Union leadership contest hots up
ALLEGIANCES were laid bare on the second day of the National Union of Mineworkers elective congress in Kempton Park, east of Johannesburg.
Opposing NUM regions yesterday openly defied their leaders, who had called for a strong show of unity.
Those calls seemed to have fallen on deaf ears since rival regions declared their support for competing candidates through song and dance despite voting only taking place tomorrow.
The Highveld and Matlosana regions took to the open area near the leaders' podium, singing and making hand gestures that signalled their call for a change of leadership. They were joined in front by Eastern Cape, who were in turn joined by NUM's deputy general secretary Oupa Komane, who is contesting the current secretary-general Frans Baleni.
Several leaders, including NUM president Senzeni Zokwana and Komane, were at pains to remind delegates that the congress had been convened to discuss important union work.
They said voting should not be seen as being more important than other processes that needed to take place before balloting.
But it would seem waiting for tomorrow had already taken its toll on impatient delegates.
Just when leaders had managed to silence the few hundred singing delegates, the Rustenburg region entered the conference venue and belted out a song in favour of Baleni and Zokwana.
Delegates from the region sang that they would kneel down and pray for the duo, showing their support for their retention.
After delegates had been calmed down, Zokwana said: "We are here to run a congress, comrades, elections will come after."
Addressing delegates, SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande tore into Brett Murray - the artist behind the controversial painting depicting President Jacob Zuma with his genitals hanging out of his pants - saying his work lacked cultural sensitivity.
Nzimande compared Murray's artwork to the public display of Sarah "Saartjie" Baartman's body in Britain and France.
Nzimande also called for NUM members to boycott City Press newspaper, which had posted Murray's painting on its website.