Cape Town – There is nothing really new in the fractious tragi-comedy being played out on the Cosatu stage, says Terry Bell in his latest Labour Wrap. He points out that several unionists have remarked cynically that what is happening is a case of what goes around, comes around; examples of poetic justice.

These remarks, says Bell, stem from the involvement of Cosatu’s embattled general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and the co-starring National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) cast in the same sort of machinations they are now experiencing. He admits that Vavi was a leading figure in supporting the “Zuma tsunami” and played a central role in the unceremonious axing of former Cosatu president Willie Madisha.

Numsa and its general secretary Irvin Jim and deputy Karl Cloete have also in the past indulged in the same sort of bureaucratic manipulation they are now suffering. Hopefully, however, lessons have been learned.

What is new, Bell says, is the move and demand for a union-backed socialist or labour party and talk of the need to visit Bolivia for advice. But he maintains there are good lessons to be learned from the two countries to the north of us: Zimbabwe and Zambia.