The country’s biggest public sector unions - Nehawu and Sadtu - said they viewed the allegations against Dlamini in a serious light and expected Cosatu’s officials to deal with the matter swiftly.
On Monday, Cosatu officials convened an ordinary meeting during which Dlamini, a national executive committee member of the ANC and central committee leader in the SACP, is said to have explained himself on the allegations of receiving a bribe, which are being investigated by the Hawks.
Dlamini’s detractors in the federation have for some time been trying to dislodge him as part of dealing with Zuma’s legacy in Cosatu, and were set to use the bribe allegations to try to deal a blow to his political career.
Nehawu on Monday called on the federation’s national office-bearers to take them into their confidence with the allegations around Dlamini.
Nehawu general secretary Zola Saphetha said the union, whose national office-bearers would be meeting on Tuesday morning, where they would also discuss the Dlamini matter, was waiting for Cosatu's leaders to brief them on the allegations against him, which he said the union took seriously.
Dlamini is alleged to have received a R300 000 bribe from abalone dealer Deon Larry to help arrange a meeting with Zuma, who was in turn allegedly bribed with R1 million in exchange for not firing Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana.
Zokwana is also the SACP's national chairperson.
“Corruption has no space in South Africa, and we will fight it irrespective of how it manifests itself. We are yet to hear from the leadership of Cosatu on what it is saying on this matter after hearing from him.
"Nehawu wants answers. We take the allegations seriously and we would like Cosatu's leadership to take us into their confidence with regard to this matter.
"We are having our own meeting, as Nehawu, where we will decide how to approach this matter,” Saphetha said.
Dlamini has often faced fierce opposition from within Cosatu due to his proximity to Zuma, who had fallen out with the federation, which had gone as far as banning him from its gatherings while he was still president of both the ANC and the country.
With the federation’s elective congress scheduled for later this year, the allegations could deal a huge blow to Dlamini’s ambitions to return to the helm of the federation.
Dlamini, who has denied the allegations against him, could not be reached for comment on Monday.
Sadtu deputy general secretary Nkosana Dolopi has called on the federation’s leadership to take action and brief the unions about any information they had on the matter.
“The leadership of Cosatu must attend to this matter. It is very serious and they must brief leaders of their affiliates and take them into their confidence about what action they are taking. We will be meeting on Wednesday, where we, as officials, will take a collective resolution on this matter as Sadtu,” Dolopi said.
SACP national spokesperson Alex Mashilo said the party would take action against Zokwana should the allegations about him be found to be true.
“In terms of our constitution, if you are in the leadership of the SACP, and you are facing serious charges in a court of law, we ask that you step aside until you clear your name. The Hawks' investigation has to leave no stone unturned in their investigation of this matter,” Mashilo said.
He added that Zokwana had denied any knowledge of the claims.
Mashilo slammed businessman Charlie Seretse, who made the bribe allegations, accusing him of being aggrieved by Zokwana’s decision to cancel a tender that was unlawfully awarded to his company by the department.
“In this case it is very clear that Seretse is fighting for the company that he represents, which was awarded a tender unlawfully and in which Zokwana intervened to terminate that tender.
"The Western Cape High Court found that the tender was indeed unlawful and invalid and set it aside. We cannot look at Seretse in isolation from the fact that he is representing a company that was unlawfully awarded a tender," Mashilo pointed out.
Zokwana’s spokesperson Bomikazi Molapo said the minister denied involvement in any unlawful conduct in awarding of contracts for the processing and sale of confiscated abalone, or any plans to raise money for the ANC through his department.
“The minister welcomes the investigation by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) into all the allegations contained in the article and is confident that the investigation will establish that the allegations made against him are unfounded, false and defamatory,” he said.
Molapo also said Seretse was the chief operating officer of a company whose contract with the department for processing, marketing and selling confiscated abalone was declared unlawful and set aside by the Western Cape High Court on November 24, 2017.
“Investigations into the department's employees implicated in the awarding of the unlawful contract are still ongoing," she said.