Vavi: Don't mourn - organise!

Cosatu's Secretary General was dismissed from his post by the trade union federation’s CEC last night.

Axed Cosatu Secretary General Zwelinzima Vavi. Picture AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Ousted Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) Secretary General Zwelinzima Vavi has told his supporters not to mourn, but to organise.

Last night the trade union federation's Central Executive Committee (CEC) voted overwhelmingly to dismiss him from his post after Vavi said on Sunday he would not attend the meeting in an act of deliberate defiance.

Vavi simply tweeted, 'Don't mourn, organise' last night before tweeting a Martin Luther King quote.

Don't mourn - Organise!

He must have been expecting this decision and he would have known that with his supporters outside this meeting, the numbers would always be overwhelmingly against him.

But this must also be an emotional moment.

Vavi has been a part of Cosatu for almost all of its existence.

At the same time, this decision by the trade union federation's CEC sets the stage for other political changes and could give plans for a new political movement some serious momentum.


Former Cosatu secretary general Mbhazima Shilowa says last night's decision is going to change labour relations permanently.

"That the possibility of a new federation being spawned out, an independent one as well, that blooms even larger than it has been under the previous days of Cosatu."

While political analyst Nick Boraine says this is about the politics of the alliance.

"Vavi represents the heart of Cosatu and what is left of Cosatu is, in many ways, what the ANC wanted - a labour desk."

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa)'s deputy general secretary, Karl Cloete, who has always supported Vavi, says this has its roots in the decision to allow all of Cosatu's office bearers to run uncontested in the trade union federation's 2012 congress.

"What we regret today, which we must admit, is that we should have gone to a vote on determining the election of national bearers of Cosatu."

Yesterday, African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General Gwede Mantashe said that for Cosatu to dismiss Vavi would be the easiest thing, what happens next would be the most complex.