Vavi aims to restore Cosatu unity

Today was Zwelinzima Vavi's first day back at Cosatu House following an 8-month suspension.

Zwelinzima Vavi. Picture: Rahima Essop/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Reinstated Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi says his first order of business is to restore unity to the struggling and divided federation.

Today was his first day back at Cosatu House following an eight-month suspension for having an affair with a junior employee.

On Friday, the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg found that Vavi's suspension was unlawful and invalid.

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

But Vavi says it's now time to move on from his suspension, non-union related issues and political shenanigans.

"I am acutely aware of my responsibility to build the unity of the federation and to reach out to those who have declared themselves to be my haters at a public level."

Cosatu is expected to hold a special Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting tomorrow amid speculation it may decide to suspend or expel the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa).

Meanwhile, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) says it's time for Cosatu to expel both Vavi and Numsa from the federation.

Nehawu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla says Cosatu has been insulted for too long.

"Cosatu needs to act against Numsa and against the general secretary of the federation and move on. We have for far too long tried to preserve the unity of the federation."

Earlier, Vavi was greeted by scores of supporters upon his return to Cosatu House, who chanted and sang, "Viva Vavi, viva!"

The reinstated general secretary, wearing a black suit and red shirt, told the crowd he was excited to be back at work after the longest period of leave he has ever taken.

He also said he was unsure if he should go home and be with his daughter, who was seriously injured in a taxi accident in the Eastern Cape at the weekend, or if he should stay and attend Tuesday's CEC meeting.