File photo: Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied workers Union (CEPPWAWU) worker protesting outside Sasol offices in Rosebank. The NEC has accused Mofokeng of defrauding Sasol, a company where the union organises. Picture: Ziphozonke Lushaba

Johannesburg - Suspended chemical workers union general secretary Simon Mofokeng is protesting his suspension, claiming the national executive committee (NEC) meeting which dismissed him and three other top union leaders was illegal.

He made this claim after the national executive committee of the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union (Ceppwawu) suspended him along with union president Thamsanqa Mhlongo and deputy presidents Eunice Dlodlo and Lucas Mashego.

It was the first meeting of the union’s NEC in two years - one of the charges against Mofokeng who on Friday countered by saying that several previous attempts to hold such meetings collapsed “at the point of credentials” and that the meeting which agreed to suspend him could not be regarded as a legitimate gathering of the NEC.

The NEC has accused Mofokeng of defrauding Sasol, a company where the union organises.

Union leaders speaking anonymously on Friday claimed Mofokeng’s business interests included a labour brokering company but the suspended general-secretary asked that such questions be referred to his wife who was the one who owned a company that did business with Sasol.

“I’m not at liberty to talk about my wife,” he said.

Mofokeng said this week’s meeting could not be “construed as an NEC”.

“Three of those regions (present at the NEC) were dissolved – Wits, Western Cape and North West because they were unconstitutionally constituted after their congresses,” he said.

He said he would not lend legitimacy to an “illegal meeting” which was being funded “from outside to destabilise the organisation”.

The developments at the chemical workers union come on the eve of Cosatu central executive committee (CEC) meeting on Monday when the expulsion of the National Union of Metalworkers is likely to be high on the agenda.

Also on the CEC agenda is the failure of the ANC brokered cease-fire between warring federation leaders . which ended days after the country’s general elections on May 7, and Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo auditors' report into financial mismanagement by the federation.

Meanwhile, Independent Newspapers understands that officials from Mpumalanga, Kwa-ZuluNatal and the Free State boycotted the Ceppwawu NEC meeting in a bid to block the suspensions.

Trade union leaders said this could be used to challenge the validity of the suspensions at the Cosatu CEC, but union leaders present at the meeting said the meeting was constitutional and quorate.

Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven said the federation was not aware of the suspensions. He confirmed that Ceppwawu had previously failed to hold NEC meetings.

He said Cosatu steered clear of interfering in the affairs of affiliates. - POLITICAL BUREAU