Saftu on the cusp of suspending Zwelinzima Vavi

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Zwelinzima Vavi.
Zwelinzima Vavi.
Picture: Jabu Kumalo
  • South African Federation of Trade Unions secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi has been asked by union leadership to explain why he should not be suspended.
  • In a letter, federation president Mac Chavalala said a Tuesday meeting discussed transgressions that warrant investigation and disciplinary action.
  • Chavalala did not deny the letter and said the matters contained therein would be addressed and action would be announced in due course.


Nearly a decade after being ousted from the ANC-aligned Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), labour stalwart Zwelinzima Vavi is on the cusp of being suspended from the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) as its secretary-general.

A letter from Saftu president Mac Chavalala, which Fin24 has seen, asked the Saftu secretary-general to give cause for why he should not be suspended by the close of business on Thursday, following a meeting on Tuesday, which decided in favour of Vavi's precautionary suspension.

Vavi also had to walk away from Cosatu in 2015 following infighting. He has since been an outspoken critic of Cosatu as well as the ANC government during his time as general secretary of Saftu.

Vavi's ouster from Cosatu - following reports of an affair in the office of the labour federation - triggered an exodus of robust private sector unions, including the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), which left with Cosatu with 24 of its affiliates and 800 000 union members to form Saftu in 2017.

In the letter, dated 15 March, Chavalala advises Vavi that the Tuesday meeting discussed "quite a number of transgressions" and "acts of misconduct and misbehaviour" which warrant investigation and disciplinary action.

"This investigations [sic] will, amongst others, be about the alleged violations of the constitution, breach of administration and finance policy and disrespecting or undermining constitutional structural decisions and resolutions," Chavalala said.

READ | ANALYSIS | Cosatu stay-away a crapshoot that could expose its deficiencies

Upon being contacted by Fin24, Chavalala said the federation did not circulate the letter to the media but did not deny or refute its authenticity. He said the matters in the letter will be dealt with by the federation and the outcomes of those engagements will be made known in due course.

"We saw the letter in the social media and everywhere else. The federation has not circulated any letter to the public, but what we can say is that we are looking at what you are raising as leadership and structures of the federation. But at the right time, we will respond," said Chavalala.

Upon being contacted telephonically, Vavi asked Fin24 to send him questions via text. He had not responded to these questions by the time of publication. This article will be updated as and when Vavi responds.

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