Judgment reserved in Vavi case

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Copy of Copy of ST Vavi Court 175 INLSA Suspended Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi is surrounded by people who came to support him at the Johannesburg High Court, where he is opposing his suspension from the federation. Photo: Boxer Ngwenya

Johannesburg - Judgment in the bid by Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi to have his suspension set aside was reserved by the High Court in Johannesburg on Friday.

This was after legal teams for Vavi and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA gave their final replies to arguments set out by the Congress of SA Trade Unions.

Both argued delegates at a Cosatu central executive committee (CEC) meeting on August 14 had not voted on whether Vavi should be suspended. Instead the decision was made by a side meeting of presidents and general secretaries.

“There was no actual vote held, it was a quasi-vote,” said Paul Kennedy, SC, for Vavi.

On Wednesday, Karel Tipp, SC, for Cosatu, had explained that eight of the 16 Cosatu affiliates in good standing were for the suspension, while eight were against it or non-committal.

Under Cosatu's constitution the CEC had the power to dismiss or suspend the general secretary.

“When one looks at what each affiliate said and does it suggests an ulterior motive, we say clearly there isn't.”

Tipp said that assuming the number of delegates within those eight affiliates in support of the suspension all agreed, this would mean that there was a majority and a vote was not needed.

Kennedy disagreed, saying this was not democratic.

“Why is one going into those gymnastics? The constitution says it must go to the vote.”

Tipp said that since Vavi's suspension, Vavi and Numsa had made allegations about the Cosatu leadership, saying there were ulterior motives.

Kennedy said if Vavi had done something wrong since his suspension, another CEC should be called.

“Let Cosatu deal with that... If there is justification on new grounds let the CEC convene properly.”

In August last year, Cosatu said Vavi had been put on special leave pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing relating to his affair with a junior employee.

In July, the employee accused him of rape. He said they had an affair. The woman subsequently withdrew a sexual harassment complaint against him.

Following Vavi's suspension the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), an ally of his, lodged an application in the High Court in Johannesburg challenging the decision.

Vavi then lodged papers to be added as an applicant in Numsa's challenge. In these, he asks the court to grant him an interim order interdicting and restraining Cosatu from enforcing any decision taken at its CEC meeting in August.

He wants final relief to review and set aside the decision to suspend him and institute disciplinary proceedings.


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