Cosatu ex­tends olive branches

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - AMY MUS­GRAVE

WHILE nine charges against Cosatu gen­eral sec­re­tary Zwelinz­ima Vavi re­main, he might dodge se­ri­ous sanc­tion due to a po­lit­i­cal process that has been agreed to by the fed­er­a­tion and the ANC.

Cosatu said yes­ter­day it hoped that, by the end of the process, which would en­com­pass many is­sues, the fed­er­a­tion would be united.

“We are pulling out all the stops to make sure that unity is re­alised. We are not treat­ing him (Vavi) with soft gloves. We are sim­ply fo­cus­ing on the unity of the fed­er­a­tion,” said pres­i­dent S’dumo Dlamini.

Cosatu is rent down the mid­dle over the fu­ture of Vavi and the ex­pul­sion of its largest af­fil­i­ate, the Na­tional Union of Me­tal­work­ers of South Africa (Numsa).

The union is sup­ported by seven of Cosatu’s 18 af­fil­i­ates, which are tem­po­rar­ily boy­cotting the fed­er­a­tion’s toplevel meet­ings.

Their nu­mer­ous re­quests for a spe­cial na­tional congress were granted by Dlamini in a spe­cial cen­tral ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee meet­ing on Tues­day.

They be­lieve the spe­cial congress is the only way to unite Cosatu be­cause it would al­low for lead­er­ship elec­tions and could shape the fed­er­a­tion’s po­lit­i­cal di­rec­tion.

The ANC, which has been try­ing to me­di­ate a peace deal in Cosatu, will con­tinue do­ing so de­spite some union­ists be­liev­ing it’s part of the prob­lem.

We are pulling out all the stops to en­sure unity

Vavi said yes­ter­day that the party would meet for­mer Cosatu lead­ers to­mor­row and the fed­er­a­tion’s na­tional of­fice­bear­ers (NOBs) next week in a bid to map out the po­lit­i­cal process.

He said it was hoped that in­for­mal talks would start with af­fil­i­ates by Wed­nes­day.

“We should be do­ing much more than we are do­ing now. That is why we think this is ur­gent… so we can re­turn to the agenda of the work­ing class. We want to start as early as next week so we can close this chap­ter,” Vavi said.

Once the po­lit­i­cal process was com­plete, a pack­age of pro­pos­als would be pre­sented to the cen­tral ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee for en­dorse­ment.

Dis­cus­sions will cen­tre on Vavi and Numsa’s fu­ture, the lo­gis­tics of a spe­cial congress and tight­en­ing Cosatu’s con­sti­tu­tion on when an NOB must va­cate his or her po­si­tion.

While Vavi is fac­ing nine charges, he has not been found guilty of any of them. Cosatu af­fil­i­ates will have to de­cide if it is worth pur­su­ing his pun­ish­ment.

The fed­er­a­tion is un­der strain after Numsa’s ex­pul­sion and some don’t be­lieve it will sur­vive Vavi’s dis­missal, due to his pop­u­lar­ity.

Although Numsa has been ex­pelled, talks will also be held with the union.

“There will have to be a sep­a­rate en­gage­ment with Numsa with a view of dis­cussing the mean­ing of the ex­pul­sion and the mean­ing of find­ing unity,” Vavi said.

Yes­ter­day, some union lead­ers likened the process to putting a plas­ter on a gap­ing wound be­cause the real rea­sons for the crises in Cosatu – that it had aligned it­self with the cap­i­tal­ist agenda – would not be ad­dressed.

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