Sadtu forces Cosatu’s hand

2014-03-09 14:00

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The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) in the Eastern Cape is threatening to ­withhold up to R2?million in subscriptions from Cosatu in support of its suspended boss, Zwelinzima Vavi, and union president Thobile Ntola.

Several branches and regional secretaries said this week that their members were angry with Cosatu and viewed the suspensions as political purging.

The branches were considering withdrawing their monthly subscriptions to the union federation.

Mncekeleli Ndongeni, Sadtu’s Eastern Cape secretary, said the union had 50?000 members in the province.

He said this meant that if all their members were to withdraw their R60?monthly contributions, the federation would lose more than R2?million monthly.

Ndongeni said Sadtu was bound by what its members were saying.

“If regions and members say they want to withdraw their monthly subscriptions, we can’t stand in their way. It’s their money and they are expressing their views,” he said.

Vavi and Ntola were due to address a workers’ forum in Mthatha’s OR Tambo district municipality on Wednesday, said Sadtu’s Wandile Ngceba, the branch secretary of the Mqanduli eastern region.

Vavi has defied Cosatu by addressing various ­platforms since his suspension last year.

Ngceba said branches felt aggrieved that the two leaders had been suspended despite Vavi admitting to a sexual relationship with a junior employee and publicly apologising.

Ntola has remained uncharged since his suspension last August.

Ngceba said: “Both these leaders are victims of a political purge. We can’t sit and watch when their rights are being violated.

We are going to put pressure until they are back in their positions. You cannot suspend the only leaders who are driving the issues of the working class.

“Vavi is being purged because he is critical of the government and is fighting for the working class. We know that.”

Ntombozuko Maqhashalala, secretary of the Kokstad region, said: “We are very clear on this matter that we want our leaders [Vavi and Ntola] back. They were elected by us. It is us who are going to remove them from office, nobody else. As teachers in this province we will be fighting for them till the end.

“We are prepared to withdraw our subscriptions. Why should we continue paying when the leaders don’t want to listen to us? This is our money,” Maqhashalala said.

Zanele Booi, the secretary of Sadtu’s central region?–?which includes East London, King William’s Town and Fort Beaufort –?said it was unfortunate that when they raised their issues with national leaders, they were labelled as “tribalist”.

Earlier this week, Cosatu’s leaders hit back at those calling for Vavi and Ntola’s reinstatement.

Cosatu’s acting general secretary, Bheki Ntshalintshali, said Vavi and Ntola’s home province, the Eastern Cape, was responsible for “disruptive activities”, which might be a “manifestation of tribalism rearing its ugly head within the federation”.

Booi said there was no tribalism at play?–?just members of the federation fighting for their leaders irrespective of where they come from.

“[Cosatu president] Sdumo Dlamini was booed in Gauteng and prevented from addressing a meeting in Limpopo. Is that tribalism? Where was the Eastern Cape then?” asked Booi.

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