Uhuru-Spirit News


August 15, 2013 | UhuruSpirit

General Secretary of the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu)has emerged as a strong contender to succeed the suspended General Secretary of COSATU

Johannesburg - Fikile “Slovo” Majola, general secretary of the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), has emerged as a strong contender to take over from Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi if concerted efforts to oust him succeed.

This comes as prospects of Majola’s counterpart in the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Frans Baleni, replacing Vavi appear to be fading.

Vavi has been at the helm of the union federation since 1998.

On Thursday Numsa, a strong ally of Vavi, confirmed that he has been suspended, while an official statement from the trade union federation was still awaited.

Baleni was until recently believed to be the preferred candidate of President Jacob Zuma’s supporters in Cosatu.

This faction is led by the federation’s president, S’dumo Dlamini, seen as among those driving the anti-Vavi onslaught within Cosatu.

Majola, a staunch Zuma supporter, is also close to Dlamini.

As Cosatu’s internal disciplinary hearing into Vavi’s sexual encounter with a junior staffer started in Joburg on, attempts to canvass for Majola to ascend to the federation’s most powerful position also appeared to start in earnest.

“We are lobbying other (Cosatu) affiliates to back him for the general secretary position. He’s our obvious candidate,” said a union leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Majola could not be reached for comment.

Together with Dlamini and NUM president Senzeni Zokwana, Majola was elected onto the ANC’s national executive committee during the party’s elective conference in Mangaung in December.

And with Nehawu being the country’s largest public sector affiliate, he could be poised to take over from Vavi.

Nehawu is also Cosatu’s third biggest affiliate after the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and NUM.

“We have no doubt he is the right candidate to take Cosatu in the right direction,” the source said.

Suggesting that punitive measures should be taken against Vavi, he added: “This thing about the sex scandal has seriously damaged the federation’s reputation. It’s important that we deal decisively with it.”

Majola is part of a clique within Cosatu that has been vocal about the allegations of corruption against Vavi, which relate to the sale of Cosatu’s old headquarters in Braamfontein.

Majola has also been among union leaders who accused Vavi of collaborating with NGOs and the DA to undermine the Zuma government.

Until now, Baleni was touted as the obvious candidate to take over from Vavi.

However, insiders within NUM said he had in recent times fallen out of favour because of the union’s dwindling numbers - which led to Numsa toppling NUM as Cosatu’s biggest union.

“That has been his undoing. (NUM) members are asking how it came that a rival union that is busy making inflammatory statements undermining our government and its policies has become the biggest union in Cosatu,” the source said.

Another factor that had dented Baleni’s hopes were the political upheavals in the mining sector, especially in Rustenburg’s platinum belt. These had resulted in the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union upstaging NUM as the majority union at Lonmin.

“The loss of members in the platinum mines is a serious blow, and as the general secretary, the fingers are pointing at him (Baleni).

“His role is like the CEO of a company, and members believe that he failed to nip it in the bud. That’s why we are in this awkward situation.”

Following the disclosure relating to Vavi’s sex scandal last month, Baleni was accused of orchestrating the rape claims - an allegation that was seen as part of the plot to unseat Vavi.

Baleni then moved swiftly to distance himself from the scandal.

“Somebody showed me (a post) on Facebook, saying it’s me who planted this (alleged rape). I never planted anyone. I never opened anyone’s zip…” Baleni said.

NUM deputy president Piet Mathosa denied that the union had earmarked Baleni for Cosatu’s secretary’s position.

Meanwhile, sources on Wednesday described the Cosatu central executive committee as tense.

They said it got off to a slow start as anti-and pro-Vavi forces argued over a quorum - the minimum number of people required for the meeting to proceed.

The Star

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