SAMWU Statement on the COSATU 13th National Congress

18 September 2018

SAMWU Statement on the COSATU 13th National Congress

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) is saddened that for the first time since we were part of the formation of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) we will not be participating at a COSATU National Congress, a trade union federation which was formed through the blood and sweat of municipal workers in South Africa.

We need to clarify that there have been a sequence of events which have resulted in us being in the situation which we find ourselves in today. The SAMWU National Office Bearers have on numerous occasions had discussions with COSATU National Office Bearers on the state and status of the union within COSATU.

SAMWU was informed by the COSATU Task Team that as a result of it not being in good standing as a result of outstanding affiliation fees, the union would not be allowed to attend our federation’s 13th National Congress.
The SAMWU Special Central Executive Committee meeting which was convened to deal with preparations prior to the COSATU 13th National Congress was informed by COSATU was informed on the 11th hour that the union would not be allowed to participate in the congress because it is not in good standing.

We should stress that this is the first time that an affiliate not in good standing had been prevented from attending a COSATU Congress or meeting because it is not in good standing. Tradition has always been that even though an affiliate is not in good standing, they would be allowed to attend any of the federation’s meetings provided that they have an observer status in such a meeting.

We were however taken aback when on the eve of the congress, SAMWU was informed that there would be no congress accreditation or documentation issued to SAMWU as a result of its standing within COSATU.

We acknowledge the fact that the union is indeed not in good standing within COSATU, the union’s National Office Bearers have made several attempts through COSATU to correct the debt which we have with the federation. We had previously had an agreement that the union would pay an amount of R3 million as settlement for the outstanding debt, an agreement which we honoured.

As a result of the sequence of events that transpired, the SAMWU CEC took a decision that it would not force its way into the COSATU 13th National Congress currently underway particularly because we have been literally shown the middle finger by the COSATU National Office Bearers.

We have taken note of reports that SAMWU disrupted the COSATU National Congress, we want to categorically state that our delegation has not set foot at the congress venue given the reasons which had been advanced by COSATU. We therefore distance ourselves from attempts and acts of disruptions which are alleged to have occurred at the congress venue today.

The SAMWU CEC is convinced that we cannot allow the COSATU National Congress to descend into chaos in our good name. There are standing Labour Court and Labour Appeals Court on the leadership of the union which is why SAMWU could not accede to a demand by COSATU on a 50/50 demand of representation towards congress.

During May Day events, COSATU CEC knows which leadership to deploy as speakers thought the country but come congress they are confused. To add insult to injury, COSATU General Secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali alleged in a Sunday newspaper report that there is infighting in SAMWU because of investment arms, yet SAMWU does not have any investment arm. This just goes to show the level of determination to push out municipal workers out of the union which they formed.

We will not be deterred by attempts by some to expel municipal workers from COSATU, we remain an affiliate of COSATU. These events leave much to be desired, and as such municipal workers will not remain silent when there are attempts to surgically remove them from COSATU.

Issued by SAMWU Secretariat

Simon Mathe
General Secretary
079 887 8389


Papikie Mohale
National Media Officer
073 710 0356