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'Cosatu will defend its independence'

Zwelinzima Vavi says Cosatu will continue to criticise the ruling party if there is a need to do so.

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi holds a news conference in Johannesburg on Thursday, 31 May 2012 following the union federation's central executive committee meeting.Picture: SAPA

JOHANNESBURG - Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi on Friday said the trade union federation would fight for its independence and would not be used as a conveyor belt for the ANC.

Vavi's comments come in the wake of President Jacob Zuma's call for members of the tripartite alliance to be disciplined and accept decisions made by the ANC.

The general secretary made the comments while speaking to National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) members in Johannesburg as the union marked its 26th birthday.

Vavi said the trade union federation was not prepared to give up its independence for anyone.

"We will fight for it jealously and die if we have to die, precisely because we don't want to be a conveyor belt for anyone."

He also called on the ANC and the South African Communist Party (SACP) to provide it with room to criticise.

"We want the ANC and the SACP to give us space to talk nonsense."

However, Vavi warned that leaders in the tripartite alliance, who give labels to unions affiliated with Cosatu, should not expect the federation to keep quiet.

Meanwhile, Vavi has been under immense pressure from his organsation recently.

He is being investigated for selling the old Cosatu House building in Braamfontein for R10 million, far less than its market value.

Vavi is also accused of awarding a tender to a company that employs his daughter.

He denies any wrongdoing.