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Vavi faces challenge as Saftu meets to elect new leaders

Saftu general-secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. File image
Saftu general-secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. File image
Image: Robert Tshabalala

Trade union federation Saftu is meeting at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg, Ekurhuleni, to elect new leadership and adopt new policies. 

The second national congress of the Cosatu splinter group is expected to continue on Monday with incumbent general-secretary Zwelinzima Vavi seeking re-election despite a challenge from Saftu affiliates opposed to his leadership.

Vavi is set to go head-to-head with his suspended deputy Moleko Phakedi.

But union leaders who support Vavi insist his re-election is destined to be a walk in the park.

Saftu affiliate, the SA Policing Union (Sapu), made its opposition to Vavi's leadership known outside the conference venue on Monday.

This was clear in their song that declared “the good news is that Vavi is not coming back”.

An office bearer of Sapu told TimesLIVE they rejected Vavi because he was behaving “like the alpha and omega” of Saftu. 

“We cannot have that, God forbid, but what would happen to Saftu if Vavi were to get into a car crash tomorrow? 

“We cannot have the federation built around a personality cult. We want to demonstrate that Saftu will do just fine without Vavi.” 

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), the biggest Saftu affiliate, is also expected to oppose Vavi after a falling-out between him and Numsa boss Irvin Jim. 

Unions who support Vavi say he is too strong to lose the position.

Vavi appeared to have the backing of other Saftu affiliates as songs in favour of his leadership dominated the plenary just before the official opening of the conference on Monday morning.

They insist that they proved his broad support in the national executive committee of Saftu, where the federation's national office bearers who attempted to suspend Vavi ended up being suspended themselves. 

Said a Vavi sympathiser: “We have gathered that those opposed to comrade Vavi have hatched an agenda to collapse [the] conference, raising objections to the conference agenda from the onset, but they will be defeated.

“It is going to be a highly charged conference, but comrade Vavi will emerge and Saftu will come out on the other side stronger than before.”



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