Cosatu ejects its president

Cosatu axed Willy Madisha as its president yesterday over his involvement in a missing donation scandal.

Cosatu axed Willy Madisha as its president yesterday over his involvement in a missing donation scandal.

This was after a commission investigating the matter presented its findings and recommendations to Cosatu's central executive committee at its meeting this week, said spokesman Patrick Craven.

"... The manner in which the president [Madisha] managed the issue of the donation to the SACP damaged his reputation and that of Cosatu," the commission found. His conduct has caused division within the federation, implicated him and, by association, Cosatu in "what has all the trappings of an unseemly financial scandal".

"It has reduced his level of acceptability to important constituencies in Cosatu and its alliance partner, the SACP. It has exposed the president and Cosatu to ridicule," the commission found. Malawian businessman Charles Modise laid a complaint against the SACP last year in connection with a R500000 donation he claimed to have made to the party in 2002.

He claimed he gave the money, packed in black plastic bags, to Madisha, who in turn swore he took the money in the boot of his car to SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande. However, Nzimande denied receiving the money.

The commission emphasised that its brief was not to investigate whether the money was handed over. Madisha voluntarily stepped down as Cosatu president in October when the probe started into the missing donation to allow it "to continue without my interference".

At the time, Madisha suggested that alliance leaders were "plotting against each other" in the run-up to the ANC national conference in December.

It was in December that Madisha was suspended as president of the South African Democratic Teachers' Union for apparently telling members not to vote for then deputy president of the ANC Jacob Zuma.

Reports this week suggested that Madisha's fate was "sealed" long before the commission presented its findings.

"His expulsion will signal the intensification of a campaign to rid Cosatu of leaders who backed President Thabo Mbeki's failed bid for a third term as ANC leader," City Press reported.

But the commission found "no evidence" to support Madisha's contention that the matter was "transported into Cosatu to settle . scores by individual leaders and to cast the president as destructive." Instead, it criticised his conduct in relation to the donation as falling "well short" of expectations. - Sapa