Saftu President in Numsa crosshairs as union moves to discipline here

Members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa demonstrate in Johannesburg.

Photo: Gallo Images/Sharon Seretlo

  • The National Union of Metalworkers of SA disciplines the president of its umbrella organization Ruth Ntlokotse for misconduct.
  • This disciplinary notice and charges come after Ntlokotse’s bitter struggle to have the July Numsa conference and its findings null and void in court.
  • Ntlokotse confirmed to News24 that she had received the notification and charges, but sees it as an attempt to purge the union of challengers.
  • For more financial news go to News24 Business front page.

South Africa’s Confederation of Trade Unions (Saftu) President Ruth Ntlokotse is under fire for her capacity as a member of the Confederation’s largest and wealthiest affiliate, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa). The union informed her that they would take disciplinary action against her for misconduct.

Her charges come months after Ntlokotse launched a court challenge to ban the Numsa national election conference in July and an unsuccessful attempt to have the conference and its results declared null and void by the Labor Court.

In her July court filings, Ntlokotse said she and other Numsa members were barred from attending the conference because she planned to run for Numsa president. Instead, Andrew Chirwa was re-elected as Numsa President and Puleng Phaka was elected second Deputy President, the post previously held by Ntlokotse.

But Ntlokotse was elected president of Saftu at the association’s national election conference in May after defeating Mac Chavalala for the position.

Since she was elected President of Saftu, Ntlokotse and Saftu General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi have been at odds with the Numsa leadership over control of Numsa, Saftu’s largest subsidiary with over 330,000 members. Saftu already lost the South African Police Union as an affiliate earlier this month.

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The disciplinary proceedings and indictments come amid a bitter feud between Saftu leaders and Numsa General Secretary Irvin Jim and Numsa President Chirwa.

Here the charge sheet contains three charges. This includes a failure to return union property after giving up its national office. She is also accused of writing an open letter objecting to taking over the board of trustees of 3Sixty Life as Numsa’s life insurance company and running for the presidency of Saftu, even though the union would support Chavalala for the presidency of Saftu.

In the letter to Ntlokotse, Jim said the union will act on the decision made in October to discipline them.

“The union has decided to call your disciplinary hearing before an independent Gauteng attorney. The disciplinary hearing is scheduled to take place on a date that will be communicated to you in due course,” the letter reads.

The letter said Numsa reserves the right to increase the disciplinary charge if the union becomes aware of additional files of alleged misconduct before the hearing begins.

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Ntlokotse confirmed to News24 that she had received notification of the disciplinary proceedings and the indictment. She said the disciplinary action was an attempt to purge the union of her and other members who opposed Jim and Chirwa.

“I’m not the only person. There are a number of workers who have received letters explaining why they should not be charged,” Ntlokotse said.

Numsa spokeswoman Phakamile Hlubi-Majola did not comment.

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