Home News S.Africa’s largest union mulls pulling plug on ANC

S.Africa’s largest union mulls pulling plug on ANC

Published on 17/12/2013

South Africa's largest trade union Tuesday held a special congress to consider severing ties with a government-aligned umbrella group, a move that could cost the ruling ANC crucial votes in next year's election.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), an affiliate of the umbrella federation Cosatu, has hinted it will break away amid deepening ideological differences.

Numsa accuses Cosatu of not standing up to the government’s liberal economic policies.

“A decision must be taken about where we go from here if we do not get the Cosatu that we want,” said NUMSA acting president Andrew Chirwa.

Cosatu is “fatally paralysed… as if it has been knocked by a big truck,” he told the opening session of the talks.

“The state of the working class is in shambles, the working class is leaderless.”

With 338,000 members, Numsa is the largest affiliate of the 2.2-million-member Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) — a long-time close ally of the ANC.

Cosatu through its affiliates not only bankrolls the party’s elections campaigns but is a vital source of votes.

Together with the South African Communist Party (SACP), the ANC and Cosatu entered 23 years ago into what is popularly known as a “strategic tripartite alliance.”

It is the alliance the ANC has traditionally relied on to sweep elections.

But NUMSA’s vice president Christine Olivier said the crisis in Cosatu has “led to a serious discussion on whether we should support the ANC in the upcoming elections in 2014.”

Chirwa accused the alliance of only emerging around elections time and vowed “we will not be voting cows.”