Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu)’s special national congress began on Monday with the media being kicked out before the formal programme began. Cosatu first deputy president Tyotyo James announced that the media was instructed to leave the conference venue at Gallagher Estate, Midrand. Aggressive security officials were then instructed to escort the media out the main hall. It is understood that Cosatu office bearers did not want the media to witness the controversial credential process.
During this process, each delegation’s numbers are decided upon and endorsed and it could determine the outcome of the conference should matters be put to a vote.
The eight rebel Cosatu unions who have been backing expelled Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi were determined to raise objections during the credential process. The rebel unions are Numsa; the Food and Allied Workers Union; SA Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union; Public and Allied Workers Union of SA; SA State and Allied Workers Union; Communication Workers Union; SA Football Players Union; Democratic Nursing Union and some members of the SA Municipal Workers Union.
They do not want Cosatu’s second deputy president Zingiswa Losi to be present at the conference and object to her remaining in her position despite resigning from the now expelled metalworkers union Numsa.
The unions have argued that Losi should have been relieved from her position as a national leader after she resigned as a Numsa shop steward.
However, Losi and her sympathisers have argued that she could remain in her position now that she has joined policing union Popcru and has been elected a shop steward.
The rebel unions also planned to dispute the entrance of metalworkers union Limusa into Cosatu and their presence at the congress. These unions also indicated that they plan to call for the reinstatement of Numsa and Vavi back into Cosatu.
On Friday, Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini said this would not be tolerated. Divisions between the unions were seen as delegates sang derogatory songs against Cosatu leaders.
Earlier, James called on delegates not to sing songs for or against particular individuals.
Food and Allied Workers Union delegates sang “Sdumo is a liar and a cheater” while songs against Vavi were also heard.
The theme of the special conference is “Building unity and cohesion of Cosatu to advance the National Democratic Revolution”.
The ANC’s delegation to the congress was led by treasurer Zweli Mkhize and included science and technology minister Naledi Pandor, economic development minister Ebrahim Patel, public works minister Thulas Nxesi and Free State premier Ace Magashule
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