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Johannesburg - The trend of unionists taking matters to court instead of engaging in internal processes was worrisome, Congress of SA Trade Unions president Sidumo Dlamini said on Tuesday.
“It is a worrisome factor...but if you are going to run your organisation through courts, make decisions through courts, it is a worrisome factor,” he told reporters after speaking at Popcru's National Political School conference in Benoni.
Dlamini said at the conference there were two problems within Cosatu at the moment - people using the media, and the courts, to engage with the federation.
Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi was put on special leave last week pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing relating to an affair he had with a junior Cosatu employee.
Last month, the employee accused Vavi of rape. He admitted to having a consensual affair with her. The woman subsequently withdrew a sexual harassment complaint against him.
On Friday, Vavi vowed to challenge his suspension from the trade union federation.
Dlamini said he was not aware of Cosatu receiving court papers from Vavi's legal representatives and that he was not referring to Vavi when he spoke of people going to the courts to engage with the federation.
“I wasn't referring to Cosatu's GS (general secretary) when referring to courts,” he said.
Dlamini said he could not comment on the Food and Allied Workers Union issuing a statement on Monday calling for his removal.
“ 1/8It's 3/8 very impossible to comment on what I hear the media say,” he said.
He said a meeting would be held on Monday regarding the formal process of the investigation into the allegations against Vavi, and the disciplinary hearing to follow.
“As things stand now, we have this internal process. It is a process that has been thought thoroughly through,” Dlamini said.
The National Education Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) said in a statement on Tuesday that following a special meeting of its national executive committee, they supported Cosatu's decision to place Vavi on special leave.
“We also agree with the decision to conduct a full investigation into the allegations and also appoint an independent person to chair the disciplinary hearings,” Nehawu said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Dlamini told the conference in Benoni that Cosatu did not consist of only one affiliate.
“We do not want to spend time speculating whether Cosatu would split or not,” he said in Benoni.
It was more important to continue to build the organisation.
“We are not working to divide or split. Why do you spend time on a fear? Why don't you spend time building Cosatu?” Dlamini said.
“The federation is going through a difficult moment. It will pass. It will pass,” said Dlamini.