The suspension of Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has been lifted.
Vavi won his court case to be reinstated in the South Gauteng High Court on Friday.
The court also disagreed with Cosatu that the Labour Court or the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration were the correct jurisdiction for the matter.
Vavi was suspended in August last year for have an adulterous affair with a colleague and having sex with her at Cosatu’s offices. He was suspended by Cosatu’s Central Executive Committee (CEC).
However, some CEC members and Vavi came to court because they believed that his suspension was illegal as it had not been voted on as required by Cosatu’s constitution. Instead the CEC members, who come from Cosatu’s 19 affiliates, gave oral input.
“While the CEC of Cosatu was authorised to suspend Vavi, it failed to comply with the constitution of Cosatu in that they did not vote whereas the constitution expressly called for a vote. Therefore no valid decision was taken,” ruled Deputy Judge President Phineas Mojapelo.
He said Cosatu had to pay all costs.
It is not known yet when Vavi will return to work. He is currently in the Eastern Cape attending to a family emergency.
Cosatu will discuss the matter next week Tuesday when it holds a special CEC.
“Cosatu notes the judgment and as a law-abiding organisation will respect it. The full implications will be discussed,” said the federation’s spokesman Patricki Craven.
Cosatu now has to decide whether it will go ahead with a disciplinary hearing linked to Vavi’s suspension.
There was jubilation inside and out the court at the news of Vavi’s reinstatement.
Members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa sang “Vavi back to work”.
Numsa, Cosatu’s largest affiliate and a staunch supporter of Vavi, will push for the disciplinary action against the general secretary to be stopped.
Vavi is facing nine charges which include financial irregularities relating to the sale of Cosatu’s old building and the purchase of its new one, and bringing the federation into disrepute.