Vavi: I won't stop working

Zwelinzima Vavi has expressed concern about the divisions within the trade union federation.

Suspended Cosatu General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - Suspended Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi says he's not going to stop his work for the trade union federation just because he's on special leave.

He was speaking at the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa)'s political school in Benoni on Tuesday.

Vavi was removed from his post in August after admitting to having sex with a younger Cosatu employee who had initially accused him of rape.

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

But despite being on special leave, Vavi spoke his mind saying he is worried about the divisions within the trade union federation and said Cosatu needs to be reunited and keep true to its ideals.

"Cosatu unfortunately has been paralysed by divisions and is unable to take these demands forward. Whoever thought about this strategy of dividing the organisation is a very clever fellow who we must take our hats off too."

He became somewhat emotional, saying it could bring him to tears thinking about all the work that's been stopped because of divisions in Cosatu.

Vavi said his detractors won't stop him, saying he remains a class-conscious cadre and that the federation should not lose sight of what it needs to do.

Meanwhile, it emerged on Tuesday that ANC Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will lead a task team to engage with Cosatu to help it find a lasting solution to its divisions.

The task team has been asked to speak to Cosatu leaders and to offer whatever help they can.

The ANC's Jackson Mthembu said they have to act because of Cosatu's contribution to democracy in South Africa.

"We cannot, as the ANC, just fold our hands as Cosatu is faced with difficulties of whatever nature. What will our kids say if we were to be spectators and we just look and fold our hands as Cosatu implodes and splits?"

Normally, alliance members wouldn't intervene.

This might show the extent to which the ANC believes Cosatu is running the risk of damaging itself beyond repair.