Vavi: Is this Cosatu’s turning point?

2013-08-14 13:18

What could happen to Zwelinzima Vavi today, and where will that leave labour federation Cosatu? Carien du Plessis and Sabelo Ndlangisa speculate.

Cosatu’s special central executive committee, consisting of officials of all its affiliates and provincial leaders, is meeting today to decide on the general secretary’s fate after he admitted to having sex with a woman he employed at Cosatu.

The committee could:

» Vote to retain Vavi;

» Vote to suspend Vavi;

» Vote to remove him from his position altogether;

» Postpone the issue to next month’s ordinary central executive committee meeting;

» Or affiliates could band together and call a special conference to decide his fate.

But if Vavi goes:

» One of Cosatu’s strongest affiliates, metalworkers’ union Numsa, might decide to leave the federation.

Numsa could take smaller affiliates, like municipal union Samwu and food and allied workers’ union Fawu, with them and form a new labour federation.

» Cosatu could lose members to rival unions as Vavi has a lot of support on the ground.

» The ANC could have a hard time running next year’s election campaign because Vavi has previously helped to win votes in areas where trust in the ANC is low, like Nelson Mandela Bay and among the middle classes.

» Government would face less vocal opposition implementing programmes like e-tolls.

If Vavi doesn’t go:

» He will be weaker. The sex claim has damaged his reputation in the eyes of those who saw him as morally virtuous.

» His detractors might try to trump up other charges to discredit him.

» The fight could resurface in future meetings at the expense of Cosatu programmes and campaigns, like the resistance to e-tolls.

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