Dlamini: Cosatu will be stirred, but not shaken

2015-04-05 15:00

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Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini has admitted that the expulsion of general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi will result in some members and unions breaking away from the federation, though he is confident it can avoid a split.

Dlamini, who has been at loggerheads with Vavi, blamed the federation’s implosion on Vavi’s “lies”.

“We can only mitigate the impact and work to reduce the impact of this thing. Yes, avoiding a split, yes avoiding a situation where a huge number of workers or unions say ‘we are leaving Cosatu’,” said Dlamini.

Dlamini believes the federation will be able to convince its affiliates, including five unions that have boycotted Cosatu’s central executive committee, not to sever their partnership.

“The events of last week were not a small thing. It’s a very big thing for the federation to expel its general secretary who has been at the helm for the past 15 years, and who is loved by workers in this country,” he said.

“It will be explained to members that we’ve reached that decision informed by the decision of the congress. They must support the decisions and move forward.”

Dlamini is hoping that only members of affiliated unions, whom he believes are more loyal to Vavi than the federation – and not whole unions – will follow Vavi.

“Will Cosatu split? I don’t see Cosatu unions announcing ‘we are now breaking away from Cosatu’, because there is no Cosatu union that has gone to a congress and held a congress that has given them a decision to break away,” said Dlamini.

He predicted that some members of the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) would also move to the SA Public Service Union, which was established by axed Sadtu president Thobile Ntola, who has thrown his weight behind Vavi.

“If Samwu has suspended or expelled other people in anger, they will be saying, let’s go to that [new] union.

“If in Satawu there are people who have been suspended, they may think about that. Our aim is to save Cosatu; to say let’s remain with Cosatu.”

Vavi, meanwhile, denied lobbying for a Cosatu split and blamed former National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union general secretary Fikile Majola, now an ANC MP, and Dlamini for saying a split was “unavoidable”.

“Majola sat in the central executive committee?...?and said: ‘A split is unavoidable.’ He said they were ‘working on an assumption that there is a split coming. We have made a calculation that that’s the only movement forward, we need a split. What we cannot accept is the presence of Vavi and Numsa in this federation.’ Majola said: ‘We want to collapse this Cosatu as it exists now and build something fresh in its place,’” said Vavi, who denied having any political ambitions and claimed he knew nothing about Numsa lobbying ANC president Jacob Zuma in Nkandla for him to become deputy president of the ANC ahead of the Mangaung conference in 2012.

Vavi said power relations in the alliance also needed to change because having workers in the same “bed” as employers (ANC) only served the ruling party.

“If we can’t transform the alliance to be an instrument to transform, why keep it as a symbolic thing for vote-catching only, or to help leaders land in Parliament? Whose agenda is that? All we see close to the elections is a summit and, after elections, it’s business as usual,” said Vavi.

But Dlamini said Vavi only had himself to blame for his ouster and warned him not to take on the ANC because that would “kill his political career”.

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