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Cosatu boss Zwelinzima Vavi has made the shock claim that an intelligence report circulated among the federation’s leadership was fabricated to smear prominent South Africans, including himself, Cyril Ramaphosa, Tokyo Sexwale, Judge Dikgang Moseneke, metalworkers union leader Irvin Jim, and others “perceived as opponents and who dare to speak truth to power”.
Vavi released a copy of the explosive report at a press conference in Joburg on Friday, two days after being placed on “special leave” over a sex scandal involving a colleague.
The report was the product of those in the “long queue at the trough of corruption”, Vavi said, with the “sinister” aim of silencing critical voices, and to “destroy” a Cosatu that stood up for the downtrodden. He said death threats against him were the work of the same forces.
The report purportedly sketches the workings of a shady US outfit, the National Endowment for Democracy, whose purpose, among other things, is to overthrow the ANC government and other governments in Africa.
“This so-called intelligence report also makes out that Marikana, which we are marking the first anniversary of (yesterday), the service delivery protests, and the xenophobic attacks in our country, were not genuine responses by the poor to… squalid living and working conditions,” Vavi said, but were instead part of a “grand conspiracy”.
His lawyers would be writing to State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele and Inspector General for Intelligence Faith Radebe to determine if the intelligence agencies had a hand in producing the report.
He reminded the public of the claim by then-safety and security minister Steve Tshwete that Ramaphosa, now ANC deputy president, Tokyo Sexwale and Mathews Phosa were plotting to topple then-president Thabo Mbeki, and of the Browse Mole report aimed at smearing President Jacob Zuma when he was still deputy president.
“Today, a report which has all the hallmarks of being the work of the rogue elements in the intelligence community, who are in the employ of factionalists within our organisation, produce a complete and total fabrication by, amongst other things, constructing transcripts of telephone discussions and a meeting that never took place.”
The transcript he referred to appears to show Vavi in conversation with a Karl Beck of Freedom House, and a Geoff Hill of National Endowment for Democracy, as they discuss plans for Vavi to leave Cosatu.
It would be best for him to “jump ship now rather than later”, Hill says.
“They have to prove me guilty,” Vavi replies.
Later, Beck tells Vavi he is stalling, and “Malema insisted he will only come to the party if you come in first”.
Judge Moseneke is mentioned in connection with recruiting magistrates.
Vavi told journalists there was an attempt to discredit him as being interested in forming breakaway parties, and contributing to the formation of Mamphela Ramphele’s new party, Agang.
“Some of us put our lives on the line and fought hard to end such abuses.
“We naïvely thought this phenomenon was buried in the Polokwane conference of the ANC, held in December 2007.
“We were wrong,” Vavi said.
Referring to a death threat he said had been communicated to him by acting crime intelligence boss Major General Chris Ngcobo, allegedly involving Iranian intelligence, Vavi said he now smelled a rat.
“In particular, I suspect there was no Iranian intelligence agency in the first place,” said Vavi.
Cwele’s spokesman, Brian Dube, responded to Vavi’s claim: “We don’t comment on speculation and therefore there’s nothing to say.”
Cosatu president S’Dumo Dlamini, responding to Vavi’s claims that he circulated the report in order to turn fellow unionists against Vavi, said: “I don’t know what he’s talking about.”
The federation would deal with Vavi’s threatened legal challenge to his suspension “when it comes”.
“All I can say about the whole briefing he’s conducted is that the general secretary has been afforded an internal process, which is put together by the central executive committee, so that he has a free, fair transparent process, wherein he will be able to answer to his allegations, including issues to which he has publicly admitted,” Dlamini said.
Vavi had agreed to the process, saying “the organisation should put Cosatu first”.
Yesterday National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa general secretary Irvin Jim said it rejected Vavi’s suspension.
Jim added that the union’s national executive committee had pronounced it had “lost confidence in Dlamini”. - Saturday Argus