Cosatu’s Vavi calls for unity, Numsa’s reinstatement

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi on Friday said the best way forward for the embattled congress was to remain unified – but not at any cost.

“The first prize then has got to be maintaining the unity of Cosatu,” said Vavi in a speech prepared for delivery at an anniversary event for the South African Labour Bulletin in central Johannesburg.

However, he cautioned: “Unity … is not something that must be at any cost. If we are wedded to unity for its own sake we will run the risk of sliding rapidly into a state of yellow unionism.”

Yellow unions are those usually considered more closely aligned with specific companies – and even governments. They are often criticised for allowing the company’s interest to dominate those of the employees – thus compromising independence.

Vavi said that if this occurred, it would cause the congress to be less accountable to workers and “tamer” in its economic and political demands.”

“We will become a shadow of our former selves.”

‘Bigger and broader Cosatu’
He said there was currently a “small window of opportunity” to return to a “united militant, and hopefully bigger and broader Cosatu”.

Vavi said that the first step towards this was to have the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) reinstated in the federation and the second was to hold a special national congress “sooner rather than later to honestly debate and resolve on the areas of difference”.

Vavi said he knew that, for some, the idea to “simply walk away from it all by announcing a split and the formation of a new federation…sounds like a good option”.

However, he warned that if the choice was made for Cosatu not to remain united in the future: “We will all have to do everything in our power to prevent a slide into multiple conflicts”.

Earlier this week, Cosatu ‘s central executive committee held a meeting at which it decided that all outstanding issues, which included Vavi’s disciplinary process and a call for Cosatu to hold a special national congress, would be dealt with by a political approach.

Vavi was suspended last year for having an affair with a junior employee. Numsa, a strong ally of Vavi’s, took Cosatu to court over his suspension. Earlier this year the suspension was overturned and Vavi returned to work.

Numsa was expelled from Cosatu at a central executive committee meeting held on November 7. At its special congress last December, Numsa decided not to support the ANC in the May general elections, which went against Cosatu’s policy. – Sapa

PW Botha wagged his finger and banned us in 1988 but we stood firm. We built a reputation for fearless journalism, then, and now. Through these last 35 years, the Mail & Guardian has always been on the right side of history.

These days, we are on the trail of the merry band of corporates and politicians robbing South Africa of its own potential.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Guest Author

The rule of law in times of crisis: Covid-19 and...

Under a state of national disaster, some rights may be suspended. But it is critical to remember that the Constitution itself is not suspended

Test backlog skews SA’s corona stats

With thousands of samples still waiting to be processed, labs are racing to ramp up testing to help the government gain a better idea of how prevalent Covid-19 really is

Press Releases

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders

Dimension Data launches Saturday School in PE

The Gauteng Saturday School has produced a number of success stories