November deadline set for Cosatu decision on special congress

Labour federation Cosatu will only decide in November whether it will hold a special congress to discuss the strife engulfing it following the suspension of its general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi.

Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini will report to the labour federation’s leadership at its November meeting on whether unions are ready to hold the conference. This follows calls from a third of the unions for a meeting.

The federation, however, needs two-thirds of its affiliates to attend for the congress to go ahead, given that it is torn down the middle over Vavi.

Speaking at a press conference today, Cosatu’s acting general secretary, Bheki Ntshalintshali, said reports were untrue that the central executive committee (CEC) meeting of Cosatu, which ended yesterday, had called for the special conference.

The meeting did agree to investigate additional charges against Vavi for breaking the terms of his suspension by addressing meetings of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA.

But Vavi’s spokesperson, John Dludlu, has issued a statement questioning Cosatu’s assertion that Vavi had acted outside the federation’s code of conduct.

Ntshalintshali and Dlamini said Vavi was barred from addressing the meetings of the federation and its unions as he is paid while on suspension.

It has also emerged that the intervention by Chris Nupen and Petrus Mashishi to resolve ideological and administrative difference between Cosatu leaders has not been concluded. It was supposed to have finished before this week’s meeting.

The auditors have also not completed their audit of the sale and purchase of Cosatu headquarters, from which Vavi has been accused of benefiting.

A group of former Cosatu leaders, including former ministers Sydney Mufamadi and Alec Erwin, have stepped in to avoid a potential split.

Dlamini said the CEC meeting welcomed the intervention and said it would also welcome the ANC-appointed task team that is trying to help Cosatu leaders reconcile.

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