arrangement that will stop us not to march. There is a propaganda being unleashed by the municipality that they fear there is a potential for violence. That there will be some armed force it's a joke. We think that this is basically taking people for a ride to abuse political power in the state we reject it with contempt.”

Judge Mbatha says everyone has the right to march without intimidation irrespective of their affiliation.

Police have braced themselves and stepped up security ahead of the May Day March by thousands of workers who are expected to bring the Durban City Centre to a standstill.

RULING that constitutional rights to assemble or picket were paramount, a Durban High Court judge granted an application yesterday to allow a march by the National Union of Metal Workers of SA (Numsa) to proceed today.

The court was hearing an urgent application brought by the union after the eThekwini Municipality refused permission for the march, citing security concerns as Cosatu’s May Day rally is also set to take place today.

Cosatu was cited as the second respondent, but no relief was sought against it.

In court papers, municipal manager S’bu Sithole had said the Numsa march could not go ahead because he had information from the police’s crime intelligence unit that groups in Cosatu and Numsa were preparing for “armed confrontation”.

“The fear of violence is very real. The city is already reeling from recent xenophobic attacks.” He said Cosatu’s march was to celebrate “May Day”, an international holiday dedicated to workers, whereas Numsa could march on another day.

In papers, Numsa’s regional secretary, Mbuso Ngubane, said he had been told that the city intended to prohibit the Numsa march as it was felt it would detract from the Cosatu march and President Jacob Zuma’s participation.

“It was clear that a political decision had been taken, and that a successful demonstration by the applicant and others in Durban on May 1 would embarrass the president and emphasise his waning popularity,” Ngubane said.

Yesterday, Judge Yvonne Mbatha ruled that rights allowing people to gather, picket and demonstrate were enshrined in the constitution.

She added that a “reasonable suspicion of violence” was not enough to prevent the march from taking place.

“In this case, the applicant (Numsa) has done everything in accordance with the law, and had spent R1 million on the event on advertising.”

She added that Numsa had asked for information about this “threat”, but the city had failed to co-operate.

She ordered that the Numsa march start at King Dinizulu Park at 9am, and that marchers could only move into the city after 11am when Cosatu members would have left.

Advocate Paul Schumann, acting for Numsa, argued that the union had sought permission for the march on March 14, and it had been granted before the application made by Cosatu.

He said the city’s attempt to stop the march at the 11th hour was “illogical”.

The city was ordered to pay the union’s costs.

Numsa spokesman Castro Ngobese said: “We applaud the judge for upholding our hardwon constitutional right to assembly and agitate for our own needs and demands.”

Axed Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, who will address the Numsa gathering today, also welcomed the ruling.

***

Bid to stop May Day march was to save Zuma embarrassment - Numsa

2015-04-30 19:25

Giordano Stolley, News24

Durban - The attempt to cancel Numsa’s planned May Day march through Durban was nothing more than a bid to prevent President Jacob Zuma from being embarrassed.

This claim was made in papers that the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) submitted in its successful KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban action to force eThekwini Metro Municipality to allow the march to take place.

Judge Yvonne Mbatha on Thursday granted the union’s request for an order to allow the march to take place.

The union, which was recently expelled from Cosatu, had originally been granted permission, but it was then retracted by municipal manager Sibusiso Sithole.

In an affidavit submitted in support of the order, Numsa regional secretary Mbuso Ngubane accused Sithole of acting unlawfully when he cancelled the march.

Ngubane said that Sithole only cancelled the march on April 23.

“It was clear that a political decision had been taken and that a successful demonstration by the applicant [Numsa] and others in Durban on May 1 2015 would embarrass the president and emphasise his waning popularity.”

Sithole had argued in his affidavit before court that the Numsa march was political in nature and not a May Day march. He had said that he was not prohibiting Numsa from holding a march, but that they could hold their march on another day.

Opposing May Day marches

Cosatu is also holding holding a march and a rally on Friday, marching from the Workshop Gardens, up Monty Naicker Street (formerly Pine Street) to the Curries Fountain Stadium. The expelled Cosatu affiliate Numsa is marching in the opposite direction from Botha Gardens down Dr Pixley Kaseme Street (formerly West Street) to the Durban City Hall.

Sithole argued that Cosatu’s march was purely to celebrate Workers Day.

“The first respondent [the eThekwini Metro Municipality] is in possession of information which leads to the inescapable conclusion that the timing of the applicant’s [Numsa] march and gathering has been contrived so as to create an atmosphere for political jostling and violence. That we cannot allow.”

Sithole argued that because of the two routes - Monty Naicker Street and Dr Pixley KaSeme Street - run parallel to with each other, there was a great possibility of contact. The two streets are about 100m apart and joined by several roads.

“There is a genuine fear of provocation and reaction thereto and ensuing friction. The fear of violence is very real.”

Sithole said that as Zuma was addressing the Cosatu marchers at Curries Fountain, the city had an obligation to ensure that it limited “conflict and violence in the general vicinity of the State President”.

Cosatu had informed the city that it expected 7 000 marchers to attend its rally, while Numsa expected 10 000 people to attend.

“The police cannot deal with a conflict involving some 17 000 trade unionists. The decision is necessary to prevent bloodshed,” said Sithole.

However, Ngubane argued that in their consultations with the police - both the SA Police Service and the eThekwini Metro Police - these concerns had never been raised. He also argued that the union was prepared to delay the start of the march to allow the Cosatu march to reach the stadium.

“The police themselves were quite happy with the routes and certainly did not communicate any concerns to us on April 2 [when the union met with police] that the combined presence of both the metro police and the SAPS would not be sufficient to handle any eventuality that might arise,” argued Ngubane.

He said that the union was deploying 1 000 marshals to control the Numsa marchers.

He said the union had spent more than R700 000 on the march for T-shirts and advertising.


*

Numsa cuts Cosatu ties

Numsa cuts Cosatu ties Article

By: Zunaid Ismael

Fri, 24 Jul 2015

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa has decided to cut its ties with trade federation Cosatu. The decision was taken at Numsa's national executive committee meeting, which was held at the Vincent Mabuyakhulu Conference Centre in Johannesburg this week.

The union said that it is planning to form "a new independent, democratic, worker-controlled, militant, anti-imperialist trade union federation." "The NEC concluded that Numsa, together with other affiliates in the Group of 9+ unions, has done everything in its power to reclaim Cosatu through its legal and organisational endeavours.

"The time has arrived to start with the building blocks of forming a new independent, democratic, worker-controlled, militant, anti-imperialist trade union federation," Numsa said in a statement. The union also accused the African National Congress and the South African Communist Party of hijacking Cosatu and using it as a "mere instrument for securing the votes of the working class every 5 years."

Numsa also claimed that the government was using Cosatu president S'dumo Dlamini to control "the organized working class in the interests of the ruling comprador bourgeoisie." Numsa said that it would convene a special joint NEC with its allies towards the end of July to discuss the future of the labour movement in South Africa.

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