Suspended SAFTU office bearers allowed to contest elections

After two days of political bickering on whether the four suspended South African Federation of Trade Unions National Office Bearers should be allowed to contest elections, delegates have finally agreed to have their names on the ballot paper.  

The issue nearly collapsed the five-day meeting with the federation’s biggest affiliate National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) threatening to pull out from the congress while the South Africa Policing Union (SAPU) threatened to disrupt the gathering.  

Some unions wanted to avail themselves for nomination and election while others were against that. SAFTU General-Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi was then forced to seek legal opinion.

“The issue that arose yesterday after the vote was whether the comrades who are suspended until the next Central Committee will be within their rights and the unions will be within their rights to nominate them, we have asked the Senior Counsel who categorically said, no.”

And the house got sharply divided with those against and those in favour all wanting to be heard.

The federation’s biggest union, NUMSA, then took to the podium, threatening to pull out from the meeting and not recognising any leadership emerging from the congress. 

NUMSA General Secretary is Irvin Jim says,” That Senior Counsel is not a court, he gives a legal opinion. He has lost a lot of cases. President, we want to submit that we won’t agree that those National Office Bearers, that four of them, must be suspended. We want to move firmly that they must be allowed and and we want to be clear that if this congress refuses to do that as NUMSA will pull out of this congress and comrades we want to be very firm that we shall not recognise a leadership that will be a product of this unfair process that has been hatched and cooked in front of us. “

The position of Secretary General is highly contested: 

The congress was forced to adjourn and after almost a two hour break, sanity prevailed and the four suspended National Office Bearers are allowed to contest elections to the thunderous applause from NUMSA and SAPU. Vusi Ntshangase from the Democratic Transport Logistics and Allied Workers’ Union (DETAWU) was the bearer of the good news.

“We have Comrade President after serious reflection and noted the time lost already since from the beginning of the congress have agreed that it will be in the interest of democracy and in the interest of unity in this congress to allow the suspended National Office Bearers to contest the election. We are therefore recommending that the nominated suspended be officially allowed to enter the ballot.”  

The ballot was produced and voting continued with results expected on Thursday.

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