Johannesburg – Pressure is mounting on Cosatu to act decisively against its embattled general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, who has been addressing rebel union meetings over the past few days.
Eight provinces of the SA Democratic Teachers Union have accused Vavi of being on a “vicious campaign” to divide Cosatu and the union.
“As Sadtu, we will defend our union and expose Vavi for what he is – a self-centred individual on a charm offensive to profile himself as a victim of an alleged purge and seek pity from our members,” the union said on Thursday.
Sadtu in the Eastern Cape is aligned with a group of unions in Cosatu who support Vavi and the reinstatement of metalworkers union Numsa.
On Wednesday, Vavi ad-dressed what Sadtu said was an illegitimate union meeting in Port Elizabeth. It was also attended by expelled Sadtu president Thobile Ntola, who is forming a public sector union, and former Eastern Cape provincial secretary Mncekeleli Ndongeni.
“We will fight tooth and nail to ensure our noble name of Sadtu is not tarnished by these renegades to propagate their agendas. Let them create their own platforms and audiences. They have accorded themselves a monopoly of knowledge and insight, superior intellect and opinion more than the organisations. Their attitude and arrogance pose a serious threat to Sadtu and the federation,” Sadtu’s eight provincial secretaries said.
Vavi has to decide whether he will face a Cosatu central executive committee (CEC) meeting at the end of the month, where he could be suspended again. He boycotted the last CEC meeting because it wasn’t attended by five of Cosatu’s 17 affiliates and the general secretary of another.
The federation is in turmoil over many issues, and tension has increased with the chance of Vavi facing more financial maladministration charges, which he believes are part of a witch-hunt against him.
The special CEC meeting, which will discuss a forensic report into Vavi, is also likely to take issue with him for attending a Durban meeting of unions that want Numsa reinstated.
Earlier this week, Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini, who has the support of affiliates opposed to Vavi, said he was surprised that the general secretary had attended the Durban meeting because Vavi had told him he wasn’t going.
Nelson Mandela Bay metro, which includes Port Elizabeth, is fast becoming the main base of a group of people and organisations that support Numsa’s United Front, which has been formed to fight struggles in communities and workplaces. It is likely that the front will be a catalyst for a workers’ party.
Even the ANC has realised it needs to pay attention to the area, after winning less than 50 percent of the vote in the last national election.
Sadtu’s provincial leaders said Vavi and some of its Eastern Cape leaders had been instrumental in attempts to vilify the union.
“Vavi has not shown even the slightest speck of accountability. We are calling on the national office of Sadtu to urgently take this matter up with the federation,” they said.