‘Vavi spared the chop to avoid Cosatu mass walkout’

Numsa’s Irvin Jim says he believes Zwelinzima Vavi is being spared the chop by Cosatu leaders.

FILE: It was widely expected that Vavi would leave Cosatu with Numsa after its expulsion. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Metalworkers South Africa (Numsa) says it suspects the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) leaders are trying to use it's general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi to prevent seven of its allies from abandoning the federation.

It was widely expected that Vavi would leave Cosatu with Numsa after its expulsion but at its last meeting, disciplinary charges against him were not reinstated.

Numsa was voted out of Cosatu by 33 votes to 24 in a decision that exposed rifts between rival affiliates.

Seven unions have presented a united front against Cosatu's current leadership and Numsa's expulsion.

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim says he believes Vavi is being spared the chop by rival factions in Cosatu because of the risk of a mass walkout.

"We think the strategy is basically to use him to bring back the unions that are here so that Numsa must continue to be isolated."

But Jim says he believes Vavi remains committed to Numsa as well as the other unions calling for special national congress.

"If there's one thing that we remain very happy about, which boosted workers morale and everybody else, was the fact that Vavi issued a letter that distanced himself from the expulsion."

Last week Vavi tried to justify the ANC intervention process that would involve all the unions, but it's unclear how the general secretary will react after the latest announcements.

He also dodged another disciplinary process after the federation's Central Executive Committee (CEC) decided to pursue political mediation.

The seven unions supporting Numsa say they won't take part in any talks to bring about unity within the Cosatu, unless the metalworkers' union is reinstated.