Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO
Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO

THE National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has called on President Jacob Zuma to resign.

"The congress called on President Jacob Zuma to resign with immediate effect because of his administration’s pursuit of neo-liberal policies such as the National Development Plan, e-tolls, labour brokers, the youth wage subsidy and his administration’s track record which is steeped in corruption, patronage and nepotism," Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said on Friday, reading from the union’s special national congress declaration.

The roughly 1,000 delegates at the congress erupted into applause as the announcement was made.

The R206m worth of upgrades at Mr Zuma’s homestead in Nkandla, and the landing of guests at the Waterkloof air base for a wedding of one of the members of the Gupta family was among the reasons for the move.

"President Zuma’s administration has been marked by one scandal after another... President Zuma’s administration continues to be characterised by lack of transparency and attempts to hide the workings of the state from the public."

The final decisions from the congress were announced by Mr Jim and are likely to raise political temperatures in the alliance ahead of the 2014 polls. The call by Numsa is the strongest indication of growing frustration with Mr Zuma’s leadership from within the alliance.

The union has also taken a decision not to provide any support for the African National Congress (ANC) in the 2014 elections, as it had done since 1994.

"Numsa calls on Cosatu (Congress of South African Trade Unions) to break from the alliance. The time for an alternative has arrived," Mr Jim said.

Numsa has been debating its continued role in the alliance over the last four days at a special national congress. The move toward the congress was set in motion by the deep divisions in its federation, Cosatu and the ANC’s adoption of the National Development Plan at its Mangaung conference in December. The moves by Numsa are likely to place the union on a collision course with Cosatu and the rest of the alliance partners, the ANC and the South African Communist Party (SACP).

It also has broader ramifications for the governing alliance, as the country heads toward its 20th year of democracy.

"The working class no longer sees the ANC and the SACP as an ally," Mr Jim said reading from the declaration.

"The working class is used by the ANC as voting fodder."

Mr Jim said Numsa and its 333,000 members will neither "endorse nor support the ANC or any other political party in 2014". It however recognised the right of its members to vote.

"Officials and shop stewards who feel the need to campaign for the ANC or any political organisation will have to do this in their own time and using their own resources. Any individual member is entitled in their own time to be active in any political party including getting elected to leadership positions. However, no Numsa office bearer is allowed to hold any office bearer position in any political party.

"Numsa will cease to pay into the Cosatu/SACP political levy," Mr Jim said. Cosatu has taken a decision to impose a political levy on its affiliates — Numsa’s decision is in direct defiance of Cosatu’s top leadership structure, its central executive committee decision.

Numsa has taken a decision to lead the establishment of a new "United Front", mimicking the United Democratic Front from the 1980s.

It has further decided to explore the establishment of a "Movement for Socialism".

"The working class needs a political organisation committed to its policies and actions to the establishment of a socialist South Africa.

"We will commission an international study on the historical formation of working class parties ... from mass worker parties to vanguard parties," Mr Jim said.