This article – from Business Day – is quite startling. The idea that a trade union movement like Cosatu would hand over its leadership selection to a political party is astonishing. Has the union movement really lost all sense of autonomy? Are its divisions now so deep that it cannot resolve them internally?


Business Day by Natasha Marrian, 30 May 2014, 07:50

THE African National Congress’s (ANC’s) solution to the battle in the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) could extend to the “choosing” and the “deployment” of leaders and “personalities in leadership who could compromise unity”, says general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.

Mr Vavi said Cosatu’s central executive committee meeting over the past three days had received a report from an ANC task team led by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Cosatu agreed that the “package” that would be developed by the ANC to bring about unity will also tackle the leadership question.

Mr Vavi on Thursday in Johannesburg addressed his first press briefing since his reinstatement as general secretary. He has to toe the Cosatu line and abide by central executive committee decisions.

Flanked by Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini — in what appeared to be a show of unity — Mr Vavi said that ANC-brokered political intervention in the impasse has been extended by another month.

Since Mr Vavi’s reinstatement he has been under pressure to hold Cosatu together — a position described as untenable given that he was viewed as part of a separate faction to the rest of Cosatu’s national leadership.

The independence of Cosatu is at the centre of its internal battle, but the ANC’s intervention appears to extend to decisions on leadership selection, which should remain the choice and preference of workers from various affiliates.

“The package to be developed by the ANC should address the leadership question including choosing of leaders, deployment of leaders (and) personalities in leadership that could compromise unity,” Mr Vavi said. It would include “governance issues” encompassing the disciplinary case against Mr Vavi.

He said Cosatu has put together a 10-point plan to allow the now two-month intervention to unfold, which included reining in its rebel largest affiliate, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), which has resolved to organise workers across sectors and form a workers party to contest the 2016 polls.

Mr Vavi and Mr Dlamini were unable to answer questions on the state of the organisation, pending the ANC’s political solution.

Mr Vavi and Mr Dlamini tread carefully in answering questions at the post-central executive committee media briefing, wary of violating any of the 10 points developed at the meeting. Halting media pronouncements on Cosatu’s problems are part of the 10-point plan.

Also part of the plan is that in the coming weeks the ANC will meet seven affiliates and hold a two-day workshop with Cosatu’s national office bearers.

Contentious issues in Cosatu are effectively on hold, including the court application compelling Mr Dlamini to convene a special national congress; the status of its second deputy president Zingiswa Losi, who has stepped down from the Numsa shop steward position from which she was elected as a national office bearer; and the disciplinary hearing against Mr Vavi.

Ahead of the meeting this week, Numsa had written to Mr Vavi demanding that Cosatu provide reasons not to suspend or expel Mr Dlamini for violating the Cosatu constitution, abusing federation funds and bringing the organisation into disrepute