Suspended Sadtu boss heads for court

2013-10-30 17:21

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Suspended SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) president Thobile Ntola is challenging his suspension in the South Gauteng High Court.

His lawyers this week filed papers, asking the courts to set the suspension aside and declare it invalid, unlawful and unconstitutional.

A special Sadtu national executive committee meeting suspended Ntola in August, making him the first casualty in the battle to remove union federation Cosatu’s general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.

Ntola told City Press that he is challenging his suspension because his rights were violated.

“My rights were violated, my freedom of association was violated and they want to tell me who I should associate with and who not to associate with. The way I was dealt with was not according to the law,” he said.

According to him, Sadtu didn’t call him to give his side of the story. “People should be heard before being suspended. They should be asked why they shouldn’t be suspended. All these were not done in my case”, he said, adding that as a union that fought for human rights and fair labour practice, Sadtu should know better.

Sadtu suspended Ntola for answering journalists’ questions about Vavi’s suspension. He had also given Vavi a platform to speak at a meeting arranged by the union’s Eastern Cape chapter.

Cosatu suspended Vavi, also in August, after he had revealed that he had sex with a junior employee in the union’s offices.

Ntola is a strong ally of Vavi. Following Vavi’s suspension, divisions in Cosatu deepened with affiliates such as metal workers’ union Numsa threatening to withdraw from Cosatu.

Numsa, under the leadership of its firebrand secretary-general Irvin Jim will in December host a special congress to decide its future within Cosatu. Six other unions supporting Vavi have pushed Cosatu to host a special congress for Cosatu’s members to decide Vavi’s future.

Cosatu’s president Sdumo Dlamini is yet to give details about the proposed special congress.

Sadtu’s secretary-general, Mugwena Maluleke, said the union would defend its decision in court. “We will, we will defend it. We can’t allow a court of law to determine Sadtu’s constitution.

“We will be defending the constitution of Sadtu. There are internal processes which all Sadtu’s members should abide by, but if they go outside we can’t fold our arms. We have to defend the constitution,” he said.

Vavi is also challenging his suspension in court.

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