BY PIET RAMPEDI, BABALO NDENZE and MICHELLE PIETERSEN
Johannesburg - The leadership of metalworkers’ union Numsa was to meet on Wednesday to consider formal charges brought by Cosatu against the federation’s suspended general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, and to plot a way forward.
Mpumzi Magunqo, national treasurer of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA, said on Tuesday night Vavi had informed the union of the charges.
Cosatu on Tuesday slapped Vavi with charges of financial irregularity and bringing the federation into disrepute, five months after its central executive committee (CEC) suspended him for having sex with a junior employee at work.
“We know that he got the charges. What we are going to do is meet tomorrow as the national office-bearers to discuss everything from the congress until today’s incident,” Magunqo said on Tuesday.
“So, as the leadership of Numsa, we are meeting, and will obviously have a position after that.
“But we are still firm that in terms of the (special) congress (resolutions), we must continue to fight within the federation to deal with the Vavi matter because we don’t think that the incident (sex scandal) that took place is the only issue.”
Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini and the federation’s national spokesman, Patrick Craven, on Tuesday refused to comment on Vavi’s charges.
Dlamini said Cosatu’s national office-bearers would hold a special media briefing on Wednesday before referring further enquiries to Vavi.
Craven said: “I won’t be able to talk about that, I’m afraid. It’s our policy not to talk to the media about internal matters.”
Vavi, who was believed to be consulting with his close allies on the way forward, could not be reached for comment.
However, Magunqo said Vavi had informed him via SMS that he had indeed been charged.
“I received a message from Vavi which said that, look, I have received the charges – but we’re still consulting and won’t comment on the matter yet.”
Vavi originally faced charges of bringing Cosatu into disrepute. However, the CEC later ordered a probe into allegations of financial irregularities in relation to claims that he sold a Cosatu building at less than its market value to a company linked to a relative.
Vavi’s charges come amid speculation that Numsa or its leadership might be suspended from Cosatu after the union’s special congress resolved last month to form a workers’ party.
The union, which fell out with senior tripartite alliance leaders over Vavi’s suspension, did not endorse the ANC’s election campaign and went as far as to resolve that President Jacob Zuma must step down.
Magunqo said they were not aware of rumours that Numsa or its senior leaders might be kicked out of Cosatu.
“We told them at the last CEC: ‘Don’t take too long if you want to expel us. Don’t threaten us because we won’t be threatened by you.’ In fact it would speed up our resolution of going out of Cosatu,” he maintained.