Embattled Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has hit back at the federation's leaders by alleging they circulated a report to discredit him.
Addressing a media briefing in Johannesburg a day after his suspension, Vavi accused Cosatu president Sidumo Dlamini of circulating the report among the federation’s leaders in an attempt to assassinate his character and discredit him.
The report, whose authenticity could not be verified, alleges that Vavi was working with American nongovernmental organisations to topple the ANC-led government. It also claims Vavi is responsible for xenophobic attacks on foreigners, violent service delivery protests and the protest in Marikana, which led to the killing of more than 40 workers in August last year.
The report further claims that Vavi was intending to form a political party and was involved with the formation of Agang South Africa along with academic and activist Mamphela Ramphele.
Among senior ANC leaders mentioned in the report are ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa and former human settlements minister Tokyo Sexwale. It also mentions Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, University of the Free State vice-chancellor Jonathan Jansen, political analyst Moeletsi Mbeki and Mail & Guardian proprietor Trevor Ncube.
The report contains information similar to statements used in recent months by alliance leaders, including ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, the South African Transport and Allied Workers' Union general secretary Zenzo Mahlangu and Newhawu boss Fikile Majola to attack the opposition, Vavi, and his supporters.
Vavi said through his lawyers that Dlamini had been distributing the so-called intelligence report to Cosatu leaders, who were to attend the special central executive committee meeting on Wednesday.
Vavi told a media briefing on Friday that he decided to challenge his suspension because Dlamini and other leaders who pushed for his removal were prejudiced.
“The president of Cosatu prejudiced himself because he circulated the so-called intelligence report whose intention is to smear and destroy my person," said Vavi.
"The president of Cosatu chaired the meeting even though he publicly found me guilty of bringing the federation in disrepute.”
Vavi said Dlamini should be censured by Cosatu for distributing the report at the special Central Executive Committer meeting. He added that his lawyers would write to State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele to investigate whether the report was done by the state.
"We will also write a letter to the inspector general who is the intelligence ombud to ask him to investigate if state institutions have not been abused to divide workers' organisations and smear individuals," said Vavi.
"I have no doubt in my mind that this report has been widely circulated among certain leaders in the organisation, and has changed their perspectives about me. Individuals who only yesterday would have laid down their lives in my defence and the defence of the organisation have changed in the recent past and today are my worst enemies. Throughout my life I formed part of the collective that fought against the abuse of state institutions for narrow factional activities in our organisations."
"The public will recall that Cosatu, our icon and father Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and others took a strong stance against misinformation that Cyril Ramaphosa, Tokyo Sexwale and Matthews Phosa were plotting to stage a coup d’etat."
"We took the same stance when some in the intelligence community produced a browse mole report, the aim of which was to smear the current president of the ANC, comrade Jacob Zuma, whilst he was still deputy president."
"Today, a report which has all the hallmarks of rogue elements in the intelligence community who are in the employ of factionalists within our organisations produced a complete and a total fabrication by, among other things, constructing transcripts of telephone discussions and meetings that never took place with the purpose of smearing me and getting me removed as the general secretary. The federation of workers is today in total turmoil, divided and totally paralysed."
This week, Dlamini also came under fire with Cosatu's National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), accusing him of being a factionalist, reckless with the future of Cosatu and fuelling divisions within the federation.
Numsa, which is a staunch supporter and has been consistent with its defence of the embattled Cosatu boss, also claimed on Friday that there was a political conspiracy to discredit Vavi and liquidate Cosatu and reduce it to a labour desk.
"We have consistently maintained that there is a concerted effort by forces within and outside Cosatu to turn it from being a fighting federation into a toothless organisation. This campaign has been ongoing even before the 11th congress of Cosatu in Johannesburg. A campaign to remove Vavi as the general secretary of Cosatu failed at the 11th congress. However, the forces that are driving this campaign continue to render the federation ineffective,” said Numsa's general secretary Irvin Jim.