Cosatu fires Zwelinzima Vavi

Zwelinzima Vavi. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

Zwelinzima Vavi. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

Cosatu’s central executive committee (CEC) has fired Zwelinzima Vavi as the trade union federation’s general secretary.

Three sources who attended the meeting said 31 members of Cosatu’s CEC voted in favour of Vavi’s dismissal and only one person voted against it.

One source at the meeting indicated that the main reason for Vavi’s expulsion was his “failure to fulfill his duties as secretary”. The meeting was not attended by representatives from seven Cosatu affiliates that are aligned to Vavi.

On Sunday Vavi announced that he would not be attending the meeting and did not care if he was dismissed or not. “If my refusal to attend is used as a pretext to fire me, then so be it,” he said.

Vavi and Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini were not available for comment.

Cosatu is due to hold a press conference on Tuesday to announce the decision.

‘Not a solution’
Earlier today, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said expelling the trade union federation’s general secretary would be an easy way out but would not be a solution. Mantashe has described a press conference held on Sunday by embattled Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi as “bordering on delinquency”.

Mantashe said he would have a long talk with his “old friend” Vavi about his exposing of Cosatu’s finances. “In their rush to hurt each other, these leaders in Cosatu may find that when they wake up there will be nothing left of it,” he said.

On Sunday Vavi said he would no longer participate in formal Cosatu meetings and would “take to the streets” instead. Mantashe said Vavi’s decision to go to the media to deal with organisational matters was a “most dangerous thing to do”.

“Cosatu’s problems are not insurmountable. It requires leadership that thinks beyond the current irritation because irritations don’t build unity,” he said.

Cosatu’s central executive committee met on Monday to discuss Vavi’s fate. Mantashe said expelling Vavi would be the easiest decision to make. But “the most complex one is after that what happens”. The problems plaguing Cosatu were not new but its leadership did not have the necessary experience to deal with it effectively, Mantashe said.

Announcing the outcomes of the national executive committee (NEC) meeting, Mantashe noted that Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula had returned to the NEC. He was co-opted along with former chief whip Mathole Motshekga, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters and Mpumalanga education MEC Reginah Mhaule.

They replaced three NEC members elected at Mangaung in 2012 who have since passed away, namely Nosipho Ntwanambi, Sisi Mabe and Collins Chabane.

NEC vacancies
A fourth vacancy emerged after Pallo Jordan resigned following the controversy about a fake doctorate he had boasted about for years.

Seen as a rising star in the ANC, State Security Minister David Mahlobo joined the ANC national working committee, which deals with operations in the party. Free State Social Development MEC Sisi Ntombela also joined the working committee.

Mantashe announced that the NEC had decided to postpone the ANC’s national general council to October this year in an effort to reduce the financial burden on the party.

Interestingly, the tensions between some quarters of the ANC and the South African Communist Party (SACP) featured during discussions at the two-day meeting. Mantashe said the situation was worrying. “The NEC emphasised the urgency of engaging the SACP bilaterally on the relationship of our structure in Mpumalanga and subnational in general,” he said.

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