Under the banner, “30 Years of Unbroken Revolutionary Trade Union Struggle,” delegates to the 14th Congress of ICEM South African affiliate National Union Mineworkers’ (NUM), held in Kempton Park near Johannesburg from 23-27 May, gave renewed three-year terms to President Senzeni Zokwana and General Secretary Frans Baleni in contested elections.
Zokwana, also the ICEM President, topped challenger Joe Montisetse with a 641 to 458 vote count, while Baleni, an ICEM Executive Committee member, bested Deputy General Secretary Oupa Komane 637 to 461.
A total of 1,200 delegates participated in the 320,000-member NUM’s triennial Congress, timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the founding of South Africa’s preeminent trade union. Some 80 international delegates took part, including ICEM General Secretary Manfred Warda and Director of Industry and Corporate Affairs Kemal Özkan, International Metalworkers’ Federation General Secretary Jyrki Raina, and Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) General Secretary Ambet Yuson.
President Senzeni Zokwana
In his opening remarks, Zokwana said: “Our union will mobilize membership and remain active and vigilant.” He said NUM’s primary task will continue to recruit and unify new members, to improve condition of services, to develop class consciousness and to defend the rights of the working class at all workplaces.
The Congress heard keynote speaker Jacob Zuma, President South Africa, praise the historic role that NUM played in liberating the country from the wrath of apartheid. He also urged NUM members not to become “paper revolutionaries,” a reference to non-involvement in ruling party African National Congress (ANC) deliberations.
“I feel very strongly that your participation as workers in the ANC is vital,” said Zuma. “You cannot make the issue of your ANC membership a casual one.”
In his address to the Congress, Warda recounted the contributions made by the NUM in working-class struggles throughout the world. “The ICEM is extremely grateful to the NUM for providing great leadership to our Global Union Federation in making us more progressive, more active and more relevant in the world’s trade union movement.”
Warda, on behalf of the ICEM, closed his address by announcing the ICEM’s contribution to a memorial fund set up by the NUM for the family of Pinky Mosiane.
Manfred Warda and NUM’s Pinky Mosiane Monetary Contribution
She was brutally raped and murdered by a co-worker or co-workers on 6 February inside a mine owned by American Platinum (Amplats) in Rustenburg, North West Province. The ICEM announcement spurred other unions in attendance, including BWI, United Steelworkers (USW), Mining and Energy Division of Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), to also pledge contributions.
Baleni presented both an organizational report and an international report, the latter outlining the important role the NUM plays inside global labour, particularly in mining sector trade unionism and within the ICEM spectrum.
Delegates Displaying Revolutionary Spirit
Delegates passed resolutions calling for amnesty on black-listing South Africans faced with debts up to R200,000, a call to the nation’s mining companies to stop exports to Israel, the decriminalization of sex work, and a ban on labour brokers.
The Congress also rejected wholesale nationalization of most industries, calling such moves non-strategic and something that would result in nationalizing mining debt and providing bail-outs to mine investors. corset tops Following the close of Congress late in the evening of 26 May, the NUM held a report-back rally the next day with rank-and-file miners in nearby Carletonville.
Also elected to NUM leadership positions were: David Macatha, National Treasurer; Tshimane Montoedi, Deputy General Secretary; Piet Matosa, Deputy President; Peter Bailey, National Chair for Health and Safety; Eric Gcilitshana, National Secretary for Health and Safety; Ecliff Tantsi, National Secretary for Education; and Helen Diatile, National Chair for Education.