Vavi on suspension: I know some are celebrating

2013-08-15 08:10

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Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi this morning spoke out about his suspension on Twitter, admitting to his error and saying some remained unforgiving despite his apology.

“I committed an error & have profusely apologised to everyone hurt by my indiscretion. That was a right thing to do," he tweeted.

In the next tweet he said: “I am relieved so many have accepted that apology and recognise that some remain unforgiving. Know others celebrating and rubbing salt."

Vavi hasn’t yet confirmed that he was suspended, but it is expected that Cosatu will issue an official statement through its president, Sdumo Dlamini, later today.

A special meeting of the labour federation’s central executive committee at Cosatu House in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, voted last night to suspend its general secretary of the past 14 years, according to various sources not mandated to speak officially.

The meeting followed an admission by Vavi that he had had sex with a 26-year-old woman he appointed to work for Cosatu after meeting her at an airport check-in counter.

The woman has reportedly also been suspended.

It is understood that the charges to be investigated include bringing the organisation into disrepute and also whether Vavi had acted improperly in appointing her. Earlier the possibility was also mentioned that the labour federation could internally pursue the grievance originally made by the woman after claiming Vavi had raped her.

One of Vavi’s allies, metalworkers’ union Numsa, is also expected to call a press conference. It is expected that they will fight Vavi’s suspension.

Its spokesperson, Castro Ngobese, last night tweeted: “You can rejoice for now, but not for too long, workers are not fools, they know your handlers. You shall be defeated soon."

He also said e-tolls will now go ahead, the National Development Plan, which Vavi opposed as “neo-liberal”, will be escalated and labour brokers, against which Vavi had fought, will not be banned.

Vavi, who apologised to the meeting for his actions, left the boardroom where 50 leaders of union affiliates and of Cosatu voted on the issue after a tough meeting of almost 10 hours which ended just before 9pm.

It is understood that Vavi left the boardroom around 2pm when the meeting resumed after a lunch break during which presidents and secretaries of affiliates settled issues about credentials and about whether Vavi’s deputy, Bheki Ntshalintshali, had the power to call a special meeting.

Numsa argued that the special meeting was not constituted according to Cosatu’s constitution and the issues should be postponed to next month’s scheduled meeting.

There was also an intense debate over whether unions who did not have their subscriptions paid up to Cosatu could participate in the meeting. Mineworkers’ union NUM, one of Vavi’s detractors, is understood to be in arrears.

According to some reports, Vavi’s suspension will be couched as “special leave” while charges against him are investigated.

It is expected that Vavi’s deputy, Ntshalintshali, will act in his position.

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