Suspended Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi says federation leaders must maintain their independence from the ANC's NEC to avoid confusion.
Cosatu must remain an independent organisation whose leaders should not serve on the national executive committee (NEC) of the ANC, said Zwelinzima Vavi on Tuesday.
"That is why I have been refusing to stand at previous [ANC] conferences, when I was asked to stand, from Stellenbosch, to Polokwane, and to Mangaung," the trade union federation's suspended general secretary said.
"That is why I refused to stand in the [South African Communist Party's] central committee for the same reasons."
Vavi was speaking at the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa's (Numsa) political school in Benoni, called the Mbuyiselo Ngwenda Brigade. Ngwenda was Numsa's former general secretary.
Vavi said he was speaking as a friend and neighbour of the late Ngwenda.
He said that, during the first years of democracy, Ngwenda fought against letting national office bearers in Cosatu serve on the ANC's NEC.
He said he initially disagreed with Ngwenda, but later changed his mind.
"[This is] not because I am a counter revolutionary, or oppositionist, as everyone is saying, but because I felt that you have to at least spare the office of the general secretary or president," he said.
"Those two should continue to speak only wearing the face and hat of the mandate they have received from the union."
Cosatu president Sidumo Dlamini was voted in as an NEC member at the ANC's last conference in Mangaung.
Vavi said not standing for an NEC position was not a new decision for him.
"It is about a principle guaranteeing the independence of the trade movement; it is also about eliminating any confusion," he said.
Referring to his detractors, Vavi said that, because he does not want to be part of the NEC, they think he "has ambitions to be the leader of his own political party… or maybe [wants to be] in [Mamphela Ramphele's party] Agang… and he is in the Americans' pocket. That is the politics of today."
A Cosatu central executive committee meeting is being held this week, at which Vavi's fate in the federation will reportedly be finalised.
On Friday, Vavi said he was joining Numsa's court bid to have the last central executive meeting, which decided on his suspension, declared "unconstitutional".
He also wanted final relief to review and set aside the decision to suspend him and institute disciplinary proceedings.
Last month, Cosatu announced that Vavi had been put on special leave pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing relating to an affair he had with a junior employee.
In July, the employee accused him of rape. He said he had an affair with her. The woman subsequently withdrew a sexual harassment complaint against him. – Sapa