Vavi calls for new leaders

2013-11-24 10:00

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Cosatu general secretary says the labour federation’s executive needs an overhaul

Embattled Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi yesterday tore into his detractors in the labour federation’s leadership, saying the only way to unite it was to hold a special congress and elect new leaders.

Vavi told a special provincial ­congress of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) in Durban that the paralysis in the federation was a consequence of “class contradictions” playing themselves out within it and the ANC-led ­alliance.

His renewed call for a special congress of the federation comes at a time when Cosatu’s leadership has deferred a decision on the matter.

It is about to conclude its investigation into whether or not to press disciplinary charges against Vavi.

Vavi, banned from speaking at Cosatu affiliates’ meetings as part of his suspension, called on delegates to ensure that the federation was not a “sissy union” or “sweetheart union”, which was merely a conveyor belt for people planning their parliamentary careers at workers’ expense.

Yesterday’s congress was called as part of Numsa’s mobilisation for its own special national congress next month, a crucial step in the militant Cosatu affiliate’s bid to force fresh leadership elections and oust president S’dumo Dlamini, who is accused of spearheading the drive to force both Vavi and Numsa out of the federation.

The left, Vavi said, had lost control of the ANC to “black and African capitalists” who were now pushing the National Development Plan (NDP) as a means of consolidating their own interests to the detriment of the working class.

Conceding that he had “scored an own goal’’ by having sex with a ­Cosatu employee, Vavi, accompanied by his wife, Noluthando, said delegates to the ANC conference in Mangaung had adopted the NDP without reading it.

Meanwhile, Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim says Cosatu’s biggest union will not hand over the federation “to those who want to ­destroy its character”.

The union has decided to go ahead with its special congress in Boksburg next month, despite Cosatu’s decision to investigate Numsa’s leadership for organising ­disruptions of Cosatu meetings and not supporting its anti e-toll march.

The meeting, Jim told City Press, should resolve the crisis that has paralysed the country’s biggest labour federation.

He denied that the union intends to use its indaba to split from Cosatu, saying Numsa was still committed to remaining in the federation.

“We have no interest in fragmenting the unity of workers in this country at this juncture ... We have no reason to opt out of the federation,” he said. Speculation is rife that Numsa will abandon the ANC next year, fuelled by Jim’s statement that the ANC has failed to implement the Freedom Charter.

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