Cosatu's CEC dismisses Vavi

Cosatu’s Central Executive Committee meeting has voted to dismiss Secretary General Zwelinzima Vavi.

Congress of South African Trade Union's Zwelinzima Vavi during a press conference about his future in the trade union federation on 29 March 2015. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Eyewitness News understands that Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting has just voted to dismiss Secretary General Zwelinzima Vavi.

Vavi has been under intense pressure within Cosatu after the majority of unions voted to expel the National Union Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) last year.

At least 31 members of the CEC voted to dismiss him while only one member voted against that decision.

The meeting is still underway and there has been no official confirmation from any official.

However, the writing has been on the wall for Vavi for some time - on Sunday it seemed he was daring the CEC to take action against him.

Vavi said he would not attend the meeting and that if it was used as a pretext to fire him, then "so be it".

Many suggested it could be a turning point for the trade union federation and speed up what appeared to be a massive split.

Last year, Vavi was suspended for eight months after admitting to having sex with a junior Cosatu employee in 2013, but was reinstated following a court ruling.

Nine affiliate unions, including Numsa, supported Vavi during his suspension.

Vavi also announced that he would no longer attend Cosatu meetings, claiming that they were designed only to help one faction.

Vavi wanted everyone to know this was a deliberate decision.

"This is deliberately an act of defiance on my part, even if it ends just as symbolic."

He also knew what the consequences could be.

"If my refusal to attend the special CEC is used as a pretext to fire me, so be it."


Last year the metalworkers' union was expelled from Africa's largest trade union federation by a vote of 33 to 24 after months of infighting and a widening rift between the union and Cosatu bosses.

Numsa was Cosatu's largest affiliate with nearly 350,000 members and was also backed by eight other unions in the Cosatu CEC.

The metalworkers union, previously the biggest member of Cosatu which is seen as a powerful vote-winning machine which also makes significant financial contributions for elections, has regularly criticised President Jacob Zuma's administration.

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