Court battles take Cosatu to the cleaners – Sdumo Dlamini

2014-10-02 15:51

Court cases are bankrupting the Congress of South African Trade Unions, says the federation’s president Sdumo Dlamini.

Cosatu is in and out of courts, defending itself from its own members, Dlamini told the South African Democratic Teachers Union’s eighth congress at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg, east of Joburg, today.

The four-day congress will discuss policy and elect new leaders.

“Cosatu is battling financially. Large portions of its funds are used to defend itself in court. And we have the right to defend ourselves. But our money should be used to service members and not to fight court cases. They [court cases] don’t come cheap.”

Dlamini said he had observed a similar trend in Sadtu.

“We can’t have courts solve our problems. We are spending more time in court defending our own decisions instead of servicing our members”.

Both Cosatu and Sadtu have been in and out of court recently, defending actions brought by their own members. In August, Sadtu in the Eastern Cape rushed to the Mthatha High Court to bar the union’s national leadership from declaring its provincial congress null and void. Sadtu’s national executive committee had also blocked its Eastern Cape leadership from accessing its bank account.

Last year, Cosatu suspended its general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, prompting him to drag the union to court to have his suspension overturned. The courts obliged and Vavi was reinstated.

Dlamini also spoke passionately about the unity of the alliance.

“Workers expect nothing from us other than the unity of the federation. The task of uniting Cosatu is not only about defending Cosatu, but also the alliance.”

He said all workers should continue to defend Cosatu.

“We will do so with or without those who want to destroy Cosatu. In any revolution, some become destroyers of the same revolution. If Sadtu is alive, Cosatu is also alive.”

Cosatu has also been hit by internal strife that threatened to split the federation. The divisions were caused by Vavi’s suspension, which saw a number of the federation’s affiliates group themselves into pro- and anti-Vavi factions.

“People pronounced us dead some eight months ago. But we are still standing, standing even stronger. As leaders we found this Cosatu and when we leave it will remain. Cosatu has been under severe attack internally and externally.”

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga also gave a message of support, saying a split in Sadtu would be disastrous.

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