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Numsa threatens Zwelinzima Vavi with legal action over suspensions

Saftu's biggest member fights for ousted office bearers

Isaac Mahlangu Senior reporter
Numsa boss Irvin Jim has threatened Saftu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi with legal action.
Numsa boss Irvin Jim has threatened Saftu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi with legal action.
Image: Rogan Ward

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) has written to South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) secretary-general (SG) Zwelinzima Vavi demanding that he immediately call a special central committee meeting over the suspensions of the federation’s national office bearers.

Numsa, which is the biggest union within Saftu in terms of membership, has also threated legal action if the meeting is not called or the suspensions of the four national office bearers are not lifted. 

Last month, Saftu suspended its president, Mac Chavalala, second deputy president Thabo Matsose, deputy general secretary Moleko Phakedi and national treasurer Motshwari Lecogo, accusing them of bringing the federation into disrepute.

Saftu’s national executive committee (NEC) said the four had orchestrated Vavi’s suspension earlier last month over accusations of abusing the federation’s credit card, among other things.

In a letter the Sowetan has seen Numsa has labelled the suspensions “patently unlawful and unfair” and demanded that Vavi call a special central committee meeting or lift the suspensions by 5pm on Friday or face a legal action.

“In all the circumstances, Numsa now hereby demands that a special central committee meeting be convened in order to decide the matter prior to the forthcoming Saftu national congress or alternatively that the suspensions be immediately uplifted.

“Failing the aforesaid, Numsa’s aforesaid views relevant to an ulterior motive underlying to the suspensions will be confirmed, and as such Numsa will be left with no alternative but to approach a competent court of law as a matter of urgency for relief prior to the convening of the Saftu congress in May 2022,” the three-page letter states.

Vavi confirmed receiving the letter, saying he would respond to it.

Numsa has also raised concerns over the suspensions, stating that there was “evidently no sufficient cause” for them.

The national office bearers not only did not actually suspend the Saftu general secretary but merely commenced with steps towards such possible suspension, as a result of which the question of them actually having usurped the Saftu NEC’s powers not having arisen at all, but clearly they were empowered to take such steps or at the very least there is a most plausible argument that they have such powers.”

Numsa's spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola confirmed that the letter is authentic but refused to comment further.

Numsa, the SA Police Union, Municipal and Allied Trade Union of South Africa and SA Industrial Commercial and Allied Workers Union are the unions pushing against the suspension decision taken by the federation’s NEC.

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