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Forensic report allegedly implicates Vavi in office sale scandal

A forensic report into alleged impropriety in the sale of Congress of South African Trade Unions’s (Cosatu) old head office and the purchase of a new one implicates general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, the trade union federation said on Thursday.

The report by auditing firm Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo – which was handed to the central executive committee (CEC) – showed that the auditors had not been able to meet Vavi, despite their attempts to do so, Cosatu deputy general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali told reporters in Johannesburg.

The report was handed to the committee at its three day meeting this week.

“The meeting mandated the NOBs [national office bearers] to write a letter to the Cosatu general secretary to meet with the auditors to provide any information which may be required,” Ntshalintshali said.

“The special CEC will receive the final report and make a determination on the way forward, based on the recommendations in the report.”

There were allegations that Vavi’s stepdaughter was involved in one of the companies that worked on the head office transaction.

Vavi boycotted this week’s CEC in unison with some affiliates who announced they would stay away until the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) was reinstated as a Cosatu member. Numsa was expelled from the trade union federation in November.

‘Above the organisation’
Ntshalintshali on Thursday said that Cosatu had been served court papers by Numsa challenging its suspension, adding that Cosatu would hold a special national congress in July. Numsa is allowed to appeal its expulsion at a Cosatu national congress.

He also said that Vavi was expected explain his conduct, after boycotting the CEC. “The [CEC] expressed deep concern against the general secretary of the federation who continues to conduct himself in a manner that sought to define himself either above the organisation or to act outside the discipline of collective leadership.

Ntshalintshali said that Vavi had not attended three Cosatu meetings, including this week’s three-day CEC.

“It is therefore difficult for the CEC to understand why this same person would announce in the social media that he would not attend the CEC, which is his duty to prepare for.

“It was agreed that the general secretary must be afforded a chance in a special CEC, which will be convened soon, to have him come and explain his conduct.”

Vavi annoucned in a tweet on Monday that he would be boycotting the meeting: “I will not join the Cosatu CEC, I don’t believe going ahead with half of the unions refusing to participate is the best way to unify.”

Responding to a tweet asking if staying away or boycotting would bring unity, Vavi said: “I twice attended the CEC with 340 000 dismissed and with half not present – that did not help unity project.”

The meeting went ahead without Vavi and the Cosatu affiliate unions that had pledged support for Numsa, including the Food and Allied Workers’ Union, the Communication Workers’ Union and the South African Commercial, Catering, and Allied Workers’ unions.

The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa, which had originally said it would not attend the CEC, sent a delegation to the meeting.

Ntshalintshali said the CEC condemned those unions who did not participate.

“The CEC was clear that Cosatu had no structure which can exist parallel or outside of the constitutional structures of the federation and expect to be accorded constitutional recognition.

“We call on these affiliates to return to future meetings to engage in a democratic process where all unions are treated as equals and where all views are given equal weight,” he said. 

According to The New Age, Vavi vented his anger in a Facebook post, saying: “If I get expelled I will be joining hundreds of thousands of people who have been expelled for holding a different view. If comrades think the best way to preserve worker unity is to embark on mass purging of those who have different viewpoints – then I must say there is nothing anyone can do about that.” – Sapa

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