Cosatu Congress Special
Being in a Cosatu congress is a unique experience. For four days from 9am to late in the evening every day, more than 2500 people crowd a hall the size of a rugby field. Another “˜rugby field’ feeds the hungry delegates.Representatives from each trade union sit with their trade union delegation. Each delegation is allocated a few flags so that they can signal to the top table when
they want to contribute to the debate. The colour red dominates the four-day proceedings. A giant red banner dwarfs the national office bearers who sit in front controlling the proceedings.In this special focus on Cosatu, we try and give you a sense of what happened, who said what and what new resolutions were passed.
We know you have seen, read or heard the sensational bits on tv, in the newspapers or on the radio. Here we try and fill in some of the gaps with the less sensational but no less important bits!Get a full text of the resolutions from your nearest Numsa office, get a report back from someone who attended.
Workers 9th parliament gets underway
Thousands of “˜reds’ poured into Gallagher Estate as Cosatu delegates gathered for the trade union federation’s 9th National Congress. Rocked by stories of conflict and power, this year’s congress promises to be a feast for the commercial media and is likely to go down as the most controversial in the history of the federation. As chanting delegates, representing the various affiliates, danced around the conference hall, the appearance of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, followed by ANC Deputy President Jacob Zuma brought proceedings to a standstill as the lyrics of “˜My president … my president’ echoed through the hall. While the National Office Bearers of the federation battled to get the proceedings off the ground, the announcement
of the cleaners’ strike, problems over credentials and debates over the constitutional requirements on the submission of resolutions threatened to create further delays until Numsa General Secretary Silumko Nondwangu offered a way out of the impasse when he suggested that congress deal with these matters as and when they appeared on the agenda. After condemning the unprovoked attacks on leaders of the ZCTU, Zwelinzima Vavi welcomed both local and international guests .. Alec Erwin, Ivan Khoza, Zachie Achmat, Willies Mchunu, Blade Nzimande and a host of civil rights organizations and social movements in the country … finally the congress got off the ground as delegates pondered over who got the loudest applause .. maybe Winnie or Jacob or ANC Youth League fire-brand Fikile Mbalula!
Who’s up for the top!
Jenny GriceThe message from affiliates on day one was: “˜return our leaders’. According to a representative from the Electoral Institute of South Africa (Eisa), by Monday morning he had only received nominations for those currently in office.He had received no nomination forms for the post of first vice president – the only position that is vacant after Joe Nkosi resigned a few weeks before the congress. However the Eisa representative pointed out that very few
affiliates had handed in nominations. He proposed that the nominations process be extended until 5pm on Monday.Other affiliates spoke from the floor proposing that more time be given. The congress eventually agreed that nominations would close on Tuesday September 19 at 13h30.What was certain was that from Monday leading up to 13h30 Tuesday, there would be serious caucusing amongst leaders, delegates and between affiliates to see who would stand!
These are those nominated:
First vice president
Second vice president
Deputy general secretary
POSTCRIPT:On the final day, Eisa announced the new Cosatu national office bearers:President Willie Madisha (the only contested position; Madisha beat Numsa shop steward, Zanoxolo Wayile)First vice president Sdumo Dlamini (new, elected unopposed)Second vice president Violet Seboni (unopposed)Treasurer Alina Rantsiloase (unopposed)General secretary Zwelinzima Vavi (unopposed)Deputy general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali (unopposed)
Numsa facing trying times
As the Electoral Independent Commission of South Africa (Eisa) announced the names of candidates nominated to fill the federation’s key leadership positions, delegates representing Numsa held their breath as the names of the two contesting candidates for the position of President resonated through the conference hall. All the hush! hush!, moments of uncertainty, speculation and whispers in the corridors suddenly came to an end as the name of Comrade Wayile penetrated the ear drum and presented the metalworkers with its greatest dilemma since the formation of the trade union federation. As the flag bearer caught the attention of the Congress Chairperson, Numsa President Mtutuzeli Tom told congress that:”As metalworkers we have not released cde Goodman Wayile to contest
the position as president. Cde Wayile has defied the organisational position that he should contest only the vacant deputy president position. We therefore would like to put it clear to the delegates present in this congress that he is standing on his own without the blessing of metalworkers.” A flood of objections by opposing affiliates threatened to interrupt the already slow progress of congress deliberations. But the dust settled as affiliates accepted the nominations based on past experience. All that remained was for Eisa to conduct the elections and announce the name of the incoming Cosatu President. For Numsa the matter is unlikely to stop here as “Insimbi Ayigobi” (the steel that can’t be bent) faces another challenging time since its inception in 1987.
Which affiliates were present?Numsa is now the third biggest affiliate in Cosatu. The giant is still Num with 262 000 members, followed by Sadtu, Numsa and then Nehawu.
Affiliate membership number of delegates entitled toCeppwawu 61 758 83Cwu 25 016 34Denosa 64 165 86Fawu 114 903 154Musa 700 1Nehawu 203 517 272Num 262 000 350Numsa 216 808 290Popcru 95 864 128Pawe 390 1Pawuse 16 799 23Saccawu 107 553 144Sactwu 110 216 147Sadnu 9 288 13Sadtu 224 387 300Safpu 1057 5Sama 5355 8Samwu 118 000 159Sasawu 9 307 18Sasbo 60 758 81Satawu 183 355 245