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Vavi to challenge suspension

Zwelinzima Vavi says Cosatu's president has mounted a smear campaign against him.

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

BRAAMFONTEIN - Congress of South African Trade Union (Cosatu) General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has instructed his lawyers to challenge his suspension.

Vavi was put on special leave by the federation's Central Executive Committee on Wednesday after admitting to having sex with a junior employee at their headquarters.

Speaking at a media briefing in Johannesburg on Friday afternoon, Vavi said his suspension is the culmination of a year-long political campaign to remove him from the federation.

Vavi says there is a campaign against him, led by Cosatu President Sdumo Dlamini, saying it's aimed at paralysing Cosatu.

"The president of Cosatu prejudiced himself because he circulated the so-called intelligence report whose intention is to smear and destroy my person."

He also argued that the federation has no policies against relationships in the workplace, proving his suspension is purely political.

He pointed out that no criminal charges have been opened against him.

The suspension, he says, is a "great injustice" and will be proved unfair.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) earlier on Friday echoed the argument that the decision to suspend Vavi is part of a wider political conspiracy.

The unions fears their General Secretary, Irvin Jim, is the next target.

Jim says Vavi was suspended against a backdrop of a wider political agenda.

He says there are efforts by forces within Cosatu itself to reduce it to a toothless organisation.

He slammed leaders within Cosatu, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the ANC for trying to divide the federation.

Jim says certain affiliated union leaders were kept in the dark about the meeting in which Vavi was suspended, while others knew exactly why the gathering was called.

Numsa is worried about the current leadership of the union under Dlamini.

Numsa members want Vavi back in his position and Jim says they will work hard to achieve this.

He says members are up in arms and might have to call a special congress to redefine how to align itself.