NUMSA Special Congress: Will this special congress prove special, I doubt!

– Am I the only one to think this congress has a misplaced  ANC  for its agenda instead of  NUMSA –

As I pen this note the NUMSA delegates are gathered in what is called a “Special Congress” in Boksburg engaging we are told 6 discussion papers. The details of the discussion papers a standard practice is not known to the public.

A special congress not attended by its Alliance members or its Mother Body COSATU. According to the official word from the SACP Communications person, he received a request on November 21, 2013 in which he was asked about the contact details of among others-relevant  Alliance members – to extend an official invitation for attendance of such special congress.

The SACP spokesman  is on record and goes on to say, he responded the next day and gave the sender the information as required. Yet on behalf of the SACP no official invitation was received till this hour. Off course you will hear the SACP lies, and counter claims to this. That does not alter the fact that the special congress is underway and COSATU, SACP and ANC are absent, for whatever reason.

Thus far the issues from the presidential report as shared by the new incumbent Chirwa ballooned in what is portrayed a demand and call for the ANC president to resign.

I guess it would be difficult for a new president in the wake of the recent resigning of the actual NUMSA president to bring together a true presidential report thus he had to hone in sensationalizing his report on this his call. Granted it is his right to do so as this is a monumental entrance for him as president to NUMSA leadership.

Although Chirwa is calling for  the resigning of an ANC president,  it appears the call for resigning is now also extended to the Deputy President of the ANC Cyril Ramaphosa who holds no government office.  Can we guess they also will call for the Secretary General of the ANC to resign, maybe not because Gwede Mantashe recently suggested a careful reconsideration on the part of COSATU on the subject of Vavi as that which may have ramifications for COSATU at a broader level.  If this is true, it would mean the essence of calling for ANC officials resignations is marred by a shortsighted snapshot view of what it means to call for resignations. NUMSA is perhaps behaving like the ANCYL of Malema.

The ANC President and deputy president along with all its other 4 office bearers were all democratically elected to office at Mangaung in 2012 Elective Conference. Let us be clear the issue of a South African presidency is a by- default position. Thus Chirwa is out of his socks to demand this resigning of the  ANC presidents.

The second issue which really is anchored in the first again revolves around the GS report which again dealt with Nkandla as the departure or reported point, underscoring the call of Chirwa.

Information in regard to the actual work NUMSA in this “special congress” is doing remains scantily clad because we do not hear anything substantial except the rhetoric of neo- liberalism, anti- capitalism and anti- imperialism constructs bandied around vacuous of explanation or definition.

The GS of NUMSA appears more focused on proving their power as NUMSA to force COSATU to obey their instructions because they have this 280000 membership which carries the weight they attempt wielding.

Off course as was expected Zwelinzima Vavi would address the NUMSA gathering. There can be no question that the suspended and perhaps soon former GS of COSATU could not wait to leave his twitter solitary campaigning for a podium of limelight and NUMSA stage. This is  a clever political move  on his and his handlers part,  hats off for this tactical move in pursuit of solidifying a claimed constituency.

Vavi’s address as orchestrated becomes the de-facto official keynote address for the “special congress”, as orchestrated by the NUMSA officials. Vavi spoke as we all know in his personal capacity, yet he is addressing a formation of COSATU the same his suspension conditions clearly articulate shall not happen. This says more of what Vavi think of COSATU without him as that which is worthy of disrespect. Needless to say Vavi packed a punch or 5 at the ANC, leadership etc using the subject of corruption as his premise, equally vocal on what the ANC has become.

This brings me to the fundamental question how special is this special congress

A special congress is usually called to discuss urgent but very critical issues that concerns the entity or structure in its existence and mobility.

Special congresses are convened to decide on critical matters immanent in way forward.

A special congress is convened when there is a crisis of leadership in the structure. Which does not exists in NUMSA except for the recent almost welcomed departure of its former president by those who wanted to see his back.


  • Yet I doubt if NUMSA will in any sense resolve in mandate to split ways with COSATU at the end of this special congress. This one is too risky and NUMSA most probably is betting on doing a internal transformation of COSATU.
  • I doubt if NUMSA will explicitly move away from the Alliance as a fundamental principle.  Though NUMSA members straddle across all political formations as parties the majority easily are ANC anchored. Thus it may be committing political suicide.
  • I equally doubt if NUMSA and not its officials will resolve not to support the ANC in the elections. It has no political home at present outside of the ANC, it equally cannot assume its members will opt to vote for any other party outside the ANC.
  • I doubt if NUMSA can after the special Congress muster the support of more than the original 9 of which only 7 federations of 21 who is in good standing with COSATU. NUMSA could not sway more than the 9 of the 21 Federations making up COSATU to agree on a special COSATU congress. In fact even those who had agreed to a special congress had divergent reasons for the convening of such.
  • I also doubt if NUMSA at the end of this special congress will resolve to form a party which will compete in 2014 or beyond.

So, therefore if these crucial issues  are not proven as conclusive in a way forward of outcomes what then make this congress “special” except for the fact that they now have officially raised their dissatisfaction. The same which is not entirely new in the protracted history of COSATU and the Alliance.

I think the ANC’s silence is a matured silence, because any attention given to a NUMSA “special congress” is to give it credence when nothing special will surface from it.

What is special is the fact that the GS is yet to explain or challenge the veracity of the claims of its former president that Jim, went to Nkandla ( the same place he shared security whilst being there) to negotiate a position of deputy president for the suspended Vavi.  A position that the president at the time only discovered at Nkandla and heard about for the first time. It is interesting to note that  Jim does not dispute it. Will special congress also ask of its general secretary to account how and when he obtained such mandate to negotiate on behalf of Vavi in typical kingmaker status. Can we expect accountability here also or shall we accept that NUMSA was aware of this solo effort and gave its blessing for such. Also whether the GS of NUMSA had any mandate for this.

The question that can be raised now is would Jim have been this vocal if the request was honored to have his favorite in number 2 spot? Your guess is as good as mine.

What makes this congress “special” is the fact that individuals are placed as more important than the cause of the workers. The workers have no interest in who becomes deputy president of this country or not. The workers has no interest as to whether the general secretary of  COSATU is answerable for cases of illicit intimacy in COSATU office or sale of buildings claims etc.

Again I ask how special is the special congress when its delegates will leave muddled and confused in the threat of utter rhetoric between leaving and staying to transform COSATU .

If NUMSA choose to stay then it must admit, respect and prove honourable of the duly elected leadership of COSATU. Thus allowing itself to be disciplined for this erratic behavior of cult personality. NUMSA cannot  conveniently choose to stay only because NUMSA believe its preferreed leadership gives this decades long entity of organised labour  ( COSATU) credence and veracity.

One thing is crystal clear this ‘special Congress’ is targeted with the  ANC as its real agenda point instead of NUMSA. This makes it a misplaced “special congress”. NUMSA does not have the leeway to convene a special congress to discuss and demand ANC leadership resigning. 

Finally,  perhaps this conference was a serious waste of  workers money because its resolutions will in no sense alter the existing stance which is already known before the calling of the special congress neither will it help the Vavi personality cause. We all can accept the workers -cause is clearly not central in this special congress.



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