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Dlamini: Good job playing the victim, Vavi

Matuma Letsoalo, Mmanaledi Mataboge

Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini says ousted general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi must address the auditor's findings against him.

Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini wants the union federation's suspended general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi to accept the findings against him by Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo forensic auditors, instead of crying foul about the process of the investigation.

Vavi has threatened to sue Cosatu and the auditing firm after the federation made public the damning findings last week. He claims he has been denied the opportunity to respond to the report, which found among other things that there were irregularities regarding the purchase of a new Cosatu building in Braamfontein for R50-million and the selling of the old one for R20-million in 2010.

The report says the purchase price of the new building was inflated. Vavi rejected Gobodo's findings.

Dlamini told the Mail & Guardian in an interview recently he was satisfied with the findings by the auditing firm. He challenged Vavi to prove Cosatu wrong if he had contradicting evidence.

"He [Vavi] has to answer those findings in the Gobodo report. So far, he has managed to paint a picture that he is a victim."

No special congress
Dlamini dismissed a call by the nine pro-Vavi Cosatu affiliates for a special congress aimed at reinstating Vavi and ousting the current top six officials of Cosatu, including himself and acting general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali.

Vavi was suspended from the federation after he admitted to having sex with a junior colleague at Cosatu headquarters in Braamfontein. He is also being investigated for alleged financial impropriety, which includes the sale and purchase of the building.

"It will be for the first time that Cosatu calls a special congress to deal with matters of disciplinary processes. I have yet to hear a member of Cosatu say don't pursue the charges against Vavi, because they know it's about their money that is misused."

Dlamini dismissed Vavi's claim that he was not given the forensic report on time. "Gobodo is obliged to give the report to Cosatu and implicated parties. They communicated with Vavi, wanting to give the report but he refused."

He asked: "Why is he telling the media and not Cosatu that his rights are violated?" Dlamini also said the forensic report had found that Vavi's daughter had been hired by VMS, a company contracted by Cosatu to provide fingerprint-recognition security at the new Cosatu House. Vavi has denied having a hand in securing his daughter's employment.

Confidential audit
Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo has meanwhile refused to respond directly to Vavi's accusations, saying its work was confidential.

In an emailed response to M&G questions, the company's communications manager Mankwe Sithole said: "Due to various confidentiality clauses in place with our clients, Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo cannot disclose any confidential client information into the public domain. As part of our professional due process, we provided the general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi with the opportunity to provide submissions to the investigating team.

"Observing the highest level of objectivity, the report was concluded and handed over to Cosatu as the client and thus we have no control over the dissemination of such a report. In all our engagement we uphold the highest professional standards and we have been consistent as far as Cosatu is concerned."

Meanwhile, the nine rebel unions in Cosatu are planning a mass march to Cosatu House in the near future to demand Vavi's immediate reinstatement. The nine unions also questioned Cosatu's motive for making public the findings of the forensic report.

"The way in which the most recent forensic report was presented by the current leadership faction was manipulative and sought to give the impression that all of the misgivings that had taken place were the responsibility of the general secretary," said the nine unions in a statement.

"In fact a reading of the report in full, when it is properly released, will reveal that other national office bearers of Cosatu were responsible for the administration and management of the organisation. Are they not to be held to account?"

Family matter
The rebel unions condemned what they see as attacks on Vavi's family.

"The attacks on the family members of Comrade Zwelinzima have been shown to be at best minor infringements, and at worst deliberate attempts to find anything on which to hang a charge on him," the nine unions said.

"The fact that the findings of the report were given to the special CEC [central executive committee] and not to Comrade Zwelinzima is yet another example of where due process has been chronically undermined.

"It is unlawful for any forensic auditing firm to refuse the persons they have adverse findings against a constitutionally guaranteed right to be heard. It is completely unethical and runs counter to professional standards to present a final report that contains negative findings against anyone without offering the affected persons a right to engage and/or dispute those findings. If this happens, it is not an audit but a witch hunt and a denial of justice."

The row around Vavi's suspension is said to be causing more ruptures within Cosatu than the federation cares to admit.

Heckling
The booing of Dlamini at an ANC rally in the Eastern Cape on Sunday was just one of the ways disgruntled Cosatu members demonstrated their unhappiness.

Dlamini, in an interview with the New Age newspaper, said the heckling had been carried out by a "small group" of South African Democratic Teachers Union members who are unhappy with the suspensions of Vavi and union leader Thobile Ntola.

Ntola's suspension is also linked to Vavi's case as he is accused of speaking to the media on Vavi's suspension and for affording him a platform to address a meeting of Sadtu in the Eastern Cape last year.

Yet not all pro-Dlamini unions are united. Four out of seven regions of the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union have called for Vavi's reinstatement, despite their union leadership siding with the Dlamini camp.

The pro-Dlamini Cosatu leadership has also begun to suspect some of its provincial secretaries of working with the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, seen as a leader of the pro-Vavi unions.


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