Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini has admitted that the labour federation’s internal troubles were distracting it from its campaigns and next year’s general elections campaign.
He said this after telling journalists at a press conference at Cosatu House today that Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi had been “placed on special leave” pending a disciplinary hearing over his admission that he had sex with a junior employee.
“There are challenges. At this time, our focus should be on our campaigns and ensuring a decisive victory for the ANC next year,” Dlamini said, following yesterday’s 10-hour meeting of Cosatu’s central executive committee, which decided Vavi should be suspended.
But he added that Cosatu had not abandoned its campaigns against e-tolls, labour brokers and achieving “a better life for workers” in the light of Vavi’s suspension.
Dlamini also denied that the charges against Vavi came from those who wanted to see him fall, as his supporters had claimed.
“There is no political conspiracy, even on this matter. There is no way it can be a political conspiracy,” he said.
Numsa has threatened to split from Cosatu over the action against Vavi, which it says is politically motivated.
However, Dlamini said Numsa has not discussed its intentions with its federation.
“The ANC is concerned and is working with us … there can be no split,” Dlamini said.
Dlamini denied allegations that he deferred to Mahlamba Ndlopfu (President Jacob Zuma’s official residence) or to the ANC’s headquarters.
He also said the federation would push for unity, saying this was more important than the current Vavi debacle.
Lawyer Charles Nupen is facilitating an intervention to deal with disunity in the organisation, while a firm of auditors is investigating allegations of wrongdoing in the sale and purchase of Cosatu’s buildings.
The briefing was attended by all Cosatu’s top leaders, excluding Vavi.
Vavi later tweeted that he was in the building, picking up his belongings.
By the end of the briefing, when City Press tried to find him, he had already left, via the basement tuck shop.
Vavi will not be barred from the building while the disciplinary process goes ahead.
Both Vavi and the 26-year-old woman will face disciplinary hearings, Dlamini said.
Cosatu’s acting general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali would not say what possible sanctions Vavi faces, saying this would be left to an independent disciplinary committee chairperson to decide.
The hearing is expected to be over by the time the federation holds its next central executive committee meeting, where the outcomes of Nupen’s facilitation will be discussed.
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