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Johannesburg - Suspended Cosatu boss Zwelinzima Vavi might have landed himself in more trouble after he made public statements criticising the state of the trade union federation and its leadership.
The Star has reliably learnt that the anti-Vavi faction attending the federation’s central executive committee (CEC) has pressed for additional charges against him.
They argued that he had brought the organisation into further disrepute and violated its code of conduct after he defied his suspension and addressed members of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa). But his foes may find it difficult to axe him from the federation.
The Star also understands that the pro-Vavi camp had successfully pushed for a special congress to address the deepening divisions paralysing the organisation.
Sources said at least eight of Cosatu’s affiliates had submitted letters to the CEC calling for a special congress, which they hoped would rescue Vavi’s future in the federation.
“It is a foregone conclusion (that the special congress will go ahead). The only issue that they can do now is to check the logistics in terms of the number of delegates, the date and agenda,” a highly placed source said.
Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim, who is Vavi’s staunchest ally, is said to have led the push for the national congress. At the special congress, expected to be convened in two weeks’ time, Cosatu members will elect their new leadership.
At the marathon three-day CEC, which ended last night, the anti-Vavi camp, led by Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini, is said to have made its intentions clear to use misconduct charges against him to thwart plans for his comeback.
They have pushed for additional charges for his “open defiance” when he addressed the Numsa members.
Vavi first addressed striking Numsa members during their protest march in Randburg last week, then followed that up when he addressed the union’s political school in Benoni, Ekurhuleni, on Tuesday this week.
In Benoni, he made statements that were highly critical of Cosatu’s leadership. He lashed out at union leaders who accept election into the ANC’s national executive committee, saying this dual role compromised workers and paralysed the federation.
Vavi also used the platform to call for a Cosatu national congress.
He said he would not stop attending union events while he remained suspended.
He had claimed, in a prelude to his speech, that he was addressing Numsa as a friend and neighbour of the late unionist Mbuyiselo Ngwenda.
But this explanation doesn’t seem to have helped to lessen his woes.
“Cosatu and some of the affiliates have actually called for additional charges to be brought against Vavi for addressing the Numsa march in Randburg and the political school yesterday (Tuesday),” the source said on Wednesday night.
“The other additional charges relate to the derogatory statements he made against his accuser at the weekend, while addressing a rally at his home township of Sada, outside Whittlesea in the Eastern Cape.”
The Sunday Independent reported that Vavi called the suspended Cosatu junior staffer who accused him of sexual harassment, a nopatazana, an isiXhosa word that denotes unladylike behaviour.
Vavi already faces charges of serious misconduct for his sexual encounter at Cosatu’s offices. In addition, Cosatu has also pressed charges relating to the “missing” money allegedly spent on booking flights and accommodation for Vavi.
He has also been charged for violating Cosatu’s employment policy by hiring the woman without following recruitment policy.
“The issue of additional charges was discussed. He would in all likelihood be charged for defying his suspension and his statements,” said another source.