Vavi to face friends and foes

Cosatu will hold a Central Executive Committee meeting today to discuss Vavi's future.

FILE: Cosatu General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. Picture: Werner Beukes/Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - Cosatu General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi will come face-to-face with his political opponents today during a special sitting of the federation's Central Executive Committee.

The meeting has been called to decide whether action should be taken against Vavi for having sex with a younger Cosatu employee.

Vavi and his allies have claimed his opponents are using this incident to oust him from his post.

Over the last few days, the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) have thrown their support behind Vavi and expressed concern that Cosatu could split if the dispute is not handled properly.

Now, the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) general secretary Walter Theledi has also lined up behind Vavi.

"We do not see any reason for this meeting. But if the national office bearers feel that it should go on, we will be part of it."

Fawu General Secretary Katishi Masemola said while this issue could split Cosatu, he said it's not just about Vavi.

"It's about the voice that the office of the General Secretary of Cosatu is all about."

Numsa said on Monday that those who want to take action against Vavi for having sex with a younger Cosatu employee are politically motivated.

Numsa said the federation has become a lame duck because of the scandal and can't achieve anything for workers.

The union's Deputy General Secretary Karl Cloete said this issue has the potential to completely divide Cosatu.

"Unless we handle things maturely, comradely and properly, there is indeed all the possibility of a split in Cosatu."

Meanwhile, it appears the National Union of Mineworkers, the South African Democratic Teachers Union and the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union are against Vavi.

This means he could lose if this issue goes to a vote.

On Monday, Cosatu President Sdumo Dlamini denied that Vavi's future would be discussed in the meeting and said claims that suggested this would be the case were 'misleading'.

"We need to be allowed some space internally to deal with the issues. Unfortunately, no one wants to give us the space to do that. But we are having our meeting of special safety on Wednesday."


Cosatu has been in the spotlight since Vavi recently admitted to having an affair with a married junior employee in January.

Vavi is reportedly facing three charges, which include having a sexual encounter at Cosatu's headquarters with his junior, irregularly appointing the woman and bringing the organisation into disrepute.

The 26-year-old employee levelled allegations of rape against Vavi, but later withdrew the charge at a formal hearing into the matter last month.

She initially claimed Vavi, who is married, forced himself onto her in January. However, the General Secretary maintains they had consensual sex.

A string of cellphone text messages between the two shows the fallout after they had sex.

Vavi believes the woman forms part of a political plot to oust him.

He has since apologised to the nation for having an affair.