Saftu enters second day of conference to elect new leadership

Tensions between general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and the trade union federation’s largest affiliate Numsa dominated the day.

Zwelinzima Vavi Image: Bertram Malgas/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - After a day of squabbles, the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) enters its second day of the conference to elect new leadership.

Tensions between general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and the trade union federation’s largest affiliate National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) dominated the day.

Vavi, who received a letter of intention to suspend him in March, has been fighting to stay in his position. This was subsequently followed by the suspension of four office-bearers.

Numsa has been demanding that the status of the four be dealt with before the business of the conference gets underway.

Saftu’s elective conference, with its tensions, is already emulating some political conferences where there’s an ultimate victor which could lead to even more divisions in the organisation.

In a report to the conference seen by Eyewitness News, Saftu makes its own assessment of the state of the organisation.

It admits this gathering is happening at the federation’s lowest point in its five years of existence.

Saftu also lists five challenges that have paralysed it. These include: endless bickering by office bearers, unresolved political and ideological differences being swept under the carpet but hovering over the federation – lack of resources – the threat of business unionism and the weakening of revolutionary morality.

Saftu said there’s an urgent task to capacitate the federation.

But with Vavi’s career on the line, these issues might once again take a backseat on Tuesday.

The conference is set to continue until Thursday.