Johannesburg – The revelations that President Jacob Zuma conspired with Secret Service agencies to establish a rival trade union to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu)in the platinum belt should be seen as the last straw, said former Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi.
“If this is true, we have a President who has not just lost the plot, but who has been busy trying to create them,” Vavi said in a statement on Monday.
“For a President to deliberately call together the equivalent of trade union mercenaries and sections of what must be considered probably the most sensitive elements of the state apparatus beggars belief," he said.
Vavi was responding to claims made in a civil suit brought against Zuma and several government ministers and departments in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.
The leaders of a trade union that was allegedly established as a covert intelligence project claimed they received instructions from Zuma to spy on rival trade unions such as Amcu.
Thebe Maswabi, one of the founding members of the Workers Association Union (WAU), a new trade union registered in 2014, is suing Zuma and several government ministers and departments for R114 million. Maswabi has claimed that he'd been instructed to establish the WAU, partly with the assistance of agents from the State Security Agency (SSA).
However, the funding provided by Zuma and the other defendants allegedly stopped, leaving Maswabi in debt.
According to Maswabi's particulars of claim filed at court, a SSA agent facilitated the first meeting between him and other would-be members of the union and Zuma in September 2013.
The alleged meeting took place at the Union Buildings.
There were a total of four meetings with Zuma throughout September and October 2013, according to court papers.
The alleged meetings were held in the wake of the Marikana massacre in 2012 and in the context of the ongoing violent strikes in the platinum sector.
"The first defendant (Zuma) had indicated that the police, army and intelligence will work hand-in-hand with the plaintiffs (Maswabi and the WAU) to bring stability within the platinum belt for the interest of the national economy," reads the particulars of claim.
The new union's mandate seemed to be very much centred on destabilising Amcu.
“To willfully plot and then implement moves deliberately designed to create division amongst workers are the actions of persons who not only undermine their oath of office, but who also undermine South African labour law, and the international conventions it has endorsed on the Freedom of Association and many other matters,” Vavi said.
He said it was clear there were attempts to undermine Amcu, and no expense was spared in doing so.
"The fact that the money promised to the Trade Union Mercenaries dried up and caused the brand new Workers Association Union to then flounder, does not detract from the fact that no 1 was behaving not like an elected President, but like a gangster, using whatever means at his disposal to promote a ‘sweetheart’ union at the expense of the tax payer, including miners in platinum.”