Writing on the wall for Vavi

2014-11-23 15:01

Enemies of Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi have vowed to deal with him once an ANC-led facilitation process to try to find a truce in the labour federation is concluded.

Two leaders of union affiliates that want him out say while they will allow the political process to take its course, that doesn’t mean disciplinary charges against Vavi will not be reinstated.

A leader of one of the affiliates that led the charge to expel metal workers’ union Numsa from the union federation told City Press that the announcement this week that Vavi’s charges are on hold does not mean the end of the story.

“There was a misunderstanding. The charges were reconfirmed. But because there is a political process, we have agreed to put them in abeyance until the intervention has been exhausted.

“We will respect the process, but we won’t allow a situation where the charges are not going to be preferred,” said the union leader, who does not want to be named.

At a press conference on Thursday, a day after a meeting of the special central executive committee, Vavi and Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini insisted no formal decision had been taken to reinstate charges against Vavi.

The charges stem mainly from his sexual affair in his office with a junior employee who has since been dismissed. Vavi is also facing charges involving possible financial irregularities related to the sale of the Cosatu House building in Braamfontein, Joburg, and for violating the conditions of his suspension after his sex scandal became public.

There are fears within the tripartite alliance that Vavi – a popular leader – could leave with a sizable chunk of Cosatu if he is forced out, hence the preference for a political solution.

But a leader from an industrial union that also doesn’t support Vavi said they were prepared to see him go – as he is not bigger than the organisation.

“People are elevating an individual above the organisation. [Former Cosatu president Willie] Madisha was also popular, but look what happened to him,” said the unionist, in reference to Madisha, who joined the Congress of the People after his expulsion from Cosatu.

Vavi has made it clear that any deal keeping him at Cosatu would have to involve negotiations aimed at bringing Numsa back into the fold.

He told journalists on Thursday that Numsa would have to be part of any negotiations regarding its future.

“You cannot shave a man in his absence,” he said.

But some of the affiliates say they suspect Numsa leaders are not interested in returning to Cosatu given their recent utterances.

“They are already forming a new federation. We have people on the ground who informed us that work is going on,” said another unionist.

Numsa this weekend held its central committee meeting. General secretary Irvin Jim sought a mandate from his union’s representatives around the country on how to fight its expulsion from Cosatu.

Vavi refused to comment when contacted yesterday.

“That’s their agenda. I can’t stop it,” he said.

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