THE African National Congress (ANC) in the Eastern Cape’s Nelson Mandela Bay region has embarked on a drive to mitigate the effects among its members of the expulsion of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).
Port Elizabeth in Nelson Mandela Bay hosts a significant part of SA’s automotive sector industry, where Numsa is the dominant union among the workers. Its expulsion is likely to affect the ANC in the 2016 municipal elections.
Numsa champions the formation of a United Front, a civil society movement, as well as a workers party to contest the elections. The United Front is set to be launched on December 14 and structures have already been formed in the Eastern Cape.
In the 2011 municipal elections, the ANC won control of Nelson Mandela Bay metro with a slim margin and with Numsa out of the fold, that margin could easily be eroded. The ANC is vulnerable in the 2016 local elections, less than 18 months away, with deep internal problems in the party.
Numsa has blamed leaders of the ANC and the South African Communist Party (SACP) for its troubles. ANC regional secretary Zandisile Qupe said on Thursday the party was meeting with members and communities in the region to explain the role of the ANC task team, led by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, which tried to resolve the sharp divisions within Cosatu that last Saturday resulted in Numsa’s expulsion.
Mr Qupe said “no organisation would say it is not worried when it loses the vote of a traditional ally”. During campaigning for the May national elections, the ANC “felt the absence” of Numsa, and “should be concerned” with the union’s plans to contest the upcoming municipal elections under the banner of a new workers party.
Cosatu in the Eastern Cape has rejected Numsa’s expulsion and is calling for a special congress along with other federation members.
In Durban, Numsa, the Food and Allied Workers Union, the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) and the Public and Allied Workers Union of SA (Pawusa) have blamed ANC and SACP leaders for being behind the newly formed rival Metal and Allied Workers Union of SA (Mawusa).
Launched under the guidance of former Numsa president Cedric Gina, speculation is rife that Mawusa may replace Numsa in the Cosatu fold. Numsa KwaZulu-Natal secretary Mbuso Ngubane said the union would fight the expulsion by “a faction” led by Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini. The branch was prepared to go to court to demand Numsa’s reinstatement.
KwaZulu-Natal Cosatu provincial chairman Edwin Mkhize said Numsa’s expulsion would cause further divisions in Cosatu.