Numsa pledges allegiance to Vavi

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. (Gallo)

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. (Gallo)

National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) president Andrew Chirwa vowed on Wednesday the union would defend suspended Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, saying he was "isolated by forces of darkness" within the tripartite alliance.

Vavi was suspended in August after he admitted to having sex with a junior employee at Cosatu offices. 

He is also being investigated for alleged financial impropriety relating to the sale of the old Cosatu building and the purchase of the new one.

On Wednesday, Vavi received a warm welcome on the second day of Numsa's special conference at the Birchwood conference centre in Johannesburg, attended by more than 1 200 delegates from across the country. Despite being invited, the ANC, the South African Communist Party and Cosatu national office bearers, including its president Sdumo Dlamini, failed to show up at the special congress. Cosatu said in a statement on Tuesday it was not invited to speak at the special congress.

Chirwa, who was elected president of the union on Tuesday, after the resignation of Cedric Gina, told delegates Numsa would do everything in its power to defend Vavi.

"We shall defend comrade Vavi who has been targeted by the dark forces [within the alliance].
Comrade Vavi to us you are not suspended and we welcome you at our special congress," said Chirwa to rapturous applause. He said Vavi was isolated because he was working to liberate workers in the country.

Treated like it had leprosy
"Some people have worked hard to ensure that Cosatu is destroyed. In fighting for Cosatu, we will fight for Vavi. We will fight for a radical Cosatu, which is anti-imperialist," said Chirwa. He said because of its support for Vavi, Numsa was now treated like it had leprosy by alliance leaders.

Earlier, Numsa national treasurer Mphumzi Maqungo said Numsa and other Cosatu affiliates would demand that Dlamini convene Cosatu special congress in the first quarter of next year.

Chirwa on Tuesday accused Dlamini for acting above the Cosatu constitution after he failed to convene the special Cosatu congress as requested by nine Cosatu affiliates.

Vavi is expected to address Numsa at the Mtutuzeli Tom Memorial Lecture, named after the late Numsa president, on Wednesday night.

Matuma Letsoalo

Matuma Letsoalo

Matuma Letsoalo is the political editor of the Mail & Guardian. He joined the newspaper in 2003 and has won numerous awards since then, including the regional award for Vodacom Journalist of the Year in the economics and finance category in 2015, SA Journalist of the Year in 2011, the Mondi Shanduka SA Story of the Year award in 2008 and CNN African Journalist of the Year – MKO Abiola Print Journalism in 2004. Read more from Matuma Letsoalo

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