'Vavi's dismissal will muzzle the voice of the worker'

Last night, Cosatu's Central Executive Committee (CEC) voted 31 votes to one to fire Vavi.

Former Cosatu General-Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - As ousted Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) Secretary General Zwelinzima Vavi tells his supporters not to mourn but to mobilise, several unions are claiming his dismissal is proof the voice of the worker in the trade union federation has been muzzled.

Last night, Cosatu's Central Executive Committee (CEC) voted 31 votes to one, to fire Vavi.

He said on Sunday that he would not attend the CEC meeting in an act of deliberate defiance.

National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) General Secretary Irvin Jim, who has always supported Vavi, says this shows one group has taken over the trade union federation.

"There is a particular grouping within the federation that has become very powerful, that does not respect the worker control."

While the South African Football Players Union's Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe says this is about politics and the African National Congress (ANC).

"The issue of the federation being coopted into the ANC, we don't have a voice of the workers, it's been a weakened voice."

At the same time, Former Cosatu secretary general Mbhazima Shilowa says this will lead to two union federations in the longer term.

Cosatu is going to become a predominantly public sector federation, whereas the new one is likely to become a much more industrial union and therefore you're going to have much more militancy on the shop floor."

Vavi himself is not commenting this morning but tweeted last night that his supporters mustn't mourn, but organise.

Don't mourn - Organise!