Political analyst Prof. Andre Duvenhage, has given some backing to the claims of ousted Cosatu general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi that his expulsion is based on a clash of personalities within the trade union’s leadership. Vavi was booted out after an almost unanimous decision amongst Cosatu’s Central Executive Committee, following a meeting on Monday. The gathering sought to address alleged impropriety on Vavi’s behalf, as contained in two internal audit reports. The move was the culmination of several months of tension within the trade union federation, with Vavi on Sunday vowing to boycott the meeting. In the end, 30 votes went in favour of his expulsion, with only a solitary vote backing him.
Speaking the morning after the committee’s announcement, Duvenhage said the sacking was something expected for well over a year already, and had little to do with the will of the members of unions affiliated to Cosatu.
“It is a breaking point for Cosatu, and I don’t think there is any turn back strategy. At this point my assessment is that there is going to be a new trade union, of which Numsa is going to be at the centre of,” he predicted.
There were two key issues: namely alleged mismanagement and financial misconduct on Vavi’s part, as well as a clash of personalities and ideologies. With regards to the former, he said the case against Vavi looked somewhat strong, with sufficient evidence from Cosatu’s side to implicate him.
“I think Cosatu has a strong case internally against Mr. Zwelinzima Vavi. At this point his only option is to get out and create an alternative structure and organisation,” he said.
With Vavi holding a particularly strong level of support at a grassroots level amongst members, Duvenhage said it would be vital for Cosatu to avoid any special conferences in the near future. Such an event, according to him, could allow Vavi to mobilise support and cause further internal conflict within the union.
The issues within Cosatu could potentially have a damaging effect for the ANC ahead of the 2016 local government elections. With the country facing continued problems with regards to electricity and service delivery amongst others, infighting amongst the ANC-affiliated Cosatu could only further hamper the ruling parties waning reputation. With this in mind, Duvenhage said it was imperative Cosatu conduct a substantial amount of ‘damage control’.
“The ANC would like to see a consolidated Cosatu behind it in the election. But with Zwelinzima Vavi out, this is highly unlikely,” he declared.
He added that the ruling party would also harbour a keen interest in how Numsa would align itself politically, as this would also have a major impact in their performance come the 2016 elections. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)