Vavi vacates his office while Cosatu office bearers try to contain fall-out

2013-08-16 00:00

ZWELINZIMA Vavi emptied his office in Cosatu House yesterday while the national office bearers of the trade union tried to contain the fall-out.

S’dumo Dlamini, Cosatu president and Vavi’s main opponent in the union, yesterday said Vavi and the 26-year-old woman with whom he had sex at the office had both been placed on special leave until they had been subjected to a disciplinary hearing by an independent party.

However, any doubt about the outcome of the hearing was removed by Bheki Ntshalintshali, Vavi’s deputy who has taken over his duties until the hearing’s completion. He said Vavi had in a statement to the central executive committee admitted guilt and apologised.

Before leaving the meeting, Vavi asked the council not to look at him as an individual or to try and protect him, but to look at the principles of the federation and ensure that they were held high at all times, said Ntshalintshali.

Cosatu’s constitution allows the federation to dismiss Vavi for having had an affair in office with the young woman. Despite this and Vavi’s invitation to uphold the constitution’s principles, Cosatu’s leaders yesterday decided to play it by the book to ensure that no fingers could be pointed at the process of dismissing its general secretary.

Cosatu’s second deputy president Zingiswa Losi said Vavi’s special leave will be four weeks until September 16, when the central executive committee meets again. She said during this time “an independent … person or persons from outside the federation will be able to listen to the processes of that disciplinary hearing”.

The National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) also met yesterday to discuss its next steps. Numsa is considering withdrawing from Cosatu in solidarity with Vavi, but Dlamini said the union had not notified the trade union federation officially of this intention.

Numsa is expected to announce its decision today, but whatever direction it takes will have to be ratified at its national congress during the first week of December.

A source in Numsa told Beeld that a mini-congress of Numsa, which is known as a central committee meeting, had decided over the weekend that this congress will include disaffiliation from Cosatu on its agenda, which includes the 2014 elections.

Numsa, which is the biggest union in the trade federation with 290 000 members, will want to know if any of the other unions in Cosatu that support Vavi, will follow it if it disaffiliates.

The Food and Allied Workers’ Union (Fawu) is its strongest ally, with 126 000 members, while the teachers’ union Sadtu may follow with its 251 000 members.

Political analyst Terry Bell yesterday said Vavi’s dismissal could spark a breakaway by these unions.

He based his prediction on research done by Community Agency for Social Research (Case).

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