Numsa’s elective congress still on hold amid court battle
The Labour Court reserved judgment until this weekend.
National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) members march to Comair offices in Kempton Park on 15 March 2022. Picture: Michel Bega
The planned massive, multimillion-rand national elective congress of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), set for Monday, remained in limbo on Friday.
This is after Johannesburg Labour Court Judge Graham Moshoana reserved judgment until this weekend – after hearing a marathon argument in the case brought by Numsa second deputy president Ruth Ntlokotse – challenging the constitutionality of her suspension, along with other shopstewards and elected leaders of South Africa’s largest trade union.
Numsa has been rocked by intense leadership infighting, sparked by the suspension of Ntlokotse and several other leaders, barred by the union’s central committee from attending the congress.
Moshoana, lambasted the central committee as “a law unto itself, a gate-keeper, credentials committee, a referee and a player” – falling short of giving his much-awaited verdict.
In the application, counsel for Ntlokotse, advocate Sinclair Nhlapo, said he sought the court to declare:
- Ntlokotse’s suspension invalid, unlawful and not in compliance with the Numsa constitution.
- As a consequence of the declaration of invalidity – that she be allowed to attend the upcoming the congress, scheduled for 25 to 29 July – and participate in proceedings. v Other members’ suspensions be declared invalid and unlawful.
- Locals from the Numsa Mpumalanga region be permitted to participate and vote.
- Alternatively, that Numsa be interdicted from going ahead.
Advocate Mark Meyerowitz, for the Numsa central committee, argued that the Ntlokotse application should be struck off, saying interdicting the congress would lead to “millions of workers’ money” spent preparing for it being lost.
Meyerowitz said the central committee could suspend leaders: “The constitution provides for that.”
Counsel Nhlapo said Ntlokotse’s suspension violated Numsa’s constitution. “Only the national executive committee is vested with the powers to discipline a national office bearer.”