NUM slants towards links with Numsa

Saftu genereal secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and Numsa general secretary share the same ideology.
Saftu genereal secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and Numsa general secretary share the same ideology.
Image: Rogan Ward

The election of a National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) leadership that is said to be sympathetic to Zwelinzima Vavi has fuelled talks of a possible merger between the Cosatu affiliate and the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa).

A slate led by NUM general secretary David Sipunzi swept the floor in a leadership race that saw the pro-Luthuli House faction, led by outgoing president Piet Matosa, lose control of NUM.

Reacting to the news that Sipunzi's faction had won, Numsa general-secretary Irvin Jim said the developments opens up the possibility of a merger between NUM and his union. Numsa was expelled from Cosatu for "stealing members" from the NUM and for refusing to campaign for the ANC ahead of the 2014 general elections.

Matosa was among the NUM leaders who backed Numsa's expulsion. Sipunzi was said to be among those who advised against it. He was also seen as sympathetic to then Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi who later joined forces with Numsa to form a new trade union federation.

"The previous NUM leadership which was close to the ANC leadership led a charge of expelling Numsa. Cosatu was acting politically when it dismissed Numsa. Our responsibility as the leadership is to try to unite workers than to divide them," Jim said yesterday.

Although rivals, NUM and Numsa have worked closely in recent weeks fighting Eskom over the power utility's refusal to hike wages.

NUM spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu would not entertain talks of a merger yesterday but believes Numsa should be brought back to Cosatu.

"Our general secretary has said that Numsa must come back to Casatu," he said.

Cosatu president S'dumo Dlamini declined to comment on a possible merger.

Divisions have plagued NUM since Sipunzi replaced Frans Baleni as general secretary in 2015.

Joseph Montisetsi, who replaced Matosa as NUM president, won the fierce leadership race after receiving 361 votes to Matosa's 328. Sipunzi retained his position with 385 votes against Carletonville regional secretary Mbuyiseni Hibana's 303 votes. William Mabapa was uncontested for the position of deputy general-secretary.

"We will make this country ungovernable if the ANC-led government does not abandon the IPP (independent power producers) policy," he said.

Montisetsi said the NUM national congress has resolved to work with the SACP.

"I am going to craft recruitment and national political schools campaigns to grow the NUM. We are going to launch an integrated independent development together with the SACP," he said.

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