Cape Town 020313 The COSATU General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi addresses at the SACTWU's Annual bargaining conference at the Nelson Mandela garden Court Hotel. picture : neil baynes

Cape Town - Cosatu leaders have condemned the leaking of high-level discussions by senior members amid calls for general-secretary Zwelinzima Vavi’s head.

The leak came after allegations that the company Vavi’s stepdaughter worked for won several contracts from the trade union federation.

The Sunday Independent reported that Vavi’s 22-year-old stepdaughter, Thabisa Ngema, was employed by a company, VMS, which won several contracts from Cosatu for services at its new Braamfontein premises.

Vavi has repeatedly called for the resignation of government officials who have allegations of corruption hanging over them, as opposed to suspension without pay.

But Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven rejected the allegations against Vavi on Monday as having no substance, saying there was no investigation into the matter.

In a meeting which continued until late yesterday, the trade union federation’s national office bearers “condemned in the strongest terms” the leaking and misrepresentation of internal discussions.

This had been done “by unprincipled individuals” claiming to have been part of the discussions of Cosatu’s central executive committee (CEC).

“The leaking and misrepresentation of the last CEC decisions has created an unprecedented negative focus on the federation in the media that presented the workers’ organisation as a movement at war with itself,” Craven said.

There was “no justification whatsoever” for “faceless individuals to continue using the media to raise issues, some of which were never raised in the structures of the federation”, he said.

The office-bearers were “also disturbed that at least four leaders” of Cosatu had been quoted in another Sunday newspaper as “raising completely internal issues in the media from their perspectives”.

This was against the tradition of the federation and “our appeal to every Cosatu-affiliated union, including its individual leaders, provincial and even staff members, is that they must desist from commenting on internal issues in the public arena”.

Cosatu also called on its “allies and civil society formations” to allow it the “space to manage its internal issues without pressure from outside”.

This call came amid claims by Aids activist Zackie Achmat that SACP leader Blade Nzimande was behind “an orchestrated witch-hunt” against Vavi, which was “as vicious as the attacks on former President Mandela by the late Peter Mokaba in the ANC for opposing HIV denialism”.

On Monday, several civil society organisations with which Achmat is or has been involved circulated a petition calling for the support of Vavi.

Early signatories included the Treatment Action Campaign, Corruption Watch, Section27, Equal Education, the Social Justice Coalition, Ndifuna Ukwazi, Archbishop Emeritus Njongonkulu Ndungane, Mary Metcalfe and the vice-chancellor of the Central University of Technology in the Free State, Thandwa Mthembu.

SACP deputy general-secretary Jeremy Cronin said the allegations against Vavi “were not manufactured” by Nzimande and called on Achmat to stop “meddling from outside”.

“He himself is meddling. In our central committee meeting (which took place over the weekend) we discussed Cosatu post-Marikana but avoided talking about personalities,” Cronin said.

“(Achmat) is not involved. All of those who are not inside should refrain from diving in, from meddling and labelling and deepening (divisions).”

Political Bureau