Cape Town - Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi received a rousing welcome when he walked into the Western Cape meeting of the labour federation's shop stewards meeting on Tuesday evening.
Shouts of “Vavi! Vavi! Vavi!” erupted as he arrived, some time after Housing Minister Connie September started addressing about 500 shop stewards at Cosatu’s head office in Salt River, Cape Town.
Quick intervention with calls for discipline from the podium quietened the audience, but as September was set to continue outlining government’s housing delivery record, shouts in support of Vavi again interrupted. “Calm down, calm down,” said September, before continuing.
It is Vavi’s first public Cosatu engagement since returning to office over two weeks ago after the Johannesburg High Court ruled his suspension in August 2013 as unlawful and invalid.
Vavi was suspended over an extra-marital office affair with a junior employee, but when charges were finally brought earlier this year, they included counts of financial mismanagement.
At the Cosatu special central executive committee (CEC) meeting earlier this month it was widely speculated Vavi’s suspension would again be pursued, alongside the suspension or expulsion of metalworker’s union Numsa, one of Vavi’s most vocal backers.
Instead the meeting accepted an ANC proposal for mediation to resolve Cosatu’s internal rifts, which have bedevilled the 2.2 million strong labour federation for almost two years.
As part of this agreement, any action or decisions were delayed for a month, well until after the May 7 elections.
Vavi was expected to address the shop stewards on developments in Cosatu.