Vavi 'a victim of class conflict'
- Vavi: I know who is out to get me
- Why Zwelinzima Vavi is under attack
- Vavi denies Cosatu investigation into financial impropriety
- Vavi in hot water for alleged financial impropriety
Irvin Jim, the general secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), has opposed suggestions that Zwelinzima Vavi, the general secretary of trade union federation Cosatu, be placed on special leave pending an investigation into allegations of financial impropriety. Matuma Letsoalo spoke to him
Numsa is said to have threatened to disaffiliate from Cosatu during last week's central executive committee (CEC) meeting if Vavi was put on special leave.
I refute claims that Numsa made threats to disaffiliate from Cosatu. Besides, I am not at liberty to divulge what was discussed during the CEC. What we condemn is claims that we called some leaders of Cosatu reactionaries.
What we are against is people who leak confidential discussions and turn the truth into a lie. Such a tendency is dangerous and seeks to render the federation useless. It has the potential to weaken Cosatu against capitalists and the state that supports the ruling class.
It appears that those who support Vavi, including Numsa, do not want the allegations in the public domain. Are you hiding something?
We have constitutional structures and they are at liberty to raise issues that affect them. The problem is when people start leaking those discussions to the media.
Why is Vavi being targeted?
It is not difficult to know why Vavi is being attacked. Cosatu has a duty to implement resolutions which are in the interest of workers. The contradiction is between two classes, the working class and the capitalists. The state supports the ruling class and Vavi represents the working class.
But some of your leaders are deployed in the state.
The state is not monolithic. It can be engaged. There is nothing wrong with some of our leaders being there.
It looks like Cosatu has lost the battle with regard to e-tolls, the youth-wage subsidy, labour brokers and the national development plan?
It is problematic that instead of intervening on behalf of the working class, the ANC government is siding with capitalists. Why would the ANC have difficulty banning labour brokers?
The adoption of the national development plan is undermining the Freedom Charter. It [the ANC] takes decisions as if we are not here. The working class needs to mobilise and take to the streets. But to do that is going to require unity. We have a duty to champion the Freedom Charter. We must control the minerals. We must make sure that anybody who leads does it in the interest of workers.
One of the accusations against Vavi is that he publicly called for a probe into the upgrade of President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla home. Was that called for?
I do not want to comment about that, but what I do know is that there is no statement of Cosatu that is not approved by the top six officials.
Some of the allegations levelled against Vavi are very serious. Among other things, it is alleged that he contracted a company which employs his stepdaughter and that he sold the old Cosatu building for R10-million less than the actual value to a company linked to his wife.
We got this through sources. I am not going to be involved in allegations.
Do your Cosatu comrades believe Vavi is working with opposition parties and rival unions to weaken the ANC, and that he should be booted out?
That is hogwash. Those people are wrong. Cosatu has a duty to champion the interests of workers. If articulating worker issues is seen as oppositional, then there is a problem.
The ANC has also raised concerns about Vavi.
I cannot be responsible for the ANC, but Cosatu cannot whisper the interests of workers. How do you mobilise the working class while whispering? People must acknowledge that alliance partners are independent from each other. They are brought together by the Freedom Charter. Cosatu cannot be a conveyor belt for the ANC. I do not have a problem with the ANC raising issues, but what do you expect Cosatu to do when the ANC takes unilateral decisions?
How is Numsa planning to defend Vavi in the future?
We have no mission to defend an individual. We have a responsibility to ensure that Cosatu is united. The federation must be kept as a shield for workers.