Vavi suspension ‘dominant trend’ during Cosatu debate – source

2013-08-14 17:54

Cosatu’s general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi might not be fired outright but could face suspension from the labour federation, if this afternoon’s central executive committee (CEC) debate is anything to go by.

A source at Cosatu House told City Press that most of the CEC members, who have been locked in a special meeting since 11am to discuss his fate, were pushing for his suspension.

This was the “dominant trend” in the debate this afternoon, he said.

But another source at the meeting denied that this was the case but admitted the meeting was “tough”.

The CEC, which comprises officials from Cosatu’s affiliates and labour federation provincial leaders, could vote to expel, suspend or retain Vavi following his admission that he had an affair with a woman he appointed to work at Cosatu House, the federation’s headquarters in Joburg.

Metal workers’ union Numsa, one of his biggest Cosatu affiliates, was trying to push for the meeting to be postponed to the regular one in September, but they did not succeed.

A source who was not in the meeting but who is privy to discussions inside the unions, speculated that Vavi’s detractors might try to suspend him to frustrate him and render him powerless.

“Vavi is one man you don’t cross,” he said. “If they don’t deal with him, they themselves will be dealt with. They might suspend him for a long time and drag the process on, and try to frustrate him so even if he wins the case, he will be neutered.”

He speculated that Numsa’s reported threats to call a special conference in December and consider breaking away from Cosatu should the outcome of the meeting not be favourable to Vavi, could be a strategy to eventually force reconciliation.

Cosatu is likely to make important concessions to prevent a break-away as it had already been severely crippled by members leaving for rival unions in the recent past.

In 2005 Cosatu’s position on Zuma’s rape charge was to welcome his suspension from participation in ANC leadership positions until the rape trial was over.

“Cosatu fully supports his position. It is the right thing to do. Any leader accused of such a hideous crime must at least take leave until such time that the allegations have been proven to be correct or incorrect.”

Although the woman Vavi had an affair with has since withdrawn her grievance, it has been reported that Cosatu could investigate the rape claim internally. It could also decide to investigate whether Vavi had abused his position to employ the woman and demand sex from her in return.

Affiliate leaders seemed to mask their tension with joviality as they trickled into Cosatu House with their union colleagues this morning.

The meeting was set to continue well into the night.

» This story was updated after first published t0 add the comments of the source who was privy to the discussions.

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