On May 7th, South Africa will hold the 5th national and provincial elections to take place since the downfall of apartheid. This year marks the 20th anniversary of South Africa’s first democratic elections. However, the elections are not marked by a jubilant mood. The past few years have seen a very sharp increase in the class struggle. At the same time the political establishment is stumbling from one crisis to another. This is a reflection of the sick nature of capitalism.
On Friday 4 March, the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg ruled in favour of the metal union NUMSA’s and Zwelinzima Vavi’s application for the latter’s suspension as COSATU general secretary to be lifted. Vavi had been illegally suspended as the federation’s General Secretary on 14 August 2013.
Yesterday, 19 March 2014, South Africa’s largest union, the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa) held a one-day strike and national day of action to denounce the policies of the African National Congress (ANC) government which it accuse of “subsidizing capitalists” with tax payers’ money.
The South African metal workers union, NUMSA held its much awaited special national congress in Boksburg from 17-20 December to discuss its future and, by implication, the future of the entire South African labour movement after a long period of infighting in the labour federation COSATU and fierce class struggle in South African society. This was the first time ever that the union has had to hold a special congress and signifies the extent to which relations in COSATU and the Tripartite Alliance (ANC, COSATU, and SACP) have deteriorated.
The National Union of metalworkers of South Africa(NUMSA) is in the process of gathering the views of its members in preparation for the union's extraordinary national congress to be held in December.The forthcoming congress of Numsa that will be held in Ekhurhuleni will give the union a mandate on how to deal with the ruptures inside the trade union federation Cosatu and will give the leadership directions on the way forward.The Numsa congress will be held ahead of the Cosatu extraordinary congress to be held at a later date.Earlier the president of Cosatu,S'dumo Dlamini reluctantly wrote to the affiliates confirming that the congress will be held.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) will hold a special national congress to deal with divisions that have ravaged South Africa's largest labour federation for the last period. The announcement came on August 19th after the three day meeting of the Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting that was held in Johannesburg. This was after nine affiliated unions wrote to the CEC, requesting such a congress. This represents a step in the right direction for the federation. COSATU's constitution states that for a special congress to be held, at least one third of affiliates (seven) must make such a request. The president of the federation then has 14 days to deal with the logistics of holding the congress, including setting a date.
On Wednesday 14 August South Africa's biggest labour federation, Cosatu is scheduled to hold a special meeting of its Central Executive Committee to discuss the future of its General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. This is only the latest instalment of a series of divisive events that have engulfed Cosatu. At bottom, this reflects a struggle between the right wing and the left wing of the movement.