The start of the desperate and increasingly ugly fight for political relevance that is being played out in South African politics can be traced back to the early hours of November 8 2014. After a marathon of deliberation at a special meeting of Cosatu, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) was voted out of the trade union federation by 33 votes to 24. The official reason for itsexpulsion was on ideological grounds, but the reality was that this time it had overplayed its hand and the ANC simply didn't need it any more. Unsurprisingly, Numsa's leadership was caught off-guard. Numsa was, and remains, the biggest single trade union in SA. Prior to its expulsion, it was also the largest affiliate within Cosatu - the country's largest trade union federation. As a result, it had historically played a key role in the tripartite alliance, which, in turn, had dominated South African politics for the preceding two decades. More to the point, ideological disagreement among the membe...

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