IEC could help Saftu elect lead­er­ship

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The newly formed trade union fed­er­a­tion has ad­mit­ted that a list of pre­ferred lead­ers was com­piled ahead of its first congress.

For­mer Cosatu gen­eral sec­re­tary Zwelinz­ima Vavi, who is also na­tional con­vener of the steer­ing com­mit­tee of the new fed­er­a­tion, was at pains yes­ter­day to ex­plain that the lead­er­ship was not im­posed on del­e­gates.

Yes­ter­day, del­e­gates of­fi­cially adopted the in­terim name, SA Fed­er­a­tion of Trade Unions (Saftu), along with the in­terim logo that ap­peared on T-shirts worn by the del­e­gates.

Vavi said it was the preference of the steer­ing com­mit­tee that there be con­sen­sus on all mat­ters, in­clud­ing lead­er­ship, ahead of the congress.

He in­sisted that a demo­cratic process was fol­lowed and the congress was not used to rub­ber-stamp pref­er­ences of only some of the af­fil­i­ates.

“The new fed­er­a­tion will be born out of a demo­cratic process,” he said.

“Coming to this congress, the steer­ing com­mit­tee that was pre­par­ing for the congress held a view that there should be a con­sen­sus on all mat­ters, in­clud­ing on the lead­er­ship – this be­ing the first con­fer­ence to merge the unions and to es­tab­lish a fed­er­a­tion.

“It will be some­how risky to open the is­sue that con­sti­tutes the actual es­tab­lish­ment of the congress up for vot­ing and there­fore into a power play. That was the view of the steer­ing com­mit­tee,” he said.

This view was de­feated at the congress, which opted to add a dis­cus­sion on the elec­tion process on to the agenda.

“Once that hap­pens, a process must start and include the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion of SA (IEC) re­ceiv­ing nom­i­na­tions; we must there­fore pre­pare for the pos­si­bil­ity of a vote. If the unions feel there is 100% con­sen­sus, in my view that will be good for the first congress. But if the unions don’t agree with one an­other and there is still some di­ver­gence of this and that po­si­tion, it is only fair to use the process of the IEC to set­tle what­ever dif­fer­ences peo­ple hold,” Vavi said.

The IEC was called upon to over­see a nom­i­na­tion process by se­cret bal­lot with the agree­ment that, if no con­tes­ta­tion arose, no for­mal vot­ing process would take place and the lead­er­ship would be ac­cepted as is.

Vavi de­fended the use of the se­cret bal­lot, which is not typ­i­cally used at con­gresses, saying that it was a “norm” with unions.

Nom­i­na­tions for the top six po­si­tions – which include pres­i­dent, deputy pres­i­dent, sec­ond deputy pres­i­dent, gen­eral sec­re­tary, deputy gen­eral sec­re­tary and na­tional trea­surer – were closed at 5pm yes­ter­day.

From there, the IEC was sched­uled to give a re­port­back on whether or not there were any con­tes­ta­tions, and to fa­cil­i­tate vot­ing which would hap­pen to­day.

Na­tional Union of Metal Work­ers of SA (Numsa) regional chair­per­son Mac Cha­bal­ala was be­lieved to be touted for the po­si­tion of pres­i­dent, Moleko Phakedi of the Food and Al­lied Work­ers’ Union (Fawu) for the po­si­tion of deputy gen­eral sec­re­tary, Vavi as gen­eral sec­re­tary, Nomvume Ralar­ala (SALIPSU) as first deputy pres­i­dent and Thabo Mat­sose (SAPU) as sec­ond deputy pres­i­dent. Smaller unions such as the Demo­cratic Postal and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Union raised con­cerns dur­ing the ple­nary about a “big brother” syn­drome seep­ing in, saying they were side­lined by the three big­ger unions – Numsa, Fawu, the SA Polic­ing Union (Sapu) and Na­tional Trans­port Move­ment (NTM) – on ma­jor de­ci­sions.

Numsa, who had 682 vot­ing del­e­gates at the congress, has been in­stru­men­tal in the for­ma­tion of the new fed­er­a­tion alongside Vavi since their ex­pul­sion from Cosatu.

The sec­ond biggest vot­ing del­e­ga­tion was Fawu with 250, third was Sapu with 154 and fourth NTM with 105.

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