Vavi: Suspension a 'waste of time'

The Cosatu general secretary returned to work for the first time since his suspension was set aside.

Reinstated Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi on Monday described his suspension as a complete waste of eight months.

He says he could've spent that time helping the working class.

The general secretary on Monday returned to work for the first time after the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Friday ruled his suspension was invalid and unlawful.

Vavi was placed on special leave in August after admitting to a having an affair with a junior employee.

The trade union federation has since been split between those for and those against his suspension.

Scores of supporters gathered outside Cosatu House in Johannesburg to greet him, chanting, "Viva Vavi, viva!"

Vavi said a great deal of time has been lost due to infighting.

"It has been a long eight months of wasted time."

He described Friday's high court ruling as a triumph and said he's excited about his reinstatement.

At the same time, Vavi said he is in constant contact with doctors caring for his daughter who is in hospital in the Eastern Cape after she was seriously injured in a taxi accident at the weekend.

He says he will focus on unifying the federation and says he has no interest in working with those who condone corruption.

Vavi said it is now time to move forward and do what is best for the country's workers.

"Unity, comrades, doesn't mean unity at all costs. There can be no unity with people who condone corruption or who undermine the decisions of our federation to fight for workers' rights."

Cosatu is expected to hold a special Central Executive Committee meeting on Tuesday amid speculation that Vavi could be placed back on suspension.

The meeting could also see Cosatu suspend or expel its largest affiliate, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa).