NUM elective congress off to a chaotic start
The hotly-contested National Union of Mineworkers' elective congress got off to a chaotic start on Wednesday‚ as members fought over credentials.
The union’s national leadership disbanded its militant Rustenburg region just a few weeks before the gathering‚ a move that has angered the members. The union was still debating the status of members belonging to that region who were present at the congress by midday on Wednesday.
Those opposed to the move shouted and sang‚ disrupting speakers who sought to address the issue.
Num has been deeply divided for almost a decade‚ with infighting contributing to its membership losses as some members defected to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu)‚ which overtook Num to become the biggest mining union in the country.
Num had a membership of more than 300,000 in 2011‚ with the figure declining to 197,000 in 2018.
All leadership positions except deputy general secretary are being contested at the congress.
General secretary David Sipunzi will be up against Carletonville regional secretary Mbuyiseli Hibana‚ while long-standing president Piet Matosa will be contested by his deputy Joseph Montisetse.
The differences between the president and his deputy were evident on Wednesday‚ with factions aligned to both sought to discredit either leader when they took to the podium.
“We are here‚ we have been here and we know what happened (with regards to Rustenburg). There is no information that will be put under the carpet. We can’t run away from engaging. The only thing that will assist us is to allow different views to be expressed in this congress‚” Matosa said‚ trying to calm tensions.
“Singing when another delegate is on the platform is un-Num‚” he added.
Num’s longstanding health and safety chairperson Peter Bailey has been nominated for the position of deputy president. He is being contested by Num North East regional chairperson Phillip Vilakazi.
The new leadership will be announced on Friday. Mineral Resources minister Gwede Mantashe was expected to address the congress on Wednesday.
Mantashe will be looked upon to explain the government’s plan to curb mining accidents which have claimed dozens of mineworkers’ lives since the start of the year. In 2017‚ mining fatalities rose for the first time in 10 years.