It looks as if Zwelinzima Vavi, the general secretary of Cosatu, who has been ordered by his federation’s bosses to go on paid leave following his shenanigans involving sex with a colleague, won’t be missed by his remaining five colleagues, the national office bearers.
Yesterday they trooped into a press conference almost an hour late to explain that the special meeting of the central executive committee had been convened by them, and not by Bheki Ntshalintshali, Vavi’s deputy, as had been reported.
When they were asked what would happen to the Cosatu campaigns that Vavi had been driving, Zingiswa Losi, the second deputy president, emotionally said the federation was not a chihuahua.
Cosatu was intact and had policies, and these were not Vavi’s. The general secretary merely articulated them and expressed the views of the federation.
Losi is also the one who announced that Vavi had been served with his letter of suspension just before the press conference in the Cosatu headquarters.
Ntshalintshali said Vavi was allowed to come and go from his office as he required, but he could no longer speak on behalf of Cosatu.
Sdumo Dlamini, the president, said Vavi’s responsibilities had not been transferred to anyone.
What is most interesting is that Vavi will still be allowed to take part in the investigation into his alleged involvement in suspected corruption in the sale of the old Cosatu headquarters.
Dlamini denied that Cosatu was in the process of imploding.
“We are spending time building this federation every day. So there is no implosion. We are aware of attempts to split the organisation. That is why the National Union of Mineworkers, the biggest affiliate of Cosatu, is under attack,” he said.
Talk about closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.
Further cuts in cellular tariffs could become uncomfortable for smaller players in the industry, according to Zunaid Bulbulia, the chief executive of MTN South Africa.
“There’s a point now where if the likes of Cell C want to go further down, they can’t sustain their business.
“I think they are going to have difficulty in any case to sustain their business on the current pricing,” Bulbulia said on Wednesday, after MTN revealed that it had succumbed to the price war initiated by Cell C’s 99c a minute rate last year.
Last month Telkom Mobile launched a new plan, Sim-Sonke, which offers calls to other networks at a cost of 75c a minute.
MTN, for its part, was not competitive on price terms for the first five months of the year, Bulbulia admitted. But now the price of its average prepaid tariff was comfortably below 90c a minute.
A study published by Research ICT Africa last month revealed that a third interconnection rate cut in March had for the first time enabled smaller operators to drive down telecommunications prices.
The cut forced MTN and Vodacom to introduce a 2c a second tariff, according to the agency.
The interconnection rate, however, from a cost perspective, still lagged behind countries where the regulator enabled competitive pricing pressure by enforcing a cost-based interconnection rate. Cellular operators pay interconnection fees to terminate calls on each others networks.
Another debate facing the dominant operators is Cell C’s call for asymmetrical rates, which would enable the latter to demand higher interconnection fees from the giants.
Bulbulia said this would only create a bubble, which when it burst meant the smaller firms could not survive.
“The only way to sustain competition is to invest in the key pillars that make a business successful: distribution, network and customer experience,” he added.
The Southern Africa Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (Sactwu) will count the ballots for its clothing industry strike in Durban today. As of yesterday, the ballot showed almost 86 percent of clothing workers in the Western Cape had voted in favour of the strike.
About 40 000 workers had been balloted in 391 clothing factories by yesterday afternoon. The union said last week that it had settled all other wage disputes in the broader industry and would now turn its focus on the clothing sector.
Wage negotiations between the union and employers’ associations broke down after companies proposed a 7 percent wage increase and an incentive scheme that would allow employees to earn more if they were more productive.
There are other issues that are under dispute in the clothing sector, such as the equal wages suggested by the union for metro and non-metro workers. Currently wages for non-metro workers (like Newcastle) are lower.
Many union leaders have expressed their willingness to strike and clothing workers are unlikely to have voted against the will of their leadership.
It is unclear exactly what a strike would cost the clothing industry, but it is obvious that the sector is under stress.
With the volatility of the rand, imports have become more expensive and the cost of production has soared with the general increase of prices of energy.
The high production costs mean the local industry has little hope of competing with its Chinese counterparts, whose products are cheaper.
A strike of the magnitude of 40 000 workers would hit smaller manufacturers the hardest, according to a South African clothing industry researcher.
The looming industrial action will not only have a negative impact on the economy and the retail sector, but will also serve to intensify the antagonistic nature of the relationship between workers and employers in the country.
Edited by Banele Ginindza with contributions from Wiseman Khuzwayo, Asha Speckman and Zandi Shabalala.