Vavi calls for unity on first day back at Cosatu

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. (Gallo)

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. (Gallo)

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi called for unity within the trade union federation ahead of his first day back at the office on Monday morning.

In an interview on SAfm, he said he heard in statements at the weekend by leaders of the National Union of Mineworkers and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union that he would be suspended again this week.

"All I want to say ... this suspension and the status quo decided by the [Cosatu] congress, gives any union, including every leader, an opportunity to start afresh, to prioritise the interests of their members, to ensure Cosatu can be united again ... to address unemployment ...
and inequalities," said Vavi.

"If congress wants to throw away all those issues ... it is a choice that comrades would have to make."

Vavi told the radio station it was time to move on and focus on union-related matters.

"I apologised a million times to every member of the federation," he said. "I committed an error, I accepted responsibility."

Vavi said he would return to work after finishing the interview with SAfm.

Affiliates supporting Vavi
The high court in Johannesburg set aside his suspension from Cosatu on Friday.

He was put on special leave in August last year, pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing relating to his affair with a junior employee.

Following Vavi's suspension, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) lodged an application in the high court in Johannesburg challenging the decision.

Cosatu has been split between affiliates supporting Vavi and those supporting his suspension.

However, it emerged at a Numsa shopstewards' council at the Coastlands Hotel in Durban on Sunday that Vavi could face a renewed suspension.

"On Tuesday they will say let us continue with the disciplinary charges against Zwelinzima Vavi," Numsa deputy president Karl Cloete said at the council.

Cloete said that the current office bearers of Cosatu should be held accountable for wasting workers' money on hiring expensive lawyers to fight Vavi's reinstatement. – Sapa

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