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ANC, Cosatu lose key court battles

2014-04-04 22:35
Johannesburg - The ANC and its alliance partner Cosatu lost key court battles on Friday, with a little more than a month to go before the general election.

The South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg dismissed the ANC's application against a SMS sent out by the DA accusing President Jacob Zuma of stealing public funds to upgrade his Nkandla home.

The court also set aside the suspension of Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.

The outcomes in both cases were welcomed by political parties and trade unions.

The Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus) said the court findings were a serious blow to the ANC.

"These two judgments offer the opportunity to expose the ANC for that which they truly are, and for the voters to take a decision in favour of a better future for South Africa on 7 May," said FF Plus leader Pieter Mulder.

"The reinstatement of Vavi as the general secretary of Cosatu will definitely reveal the cracks in the ANC and Cosatu's alliance."

A split in Cosatu could have far-reaching consequences for the ANC, Mulder said.

Acting Judge Mike Hellens ruled that the DA's SMS was fair comment.

"The totality of the [public protector's] findings speak of an untrammelled and uncontrolled, or substantially uncontrolled, access to public funds to benefit, without adequate lawful authority, the state president," Hellens said in his judgment.

Last month, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found that Zuma and his family unduly benefited from R246m in security upgrades to his private home in KwaZulu-Natal.

The DA said in its SMS: "The Nkandla report shows how Zuma stole your money to build his R246m home. Vote DA on 7 May to beat corruption. Together for change."

The ANC said it felt Hellens had erred in dismissing the application and ignoring the Electoral Act.

The DA welcomed the judgment as victory for freedom of speech.

Vavi ruling

In the Vavi matter, Deputy Judge President Phineas Mojapelo found that Cosatu breached its constitution when it suspended Vavi.

"They did not vote when a vote was prescribed. No valid decision was taken in those circumstances," he said in his judgment.

"The decision... is declared invalid... and accordingly set aside."

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), which had initiated the court application for Vavi's reinstatement welcomed the judgment. Numsa members inside the court room cheered on Friday when Mojapelo concluded his judgment.

"[The judgment] has vindicated our long-standing belief that the suspension was politically engineered to undo the democratic choice of worker delegates... who, in September 2012, democratically elected comrade Vavi," deputy general secretary Karl Cloete said outside the court.

"While we are relieved that this costly, but avoidable court battle is over, we hope the Cosatu leadership will have the political and organisational discipline to respect the decision of the court and abide by it fully."

Vavi's wife Noluthando told reporters she felt justice had been done.

She was in court on Friday, but her husband was not because his daughter had been involved in a car accident in Queenstown, Eastern Cape.

The National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), which supported Cosatu's decision to suspend Vavi, said it would consult with its legal advisers and Cosatu leaders about appealing the judgment.

Cosatu is expected to discuss the way forward at a special central executive committee meeting on Tuesday.

Read more on: cosatu  |  da  |  ff plus  |  anc  |  zwelinzima vavi  |  jacon zuma  |  johannesburg  |  elections 2014  |  politics  |  nkandla upgrade

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