The trade union federation is hosting a special national congress in Midrand today & tomorrow.


JOHANNESBURG – While Cosatu’s special national congress is expected to be overshadowed by warnings of violence and the battle to get the Numsa and Zwelinzima Vavi back into the fold, the federation will face the tough task of debating how its affiliates organises workers.

A police nyala and several police vans are already stationed at the Gallagher Convention Centre ahead of the congress, which was called by a third of its members two years ago, to discuss unity.

Numsa was expelled from Cosatu for poaching other unions’ members and this contentious issue is set to be debated by more than 2,000 delegates.

Cosatu’s acting General-Secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said several loopholes have become evident in the federation’s constitution regarding how workers are organised.

“We raise an obsession of being big by all means and at all cost, which also leads to the question of poaching.”

Cosatu’s national office bearers claim the reason for the divisions among its ranks is also due to leaders failing to plan beyond their third term in the federation.

Ntshalintshali said a so-called exit strategy must be developed.

“If a leader is elected to be the general secretary at the age of 30 and he is intending to retire at 60, he then wants to use that position because the highest position he holds. He does not want to go.”

These two issues are just some of the contentious points in the discussion document, but it’s unclear if they will be attended to as the congress grapples to unite warring factions.

The special national congress has cost the federation R6 million and is scheduled for 13 and 14 July.