Cosatu's suspended secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi. File photo: Etienne Creux

Johannesburg - Support by nine Cosatu-affiliated unions for suspended general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi stemmed from their members on the ground, the union Fawu said on Tuesday.

“Our members have gone to an extent of accusing us (the leadership) of not getting spirited enough to get Vavi reinstated,” said Food and Allied Workers' Union (Fawu) general secretary Katishi Masemola.

“Members feel unions have not moved with the necessary vigour. Food and Allied Workers' Union members demand that the matter must be settled and are growing increasingly impatient.”

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) said unions would brief the media on Wednesday about a “long-delayed” Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) special congress.

They would also speak about the “unlawful” suspension and “unprocedural” disciplinary charges lodged against Vavi.

Led by Numsa in the call for the special congress, the eight other unions are Fawu, the SA Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu), the SA Catering Commercial and Allied Workers' Union, the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA, the SA State and Allied Workers' Union, the Communication Workers' Union, the SA Football Players' Union and the Public and Allied Workers' Union of SA.

Masemola said the nine unions were getting impatient with the delays by Cosatu in holding a special congress.

“We will elaborate further at the press conference tomorrow 1/8Wednesday 3/8,” he said.

“New 1/8Cosatu 3/8 leadership will also be one of the agenda-items for the congress.”

Samwu general secretary Walter Theledi said the “mission” of the nine unions was to deal with the divisions within Cosatu. He also said Samwu's members were becoming impatient.

“Samwu members are becoming impatient and are asking what is happening with Vavi,” he said.

“The nine unions will continue to add pressure, because we don't see why the special congress can't happen. The congress will unite everyone in Cosatu.”

He said failure to hold the congress would play into the hands of opposition parties, because the divisions within the union federation would continue to grow.

Vavi was suspended last year for bringing Cosatu into disrepute after he admitted to having an affair with a Cosatu employee. He faces a disciplinary hearing.

Cosatu delivered a charge sheet to Vavi two weeks ago, and which was leaked to the Mail&Guardian.

According to the newspaper, the hearing would be chaired by Wim Trengove SC.

It reported that the nine charges brought against Vavi included the recruitment and employment of the junior Cosatu employee without going through the relevant challenges, and having a relationship with the Cosatu employee.

Other charges pertained to Vavi's alleged failure to supervise the employee's work performance, which allegedly led to unaccounted travel expenses amounting to R483 737 in 2012 and R778 624 in 2013.

Numsa, which has backed Vavi and accused Cosatu leadership of plotting to permanently remove him, took Cosatu to court to rescind and uplift Vavi's suspension.

Vavi also lodged papers to be added as an applicant in Numsa's action.