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Vavi to consult with allies over Cosatu's claims

Zwelinzima Vavi says he's not going to respond to all the claims levelled against him by the federation’s CEC.

FILE: Cosatu leadership at Press conference at Cosatu House in Johannesburg on 11 November 2014. Picture: Reinart Toerein/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Congress of South African Trade Union (Cosatu) General-Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi says he's not going to respond to all the claims levelled against him by the federation's Central Executive Committee (CEC), until he has consults with his allies.

On Thursday, the CEC said Cosatu's current financial problems were due to Vavi's mismanagement of the sale of the federation's old headquarters.

Vavi refused to attend the meeting after at least five unions boycotted it in protest of the expulsion of National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa).

Vavi says the reason he's not going to meet with the auditors that Cosatu CEC says have made findings against him, is that those same auditors that gave the federation their report without hearing his side of the story.

As a result, he says the process they have followed must be flawed because they presented the report as final when it has to be a draft report.

He knows that the CEC without Numsa and its allies is likely to be a hostile environment for him, but his opponent appear to be playing a long game. As things stand, they may want to avoid turning him into a political martyr.

Vavi claimed the forensic reports were part of an agenda to oust him but Cosatu leadership said this was simply not true.

On Monday, Vavi tweeted that he wouldn't attend this week's meeting saying it was wrong to continue with it without seven unions which are demanding the reinstatement of Numsa which was expelled last year.

Cosatu President Sdumo Dlamini said Cosatu's problems did not arise after Numsa was expelled and that the forensic report needed to be attended to and could not be viewed as a witchhunt against Vavi.

"We have been in the same situation for a long time, the final analysis will tell you we find ourselves in this situation because of wrong decisions taken before. It's not a case of, they started here and couldn't find a thing, they have moved to this one because they could not find something, now they are here because they are persecuting me, it's not that. It's not a witch-hunt."

The auditors do not have the power to subpoena witnesses and Cosatu claimed that Vavi had constantly dodged answering questions about his involvement in the sale.

At the same time, Cosatu's national leadership has lashed out at unions that boycotted this week's CEC meeting and has appealed to the affiliate's members to ask their leaders to return to the federation.

Vavi's deputy, Bheki Ntshalintshali said the unions should return to Cosatu's meetings to continue unity talks.

"We call of these affiliates to return to future meetings to engage in a democratic process where all unions are treated as equals and where all views are given equal weight and get subjected to the same democratic scrutiny."

He said Vavi had also been called to appear before a special CEC to explain his absence from the meeting.

"The meeting expressed deep concern against the general secretary of the federation that continues to conduct himself in such a manner that seeks to define himself as above the organisation or to act outside the discipline of the collective leadership."

Numsa was voted out of the trade union federation in 2014 by 33 votes to 24 and the decision has since exposed the rift between rival affiliates.

The expulsion had been on the cards for months after the union said it would not campaign for the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in the May general elections and accused Zuma's government of promoting business instead of workers' interests.

The seven other unions who back Numsa are the Public and Allied Workers' Union of South Africa; the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa; Food and Allied Workers' Union; the South African State and Allied Workers' Union; the Communication Workers' Union; the South African Football Players' Union and the South African Commercial, Catering, and Allied Workers' Union.