Cosatu hits back – in public

2014-03-04 17:08

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The leadership of Cosatu has decided to air its dirty laundry in public.

After “restraining ourselves from responding to attacks” from renegade affiliate the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and suspended general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, acting general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali today spoke out.

The leadership of Cosatu said Vavi and Numsa had publicly undermined the leadership of Cosatu, and wanted members to stop participating in disruptions of meetings of Cosatu leaders in some province in support of Vavi.

Ntshalintshali questioned whether the support for Vavi, which is concentrated in the Eastern Cape, was not motivated by “tribalism” because the province is where Vavi’s ancestors come from.

In a tweet, Vavi dismissed the accusation of tribalism as “desperation”.

So far, meetings of Cosatu leaders with members have been disrupted in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Gauteng.

On Friday, Gauteng shop stewards would not allow Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini to speak to them.

Instead, they sang songs demanding Vavi’s reinstatement.

Speaking after today’s meeting of Cosatu’s top five leaders, Ntshalintshali said demands by the dissidents included calling for a special national congress and mounting attacks on the ANC and the SA Communist Party. Their call also included the reinstatement of Vavi’s ally Thobile Ntola.

“If it [tribalism] is not stopped, we may find it happening in every part of the country and have it used to whip up emotions of our people in the process of drumming up support for disgruntled individuals.

“We refuse to accept that these disruptive activities may be based on tribalism.

“But all these were inspired by what they have seen in the Eastern Cape and where there were no consequences for putting the name of the organisation into disrepute,” Ntshalintshali said.

He said the leadership of Cosatu would go to the provinces to “establish the facts about the forces behind these activities and listen to what our structures are saying”.

The leadership of Cosatu denied that they were calling others to play by the rules when they themselves had been dragging their feet and refusing to call the special national congress the disgruntled affiliates have been calling for in line with the federation’s constitution.

Ntshalintshali also outlined the disciplinary charges against Vavi, which are related to:

» Recruiting and employing the staff member whom he had admitted to having sex with at work;

» Having a relationship with the staff member;

» Conversion of the staff member into an employee;

» Supervision of this particular staff member;

» Distribution of an internal grievance and response; » Personal expenses and travel;

» Carte Blanche interview;

» Breach of suspension conditions; and

» Utterances derogatory to Cosatu and its leadership.

“We therefore want Cosatu membership to know that the general secretary is on suspension for no other reason other than that he violated Cosatu’s code of conduct ... like anyone else, he has a responsibility to come before the disciplinary process and clear his name,” Ntshalintshali said.

The meeting also discussed Numsa’s decision to form a united front, and said it was clear that the union wanted to form its own political party.

Ntshalintshali said Cosatu would still allow its affiliate time to respond to the charge that it has violated Cosatu’s policies, and explain why it should not be suspended or expelled.

“As things now stand, we see Numsa’s leadership pursuing an agenda that not only stands in opposition to Cosatu policies but that is aimed at destroying Cosatu and at destroying the ANC and the SACP. These cannot be done in the name of Cosatu.

“We want to call on all our structures and members, including Numsa, to see through Numsa’s leadership agenda for what it really is – a programme aimed at ensuring that Cosatu is weakened, calculated to ensure that the ANC loses elections and the SACP is also liquidated so that all these formations can be replaced by Numsa and its allies,” he said.

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