Zwelinzima Vavi. Picture: BLOOMBERG
Zwelinzima Vavi. Picture: BLOOMBERG

Expelled Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi tore into the labour federation and the ruling ANC at the Food and Allied Workers’ Union (Fawu) national congress in Bela Bela‚ Limpopo, on Monday.

Vavi said Cosatu was for many years one of the most militant and powerful workers’ federations anywhere in the world, but was now "not even a shadow of its former self".

". .. It has become little more than a labour desk for the ANC government‚ whose neoliberal policies are the source of the very attacks we are facing," he said.

Cosatu has said it will not take any action against Fawu, which is an affiliate, for inviting Vavi to address the congress, which started on Monday.

Fawu was among nine Cosatu affiliates which opposed the expulsion of Vavi and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa).

The nine unions were defeated in their attempt to force Cosatu to reverse its decision to expel Vavi and Numsa. Divisions within Cosatu appeared to have been healed after the attempt to reinstate Vavi and Numsa failed.

But Fawu turned the tables on Cosatu when it invited Vavi to address its national congress on Monday. And Vavi did not disappoint when he took to the podium to address Fawu delegates.

"Whatever excuses they continue to make up‚ the expulsion of Numsa and my dismissal were political – evidence that they can no longer tolerate those who insist that the federation should remain true to its founding principles," said Vavi

"The opportunity for a militant campaign around the national minimum wage has been sacrificed in favour of wasting time in the central executive committee on defending President Zuma‚" he said.

"Cosatu‚ once the most powerful union in the continent and the fastest growing union movement in the world with 2.2-million members‚ has now lost hundreds of thousands of its members either through purges or just sheer neglect of members needs."

Cosatu spokesman Sizwe Pamla said it was unfortunate that an affiliate had decided to invite Vavi to address its congress.

"Fawu is our affiliate and we know that the decision was taken by their leaders‚ we call on members of Fawu to make sure that they re-affirm their union as an affiliate of Cosatu.

"We will not take disciplinary steps against Fawu‚ they are independent. We as Cosatu have taken a decision that instead of going the disciplinary route we should instead engage politically‚" he said.

TMG Digital