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Zwelinzima Vavi comes back as Saftu boss — but with Irvin Jim’s people

Some believe the outcome was a negotiated compromise to save the federation from a split

Mawande AmaShabalala Political journalist
Zwelinzima Vavi (left) has been re-elected as Saftu general secretary, following days of jostling with his former close confidante, Numsa boss Irvin Jim (right). File photo
Zwelinzima Vavi (left) has been re-elected as Saftu general secretary, following days of jostling with his former close confidante, Numsa boss Irvin Jim (right). File photo
Image: Rogan Ward

Long-serving trade union leader Zwelinzima Vavi has been re-elected as general secretary of Saftu at a national congress convened in Boksburg, Ekurhuleni.

After days of jostling with his former close confidante, Numsa boss Irvin Jim — who is said to have wanted him gone over their falling out about the direction the federation must take — Vavi emerged victorious in the ballot, the results of which were announced in the early hours of Thursday.

However, the former Cosatu boss will have to contend with the reality of working with fellow national office bearers who are Jim’s allies.

This after the positions of national treasurer and first deputy president were won by Jim’s people.

The two are Thabo Matsose as first deputy president and Motshwari Lecogo as treasurer, and both went into the congress having been among the four suspended office bearers who were the big elephant in the room throughout the congress.

With the election results having been delayed by more than two hours, some have speculated that the outcome might have been a negotiated compromise to save the fledging federation from a split owing to the Vavi and Jim divide.

This is in line with a blatant threat by Numsa on Wednesday that should they not get their way, they would jump ship and leave Saftu, of which it constitutes 40% of membership and is its leading bankroller. 

For the position of president, Ruth Ntlokotse — who is aligned to Vavi — defeated Jim’s favourite Mac Chavalala.

Jim suffered another bloody nose over the position of deputy general secretary where his preferred candidate Moleko Phakedi was defeated by Vavi-aligned Nontembeko Luzipho.

TimesLIVE

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