SOUTH AFRICA’S biggest union federation Cosatu reaffirmed its support for the ANC this week, confronting attacks from within and without.
A two-day special congress, called following the expulsion of affiliate metalworkers union Numsa and the sacking of general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, closed on Tuesday.
A group of eight unions that opposed the Cosatu executive’s decisions had hoped to see them reversed at the congress, counting on dissent among members of larger affiliates.
But delegates supported their elected leaders, confounding attempts to split their ranks.
Two senior women delegates, teaching union Sadtu KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary Nomarashiya Caluza and transport union Satawu second deputy president Kate Matlou, were cheered as they tore into Mr Vavi for having sex with an employee in the office in work time.
“You cannot have sex in the office and say to us you ask for forgiveness. That man was refusing to be corrected and follow disciplinary procedure,” said Ms Matlou.
“Arise, women of Cosatu, arise!” she yelled. “Hold hands together and do not allow yourself to be used by comrades holding higher office.”
Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini clarified that Mr Vavi was not sacked over that incident, nor for alleged corruption in the sale of Cosatu’s old headquarters, but for “failure to execute his duties, undermining the Cosatu constitution and its code of conduct.
“These misconducts included publicly opposing decisions of our constitutional structures, attacking the federation and refusing to come to various constitutional meetings to explain his behaviour.”
Mr Dlamini said Numsa had not been expelled simply for its policy of recruiting in sectors organised by fellow affiliates, but because “after taking such decisions, they refused to have them subjected to democratic scrutiny in a Cosatu congress.”
“Not only did Numsa adopt opposing resolutions but openly went out to mount a campaign that directly undermined and opposed the policies of the federation.”
Mr Dlamini attacked Numsa and Mr Vavi for taking Cosatu to court in a bid to reverse its democratic decisions, and their allies for mobilising members against their unions and the federation.