'CWU's vote for Vavi congress counts'

The CWU has confirmed it has legal standing to call for a special Cosatu congress.

Suspended Cosatu general-secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - The Communication Workers Union (CWU) says it does have legal standing to join calls to hold a special Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) congress to decide on suspended General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi's fate.

Vavi was suspended last month after admitting to having an affair with a junior employee.

He was also accused of hiring the woman through improper procedures.

The CWU confirmed on Friday it will be joining five other unions who believe a special congress must decide whether Vavi should be ousted from his position.

Cosatu's constitution says such a conference can go ahead if seven unions call for it.

Immediately after the CWU confirmed it's joining calls for a special congress to be held, Vavi's opponents suggested it had fallen behind on its payments to Cosatu and thus wasn't legally in good standing.

The union's Aubrey Tshabalala says it has fixed that problem.

"At this moment we are in good standing and have confirmed this with our financial department."

But Tshabalala admitted the union had fallen out of good standing last month.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, the Food and Allied Workers Union, the SA Football Players Union and the SA Municipal Workers' Union have all publically confirmed they want the special congress.

The Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA is understood to back them, but won't say so in public.

It is thought that if Vavi is able to make this congress happen, he would win a vote of ordinary Cosatu members while Cosatu President Sdumo Dlamini may actually lose his post.

Vavi is thought to be more popular with rank and file members than he is with union leaders, which means he could survive any vote in that gathering.

Meanwhile, Numsa's legal challenge to Vavi's suspension will be heard in court tomorrow.