Cosatu extends olive branches
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.