Workers' alliance implodes as egoism blinds union leaders

11 November 2014 - 02:01 By The Times Editorial
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It's "disappointing and tragic", said ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe yesterday. He was commenting on the decision by the party's alliance partner, labour federation Cosatu, to expel its biggest affiliate, Numsa.

The ANC said it would encourage dialogue among the warring factions.

With other affiliated unions suspending their involvement in Cosatu, the question is: How will the federation emerge from this crisis?

Those who are beholden to the current leadership of the federation will fight tooth and nail to protect their interests as Numsa hoists its socialist flag for all to see.

The split might be the medicine Cosatu needs at a time when selfless leadership is in short supply in South Africa.

The behaviour of leaders of Cosatu, SA Communist Party, ANC and organised labour tells us that we do not have visionaries who can put unity above personal interest.

Cosatu will have to use this crisis for thorough introspection. Is it still true to its mandate of putting workers first?

Union leaders these days seem to be more concerned about ANC events than with workers' issues. The politics of the stomach have taken over and ego-driven decisions now triumph over principle.

If Numsa walks away and establishes a new home for workers we are likely to see the worsening of violence in the labour sector as the unions fight for a space.

Those who have been kicked out of the broad church of the ANC are difficult to control, as we have seen with Joseph Mathunjwa and his Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.

Today we report on chaos in Tshwane, where a group of people, with the complicity of the provincial EFF, illegally grabbed land and divided it among themselves.

Such incidents tell of a ruling party that is being challenged by those who once formed part of its broad congregation.