In a confidential secretariat report to Cosatu’s midterm central committee starting on Monday, the trade union federation accused Vavi of making “unilateral” staff appointments when he was still at the helm.
Vavi, Cosatu and the National Union of Metal Workers of SA (Numsa) are facing a lawsuit from former Cosatu staffer Jacqueline Phooko. Vavi faced a sexual harassment complaint from Phooko, who later dropped it, amid allegations by him that she wanted to extort money from him.
“The unilateral employment agreements entered into by the former general secretary (Vavi) continue to haunt the federation at least on two fronts. The outstanding litigation case in which the former staff member (Phooko) who was dismissed after a hearing which implicated the former general secretary,” the report says.
“There has been an indication of an intention to sue the federation. There are agreements reached between the former general secretary and some staff members which compromised the consistent application of Cosatu’s human resource policies and has a potential of impacting negatively to the general staff discipline and moral,” the report says.
The federation has also cautioned against staff members it says are loyal to individuals. “there are still comrades within Cosatu who if conditions were conducive would leave Cosatu to join a new federation but for job security are still here.”
The report, however, states that Cosatu leaders will not go on a witch-hunt to prove this but expect all staff members to do what they were employed to do.
Vavi, who is out of the country, yesterday laughed off the remarks, saying allegations against him were typical “last kicks of a dying horse”.
“They are running scared and the emergence of Saftu (the South African Federation of Trade Unions) is giving them sleepless nights,” he said.
He denied entering into unilateral agreements with staff.
“In any case, it’s impossible to commit the federation to paying or entering into any contract involving money without the authority of the NOBs (national office-bearers).
“The money to pay even one cent can only be effected by no less than three signatures of the NOBs. The NOBs paid her (Phooko) from day one,” he said.
Phooko was reportedly demanding R600 000 from Vavi for alleging that she tried to extort money from him and for calling her “nopatazana (loosely translated, “woman with loose morals”) when addressing a crowd at a rally at Sada, near Whittlesea, in the Eastern Cape.
The escapade weakened Vavi’s hand on Cosatu and precipitated his expulsion in March 2015.
His political career appears to have survived the scandal, after he played a central role in the formation of Saftu. Vavi said Cosatu’s members were resigning in droves.
He said Cosatu had cause for concern because it had compromised its independence in order to make anti-working class ANC factions happy. Cosatu was irrelevant to ongoing struggles of the people on the ground against the state capture of the ANC before 1994 and now by the Gupta family, Vavi said.