Samwu sides with Zwelinzima Vavi, wants special congress

2013-08-29 14:31

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The SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) leadership has come out in support of suspended Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, saying the union federation should convene a special congress to resolve its internal division.

Samwu is among Cosatu’s top affiliates with a membership of more than 161 000, and adds to the calls of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA and the Food and Allied Workers’ Union for a special Cosatu congress to deal with the crisis facing it.

Vavi is on “special leave” for bringing Cosatu into disrepute after he admitted to having sex with a junior Cosatu employee at work. The woman alleged that Vavi had raped her, but has filed no criminal charges.

Speaking at the end of Samwu’s central executive committee in Boksburg today, the union’s general secretary Walter Theledi described Vavi’s suspension as “unprecedented and unacceptable to Samwu because it will plunge the federation into more divisions”.

He said: “The fact that this issue has surfaced in the media in the month of August was a plot meant to ensure that the public or any analyst will crucify our leader by hiding behind Women’s Month as an excuse.”

Samwu was one of the unions that opposed Vavi’s suspension at the Cosatu leadership meeting earlier this month, but lost the battle.

In his secretariat report to the meeting, which City Press has seen, Theledi expressed concern that some of the people who were raising concerns about Cosatu leadership were driven by the desire to enrich themselves.

“The material benefits that are being personally accrued in some quarters of the trade union movement appeared to have gained precedence over ensuring that we have a strong and democratic, accountable workers’ movement,” he told the closed meeting earlier this week.

Asked why they were reneging a decision taken by meeting at which they were represented, Theledi said unions had been ambushed by the call for the meeting to discuss the Vavi scandal as they had not had enough time to get a mandate from their membership.

The meeting called for a special congress of Cosatu, which requires a threshold of at least seven affiliates for it to take place.

Theledi dismissed concerns that they are outnumbered by Vavi detractors, saying they would lobby fellow affiliates to support the call for the summit.

The meeting also called for the Tripartite Alliance Summit, due to take place tomorrow in Pretoria, to discuss the overhaul of the National Development Plan. Members of Cosatu, the SA Communist Party and the ANC will be present.

- City Press

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