The affordable education loan option
Johannesburg - ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has warned embattled Cosatu boss Zwelinzima Vavi and his backers not to drag the ANC into the ferocious factional battles tearing the trade union federation apart.
“The reality of the matter is that they are trying to draw us into this matter. We don’t want to be drawn into that mud,” Mantashe told The Sunday Independent yesterday.
“If we wanted to form a labour desk, we (would) not need Cosatu.”
He reiterated his hard-hitting message delivered at the March Cosatu bargaining and campaigns conference: that Cosatu was weakening itself by dealing with its challenges in public.
“A weak Cosatu is bad generally, not (only) for the elections. It is bad for industrial relations,” he said, adding that Cosatu leaders had to be “loyal” to the organisation’s decisions and deal with them internally.
On Friday, Vavi said a campaign was under way to “reduce Cosatu into a labour desk of the governing party, where leaders, whose ambitions are to serve in Parliament and cabinet, will be able to advance their individual personal careers”.
And he fingered Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini as one of those behind circulating the “intelligence” documents among some affiliates as part of a smear campaign to destroy him.
Vavi’s lawyers have called for the censure of Dlamini and anyone else who circulated the “defamatory” allegations.
Dlamini yesterday refused to comment.
Meanwhile, Cosatu is forging ahead with the disciplinary action against Vavi, despite court case which could reveal more dirty linen as the labour federation struggles to shut the lid on its internal tensions.
It is understood the meeting of Cosatu national office-bearers and affiliates’ presidents to draft a charge sheet and appoint an independent chairman for the disciplinary hearing could happen as soon as next week.
In announcing Vavi’s suspension on Thursday after its special central executive committee meeting, Cosatu said it wanted to wrap up the hearing by its next CEC meeting in mid-September.
Vavi on Friday contradicted Dlamini’s insistence that there were no divisions or political campaigns behind its actions against its general-secretary.
He challenged Cosatu president’s instructions to affiliates “not to pronounce outside the protocol that we have agreed to, if your intention is to be in Cosatu”.
Vavi said he could not just resign, as “it would be a victory to the forces that are sitting in the long queue at the corruption feeding trough”.
The embattled suspended labour federation leader announced court action to overturn his suspension.
His ousting was part of a political smear campaign and was “substantially and procedurally unfair” in the absence of criminal charges and the withdrawal of Cosatu’s internal sexual harassment grievance by the married junior employee with whom Vavi admitted to having an office affair.
“Today a report, which has the hallmarks of being the work of rogue elements in the intelligence community, who are in the employ of factionalists within our organisations, produced a complete and total fabrication by, amongst other things, constructing ‘transcripts’ of telephone discussions and meetings that never took place, with the purpose of smearing me and getting me removed as the general secretary,” Vavi said.
These source reports – dating from January 4 to May 1 – seem to mix readily available news into a web of insinuation against outspoken South Africans in legal circles, civil society and the ANC in an attempt to allegedly undermine the democratically elected government.
The allegations include:
- A US organisation, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), would fund NGOs, including the Citizen’s Movement (headed by Mamphela Ramphele before she founded AgangSA), AfriForum, the Midrand Group and Bontshitswe.
- The “new” political party’s advisory committee included “Tokyo Sexwale”, the recently sacked human settlements minister, Vavi, commentator Moeletsi Mbeki, former prosecutions boss Vusi Pikoli, and AfriForum’s Willie Spies.
- The US organisation “had everything to do” with the Marikana killings of 34 miners by the police, as the NED “knew what was going to happen as they sow (dissent) and insurgency”, and was also behind xenophobic violence and service delivery protests.
- A Project Just “run by the NED had control and influence of the Concourt judges and court”, including three named Constitutional Court judges.
- One Geoff Hill, identified as “NED head Africa”, met Joseph Mathunjwa, president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, although a transcript of their alleged conversation wrongly identifies Jim as “Your NUM (National Union of Mineworkers) guy”.
“The abuse of state institutions to drive internal factional wars has continued unabated… We thought it was buried at Polokwane. We were wrong,” Vavi said.
From these documents, he said, “the aim is not only to smear and destroy me as an individual, but also to discredit and destroy a number of other prominent South Africans, such as Tokyo Sexwale, (ConCourt deputy chief justice) Judge Dikgang Moseneke, (ANC deputy president) Cyril Ramaphosa, (Irvin) Jim, et cetera”.
The claim of a political conspiracy at the highest level was supported by metalworkers’ union Numsa, which rejected Vavi’s suspension.
“(The) state apparatus, part of the intelligence community, is centrally involved and used in the battles of Cosatu,” said Numsa deputy general secretary Karl Cloete, adding that, after Vavi was dealt with, so too would Numsa’s general secretary, Irvin Jim, and its president, Cedric Gina.
The Department of State Security’s Brian Dube said: “We don’t comment on speculation and therefore, until a formal complaint is made, there is nothing to say.”
Vavi said a letter was on its way to State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele and Intelligence Inspector-General Faith Radebe. The National Endowment for Democracy has rejected the allegations as “completely groundless and absurd”, adding it has no relationship with Vavi and has not funded any of the organisations listed in this “intelligence” report.
“The NED has no offices outside of Washington, DC, and has no employee by the name of Geoff Hill, past or present. NED operates with utmost transparency, and all of our grants are listed on our website,” NED public affairs director Jane Riley Jacobsen told the Sunday Independent.
AgangSA also dismissed the allegations as “laughable”. Its communications director, Thabo Leshilo, said: “We have not received R500m from anyone.
This so-called intelligence report reads more like a cheap B movie spy script that screams ANC paranoia and fear.”
Vavi has been at the centre of controversy since the February Cosatu CEC, when allegations of mismanagement and nepotism emerged against him.
Reports by independent facilitators on internal tensions were to have been tabled at the May CEC, but are now only expected next month.
Also suspended last week was Jacqueline Phooko, the Cosatu employee who withdrew her sexual harassment grievance, but who has now also been suspended pending disciplinary action.
Efforts to speak to her last week proved unsuccessful. - The Sunday Independent